In the Gulf countries, the modern and contemporary art market has first
existed locally for some thirty years. Then came the installation of
Christie’s in Dubai in 2006 and the development of the secondary market
continued with Bonham’s Dubai in 2008, then Sotheby’s Doha in 2009. In
the wake of this, the launch of international fairs in the U.A.E (Dubai,
Abu-Dhabi – 2007) and the Levant (Beirut – 2010) suddenly propelled
regional art onto the world stage. It is a decisive pivot.
Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabia), Lightning Land, 2017, photograph, light jet print, 169 x 222, 5 cm, Ed. 3 + 1 AP, Courtesy of Galleria Continua
The resulting boiling excites the regional market and contributes to the
formulation of a strategic vision by the major regional and then,
international players. These first invest heavily, before supply and
demand recently adjust the value of the exchanges. The conditions are
ripe for a real marketplace: there are artists and collectors,
galleries and auction houses, museums and fairs. All the conditions are
met: the primary and secondary markets have a living perimeter,
naturally fluctuating but real.
Reem Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Only the Lonely, analog print, 60 cm x 50 cm,
Courtesy of Mono Gallery
Art development is extremely fast in this region, renowned for its speed of
execution when the objective is formulated by a state. No other region
in the world can say the same: the place has established itself
globally in less than 10 years. All the artists from the Levant, the
Middle East and Iran have flocked to Dubai in search of international
collectors and many have made their mark.
Lulwah Al Homoud (Saudi Arabia), Al Shakoor, 2019, Mixed media on Paper, 110 x 110 cm
Courtesy of Mono Gallery
The stakes are so high for the actors and the countries concerned – U.A.E,
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Sharjah, Bahrain… – that the regional
investments committed or programmed amount to tens of billions!
This reorganization of the chessboard benefits artists from the whole
region, but it is clear that a powerful regional showdown has begun,
supported by a vision favorable to modern and contemporary art, to
position its center of gravity in a sustainable manner. In Saudi
Arabia, the bearer of the largest museum project in history! In this
region, local contemporary art tends to occupy a preponderant place
(photo, video, digital, installations), while modern art is all the
more precious and sought after as it is rare.
Shuaa Ali (Qatar), Equilibrium #7, granite stone and marble, 20 x 20 x 56 cm, Courtesy of Eiwan al Gassar Gallery
Alia Ali (Yemen), Love series – N°3, 2021, fine art UV flatbed printing on
aluminum Dibond, 107 x 388 cm, Courtesy of Alia Ali and the 193
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