Dubai: An Emerging Regional Art H


“Art is very subjective, what I see to be unique and beautiful, you might see as plain and boring. “ Rana Qasem, a student at AUD tells her friend Sondos Wehbe as they catch up for coffee one late afternoon and debate about which art event to attend during the weekend.

“There are so many art events happening lately I can’t even keep up! My main focus is to see some local art or even attend an art workshop or play; you never know I might become the next artistic mind just like Picasso!” Sondos jokes as she sips her coffee and browses Dubai Calendar on her phone.

Arabic calligraphy, silk carpets, oil paintings and unique architecture are often used to describe art in the Middle East. As far back as history can tell, art in the Middle East has had a lot of influences from Persia, China, India, Japan and those are just a few of the huge equation.

Even though art, in the past, was categorized and praised for the extreme detail nowadays with the emergence of trend conscious cities like Dubai, simplicity is key. Many resort to simple words on a canvas, unconventional techniques or photography as their main artistic focus.

The art scene in Dubai is one that is still rapidly growing and many have noticed a difference over the past couple of years.

“A few years ago, there weren’t as many art events as there are now. Art wasn’t seen as a niche market and wasn’t as popular.” said Dana Oraibi, a student at the American University of Dubai.

However that idea has drastically changed and hasn’t stopped anyone from jumping on the wagon.

Almost every week, anyone can find three to four upcoming art events and exhibitions like: “Short+Sweet Dubai 2016,” which is an Australian based theatre piece and this 10 minutes play has become a breeding ground for script-writes, actors and directors.

“Emirates Airline Festival of Literature 2016,” which is the Middle East’s largest exhibition of written and spoken word that brings together many people of different ages, nationalities and backgrounds to discuss education and art in the region.

As well as events, many galleries choose to showcase the modern art of today’s artists, visionaries and photographers.

A contemporary art event called “Dubai From Dusk to Dawn,” was being held all through the month of February at The Monda Gallery, found at the Sofitel Hotel in the Palm Jumeirah.

The event was showcasing 20 photographs of two well-known photograhers; Daniel Cheong and Beno Saradzic, a Slovenian born photographer, cinematographer and visual artist.

Sogand Mozafarri, a fan of Mr. Saradzic, said, “I love the way he can capture the life of a city in just one picture. There’s this one picture of the skyscrapers of Dubai on Sheikh Zayed road that are almost being overtaken by the morning fog and it’s absolutely amazing how he can highlight the architectural and engineering beauty in its natural elements. You can truly tell his love of nature by simply looking at any of his photographs.”

Many locals and expats of this city don’t even need to go far for their fast fix of art just like Dana Oraibi, who said, “it depends on the kind and availability of art events but I usually check out Dubai Calendar for upcoming events. I use it a lot because you get to filter what you want to see whether it’s an art gallery, a workshop or just an event.”

Another student at AUD, Stephanie Jour, gets her art fix through e-mails about fun filled art events from the Student Services department, “I don’t have an artistic bone in my body but I have always wanted to try and be part of the art scene here and I appreciate when AUD notifies the student body because I feel more comfortable knowing that I might know someone who would be interested in going too.”

Dubai, in itself, is an artwork because of its modern architecture, skyscrapers and unique energy so it was only normal for such a city to become the backbone for strong and visual art scenes.

The development of the art scene is all about the market and about the people willing to be a part of it, almost two out of five people would have gone to an art event in the past month or so, just like Sara Daher, an employee at UM, who said, “I like contemporary art so the most recent art event I attended was Art For Thought which was a private event where people gathered to speak about a specific theme or topic and the guests also had the option of getting whatever art they wanted to share like paintings, sculptures and poetry.”

As for the artists who are finding their voice in this bustling city, Samar Kamel, a Dubai based artist, disclosed that being an artist here is easy as long as you have will and talent however this industry comes with some difficulties as she had a hard time establishing herself with no exhibition records.

Most of Samar’s art is about impressionism abstract and despite having no exhibition record at first, people are now able to view her artwork either on her website or Facebook page. Moreover, she continues to describe Dubai’s art scene as “diverse, versatile and competitive as there are many art events happening all year long.”

Dubai’s art scene is truly a reflection of the city as a whole; its ethnicity, dynamics, visuals and purely subjective interpretation allows anyone to either love what they see or hate it.

Nevertheless this city will always be here, will always be developing and will always be unique with what it offers.