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A matter of art

A matter of art

Christie’s is auctioning contemporary Middle Eastern art in Dubai tonight. Is this a case of yet another foreign name boosting Dubai’s image, or will the local art industry benefit from the auction?

October 30, 2008 12:27 by

But while auction houses are being lured into the region by affluent Middle Eastern investors and royals looking to stock up for future museums, the region, particularly the Gulf, continues to face criticism for seemingly lacking culture and art.
Some may argue the presence of auction houses and the soon-to-be-completed museums in Abu Dhabi and Doha will boost the nation’s art scene, but the achievements of the Sharjah Biennial has proven otherwise.
Homegrown and highly successful, the Sharjah Biennial has artists in residents, excellent exhibitions and, most importantly, a department dedicated to encouraging Emiratis to become artists. Anyone who’s had any experience with art in the UAE knows that Sharjah is the nation’s most active emirate in producing and promoting art. In 1998, Sharjah was named UNESCO’s cultural capital of the Arab world.
That said, Abu Dhabi’s and Dubai’s plans for art (especially homegrown art) is still unclear. It is entirely possible that the presence of world-renowned auction houses in the emirates will encourage local artists to dedicate their time to their craft. Indeed, if potential artists see there is a living to be made by producing art, they may find it easier to say no to the trades Arab societies expect young men and women to pursue, and study art instead.

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