A new arts complex in Dubai suggests a new direction for contemporary art in the UAE.

Art Jameel’s plans for expanding their exhibition and education programming from a new space prove Art Jameel as the most ambitious contemporary art project with permanent residence in Dubai to date. Art Radar takes a look at Art Jameel’s future plans.

An artist’s rendering of the new Art Jameel Art Centre. Image courtesy Art Jameel.

An artist’s rendering of the new Art Jameel Art Centre. Image courtesy Serie and Art Jameel.

Art Jameel has announced two main advances in their expansion plans, designed to enrich the local and international arts scene: a new Arts Centre in Dubai, due to open in winter 2018, and a long-term partnership with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. While other local arts institutions such as Art Dubai and the Sharjah Biennale offer extensive exhibition and educational programming to the region’s contemporary art lovers, Jameel Arts Centre’s status as a permanent non-profits exhibition and research centre is set to have a lasting effect on the local arts scene.

Rendering of Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. Image courtesy of Serie and Art Jameel.

Rendering of Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. Image courtesy Serie and Art Jameel.

Jameel Arts Centre Dubai

Marking a difference with other arts institutions in the region – often located in a faraway location with limited access – Jameel Arts Centre (PDF download) will be based at Dubai Creek, part of the historical northern quarters of the city. A 10,000-square-metre space designed by UK-based firm Serie Architect will house exhibitions that draw from Art Jameel’s permanent collection as well as a public programme designed as a hub for educational and research initiatives. The exhibitions and public programme are currently under the auspices of Jessica Morgan, Director of Dia Art Foundation, New York, and the curator and writer Murtaza Vali, based between Sharjah and New York.

Fady Mohammed Jameel, President of Art Jameel, explained:

We are delighted to be embarking on a new phase of development for Art Jameel – strengthening our programmes in Saudi Arabia, across the Arab World and internationally, as well as founding our first permanent space, the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai.

Click here to watch Haha Mammoun, ‘Domestic Tourism II’ (excerpt), 2008, video, colour, sound, set of postcards, 61min:22sec, on Vimeo

Art Jameel Fund 

Set up in 2003 as part of the philanthropic activities of the Jameel family, Art Jameel has also announced a partnership with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which enables the museum to increase acquisitions of contemporary art from the Middle East. Clare Davies, who is the Metropolitan Museum’s curator for the region, has already overseen the acquisition of work by Egyptian artist Maha Mammoun: the single channel video 2026 (2010) and six photographs from a series entitled Domestic Tourism I (2005). In both, Maamoun explores the way in which the city of Cairo circulates within an economy of reproducible images including advertisements, film, television, the Internet and photography. In a press statement, Davies said of the new partnership:

Art Jameel’s support allows the museum to put the most exciting contemporary practices and influential modern works from across the region in conversation with its rich collections and diverse audiences.

Antonia Carver. Photo credit: Clint Mclean. Image courtesy Art Jameel.

Antonia Carver. Photo: Clint Mclean. Image courtesy Art Jameel.

An artist’s rendering of the new Art Jameel Art Centre. Image courtesy Serie and Art Jameel.

An artist’s rendering of the new Art Jameel Art Centre. Image courtesy Serie and Art Jameel.

Art Jameel and the local art scene

In her statements made to the press regarding Art Jameel’s plans for the future, Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel since her appointment in 2016, was careful to emphasise the existence of an art scene in Dubai before the international influence arrived in the guise of the international galleries and brand name museums and fairs that have made Dubai their home in the last two decades. Stressing the role of Jameel Arts Center in building upon this grassroots tradition, Carver states:

This is an exciting moment for Art Jameel, as we embark on a dynamic period of growth and renewal, expanding programmes and developing new partnerships. We are on a journey of supporting the arts and heritage as we develop new programmes of exhibition-making, and educational, research and publishing initiatives.

Rebecca Close


Related Topics: DirectorsBusiness of Art, news, art spaces, market watchevents in Dubai

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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