Dubai; on the Cultural Map

AsiaNet 47045

DUBAI, UAE, November 2, 2011 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ —

It’s not often an e-mail reduces a grown man to tears of happiness. But then not too many young designers are told that the Victoria & Albert Museum want to add shoes from his debut show to its permanent exhibition. It is how the UAE’s Sultan Al Darmaki this year became the first contemporary Middle Eastern designer to have work exhibited at one of the world’s greatest collections of decorative art.

It is a huge step forward for the talented Al Darmaki. But it is also underlines the increasing international influence of Middle Eastern artists and designers, for this region is no longer on the periphery of the artistic world.

Nowhere is this changing status more striking than at Art Dubai. The annual art fair may only be four years old but it is already an important date on the global calendar, attracting collectors and galleries from over 30 countries. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art used the fair this year to launch its contemporary Middle Eastern and North African art department.

Soon, the great museums will be permanent fixtures rather than just regular and welcome visitors. The Louvre Abu Dhabi which will house paintings by Manet, Ingres and Mondrian as well as memorable art from the region is scheduled to be launched within the next few years.

The region’s cultural renaissance is also attracting interest from the East. For the first time in its 25-year history, this year’s Tokyo Designers Week will feature contributions from the Middle East. This includes ‘Dubai Futures: The Emirate’s Emerging Art Scene’, sponsored by Brownbook, the brainchild of Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib.

It’s not just galleries and museums which are buzzing with activity. In October, Dubai’s hosting of the international Festival of Interior Design won praise for its role in spotlighting the region’s emerging talent. The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature draws ever bigger names and audiences. This year’s festival, held in March, featured 100 authors representing 26 nationalities, including globally acclaimed writers Margaret Atwood and Michael Palin.

While the region’s institutions and festivals are showcasing art, design and literature from around the world, something else is stirring in Dubai. In the dusty industrial zone of Al Quoz, an artistic neighbourhood is fast taking shape. Like the factories and lofts of New York’s Soho and Meatpacking districts, Al Quoz is being reclaimed by Dubai’s entrepreneurial young artists as galleries and workshops open.

Al Quoz may not yet figure high on many tourist itineraries but it won’t remain a secret for long. When even Dubai’s warehouses are bursting at the seams with artistic enterprise, it’s clear this is a city that is putting itself on the cultural map.

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Source: Falcon and Associates FZ-LLC

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