Curtain Rises on Art Dubai 2008 - Twice the Size of Middle East's First-Ever Contemporary Art Fair in 2007

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, today marked the official opening of Art Dubai, which has almost doubled the number of galleries participating, as well as significantly increasing the size and scope of its art projects and Global Art Forum, since the inaugural DIFC Gulf Art Fair in 2007.  The opening press conference was attended by Sheikh Majed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

Underscoring the commitment of the Dubai government to the cultural development of the UAE and the growth of Dubai as a hub for art-related commerce, His Excellency Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC); and Member of the Board and Managing Director in Charge of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, outlined the milestones that Art Dubai has achieved since the inaugural fair in 2007.

"In its second year, Art Dubai has become a significant event on the international art calendar.  We are avidly advancing Dubai's aspiration to become one of the world's mostly widely recognized centres for innovative contemporary art by engaging with the leading galleries around the world as well as inspiring the best art minds across the region and the globe to take part in our five-day event.  In just 12 months, Art Dubai has doubled the amount of contemporary art presented, while attracting a wider range of speakers at the Global Art Forum, a greater diversity of art projects, and more corporate support than we ever anticipated in 2007," said HE Dr. Omar.

The Middle East's first and largest contemporary art event, Art Dubai, includes the following highlights for its 2008 fair:

  • Contemporary artworks offered for sale by nearly 70 of the world's leading contemporary and modern galleries from 28 countries in the Middle East, South and Central Asia and the Far East, as well as Europe and the Americas, bringing together the most sought-after contemporary art and modern masters in one of the world's most dynamic countries, and offering a scale and caliber of art not previously available under one roof in the Middle East region.
  • The Global Art Forum: 2, which opened at DIFC on 17 March with an Art & Patronage in the Business Age theme, and which brings together 50 of the global art community's most respected curators, collectors, and artists to debate and advance the discussion on the confluence of art and commerce.  The Global Art Forum: 2 moves to Madinat Jumeirah on 19 March and is open to the public.
  • An expanded number of special art projects and exhibitions created especially for Art Dubai 2008, including new large-scale pieces from leading international artists such as Wim Delvoye, Tarek Zaki, Amir H. Fallah, Sunil Gawde and Marwan Rechmaoui as well as a special exhibition of contemporary art from Pakistan curated by Salima Hashmi: "Desperately Seeking Paradise," and an underground Art Park highlighting video work.
  • Credit Suisse's international Art & Entrepreneurship exhibition tour. A significant number of the artists participating in the inaugural Credit Suisse exhibition will be on hand to interact with collectors, curators, gallerists and other art decision-makers attending the five-day art fair - among the expected participants are Jiten Thukral, Sumir Tagra, Latifa Echakhch, Mamiko Otsubo, and Plamen Dejanoff.
"For the next five days, some of the Middle East's leading artists and cultural influencers will meet a number of the world's leading gallerists, curators, collectors and arts thinkers at Art Dubai, creating the widest array of contemporary art and arts development discussions ever located in one venue in the region.  I urge anyone with an interest in art - from casual enthusiasts and students to cultural institutions and the most focused regional and international collectors - to spend time at Art Dubai, enjoy the relaxed, carnival-like atmosphere, and benefit from the diversity of art and events that we are offering," said John Martin, co-founder and fair director.

Abraaj Capital and Credit Suisse Support the Development of Art Dubai, Wider Arts Community

The fair's founders and partner DIFC today also announced a partnership with Abraaj Capital, the premier investment firm specialising in private equity investment in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region, to launch the Abraaj Capital Art prize, aimed at developing a regional and global platform to recognize the contemporary work being created by artists working in the Middle East region.

The Abraaj Capital art prize provides an opportunity for up to five artists from the region to work alongside established curators and to showcase individual exhibitions of their work at Art Dubai 2009.  Abraaj envisions the art created as a key element of a new corporate collection that will, over time, reflect the changing concerns of art practise in the MENASA region. All applications should be submitted by curators as well as participating artists before 5th June 2008.

"As the Middle East and Asia's art landscape continues to develop exponentially, the timing is ideal to foster more international understanding about contemporary pieces being produced in the region. By working with an international acclaimed curator, the Abraaj Capital Art prize will enable artists from MENASA markets to broaden their international reputation and network, as well as develop their work through creative collaboration" said Frederic Sicre, Executive Director at Abraaj Capital.

Visitors to Art Dubai 2008 will also be the first in the world to view the unique Credit Suisse 'Art & Entrepreneurship' exhibition set to visit cities including New York, Moscow and Milan before being auctioned in London later this year. Nineteen contemporary artists were tasked with translating core values of entrepreneurship based on a Credit Suisse client survey - Vision, Knowledge, Network, Family and Social Responsibility - into works of art.

Jumeirah, as the exclusive hotel partner for Art Dubai, will be hosting the Patron's Preview on March 18th at Madinat Jumeirah. As a young, Dubai-based company with ambitious expansion plans, Jumeirah Group has a strong synergy with the world-class arts event, and already has a significant involvement in arts and culture. Apo Demirtas, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said, "We are delighted to be supporting Art Dubai, which underscores Jumeirah's promise and continued commitment to STAY DIFFERENT™, as well as demonstrating that Dubai is truly an international arts and Cclture destination. We look forward to welcoming the celebrated artists and collectors to Madinat Jumeirah."

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