In my second visit to the UAE since the start of my project from the 16th to the 20th September, in which I commuted between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, I visited the two well-known exhibition galleries in Dubai in the Al Quoz area, specifically Alserkal Avenue and Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). In addition to a number of atypical exhibitions in Abu Dhabi.
I came holding a prior perception that I can easily see a Gulf artwork in the largest exhibitions of artworks in the region, be it in an organized creative show form like the Sharjah Biennial, or an international commercial show form like in Dubai, or museum art form like in Abu Dhabi. However, and despite the difference in time and images,
I saw what we used to see in Saudi Arabia during the 90s when the few galleries in Riyadh and Jeddah exhibited the works of Arab and foreign artists mainly.
In my visit I barely saw Gulf artworks. Conversely, I saw a great deal of artworks by Arab artists from Syria, Egypt, Palestine and Iraq, and a good number of works by Iranian artists as well as Asian artworks mainly comprising India and the Far East.
A fewer artworks from Europe, in addition to a number of world famous artworks displayed in famous galleries across Dubai.
I tried to arrange meetings with Emirati women artists to no avail as most of them were out of the country for study purposes.
I visited the Women's Museum in Dubai, which attempts to assert the role of the Emirati woman in fine art through the works of Dr. Najat Makki. But what captured my attention the most to the museum was its name (Bait Al Banat: Home of Girls), a metaphor for its role in ‘uniting’ all single girls at a time when remaining unmarried was considered a ‘sin’ for a woman.
Overall my trip to the UAE made it difficult to find the subject for my writing. I thought I would find rich material to excite my appetite for writing, but it seems I would have to go back to classical sources (books), websites and publications for that at least until beginning of November when Abu Dhabi Art opens its doors.
All pictures and comments (mine).
The entrance to the galleries at DIFC.
An artistic attempt to bring to light heritage and identity.
Women’s Museum (Bait Al Banat) in Dubai; a creditable individual effort that relates the history and achievements of UAE women.
In Riyadh, to my knowledge, we have two organizations working to establish a women’s museum. These are the University of Princess Noura Abdulrahman and King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives (Darah).
#Bait_Al Banat (Home of Girls)
What is the origin of this name?
Although the artworks are displayed in a commercial centre, not in an international or regional gallery, yet they were very well received judging from the number of retweets and likes they collected when I first put them on twitter.
This could be a positive sign for the future of arts in the region, and which only time can prove.