Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al- Maktoum Opens Art Dubai 2011

Under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al- Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE, ruler officially opened the fifth edition of Art Dubai 2011 today. Galleries have reported strong sales from the outset as international and regional art professionals flock to view key works.

This year’s fair represents a total of 81 international galleries (nine more than last  year) featuring work from South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Among first-timers to this year’s fair includes Marianne Boesky Gallery, one of New York’s top sellers. Guests attended the Jumeirah Patron’s Preview and launch of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize yesterday, day one of the Global Art Forum_5 in Doha, and the official ladies’ day held under the Patronage of Her Royal Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of Dubai Women Establishment, Wife of HH Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, UAE.

“In the first couple of years, you saw a lot of large- scale works: safe, but glitzy,” said Antonia Carver, the fair’s new director, in a recent interview in London. “That’s changed dramatically. Dubai is “not seen as a place where you can make quick money,” she said. “It’s a place where you meet interesting people, have interesting conversations and discover artists.”

Yesterday art enthusiasts eagerly witnessed the first-ever look at the 2011 Abraaj Capital Art Prize winners which included works created specially for the event by Hamra Abbas, Jananne Al-Ani, Shezad Dawood, Nadia Kaabi-Linke and Timo Nasseri with guest curator Sharmini Perreira.  Guests attended the special Jumeirah Patron’s Preview as well as got the first glimpse of the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibition Les Voyages Extraordinaires which was inspired by four stories by the French writer Jules Verne.

Since 2009 Art Dubai has received competition from the UAE’s capital Abu Dhabi Art which has included top Western heavyweights including the Gagosian Gallery and London’s White Cube to participate. In contrast, Art Dubai attracts collectors from the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa who usually spend on average less than $30,000.  Art Dubai was started in 2007 by co-founder John Martin who directs John Martin Gallery in London.

So as guests make their way to this year’s exciting venues, we can attest that 2011 holds promise for Art Dubai as it emerges from last year’s economic slump.

Art Dubai is open on Friday and Saturday from 12noon. Tickets to Art Dubai are available at the door for AED 50 each and entry for children 12 and under is free.