Art Dubai: Discovering a Place Through People

Yesterday, after a tour of the beautiful, brand new JW Marriott Marquis in downtown Dubai, — the tallest hotel in the world and the only Marquis outside the U.S. — I had some time to explore Dubai on my own. A family friend who lives in the city is an artist and recommended I check out Art Dubai, taking place from March 20-23 at the Madinat Jumeirah hotel. This major annual event showcasing regional artwork — including sculptures, paintings, video installations, and mixed media — attracts thousands of art lovers each year. (The 2012 fair saw 22,500 attendees). The three-day festival includes live performances, educational workshops, and forums on everything from the history of Arabian music to the future of art itself.

Global Arts Forum at Art Dubai

Art Dubai is the leading international art fair in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, drawing audiences from around the globe. The Madinat Jumeirah provided the perfect backdrop for the event. The outside patio was lined with booths offering local Arab cuisine, handmade Italian dishes (the pumpkin ravioli was especially delicious), and a variety of pan-Asian food. All throughout the seating areas were interactive installations or photography displays — art was literally around every corner.

Glimpse into the galleries at Art Dubai

While I was exhausted from the past two days and still feeling a bit jet lagged, I ended up spending five hours at the festival. I sat in on a fascinating Global Arts Forum that discussed understanding a place through its people (something I did a lot of during my time in Dubai). After spending time with my guide Abdul, a Dubai native, and my family friend, an expat, I was afforded the opportunity to learn about Dubai through many different perspectives. And when the galleries opened later that afternoon, I was able to see even more unique points of view, each vastly different from the next, providing a glimpse into new cultures and lifestyles to which I’m not accustomed. The more I explored the galleries, the more I discovered about the people of this region. And the more I discovered, the more I loved Dubai.

To check out some of my favorite pieces at Art Dubai, go to: @sarahconvene

Photography exhibition leading into the main galleries at Art Dubai

Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah Beauchamp was formerly assistant editor of Convene.