Saudi archaeological exhibition to go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi

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Statue of an eagle standing on a bull’s head: 1-100 CE United Arab Emirates, Ed-Dur Stone. (Department of Tourism and Archaeology – Umm Al Quwain)
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Stele representing a man with dagger: 1st–3rd century BCE Calcite alabaster, 57 × 30 cm Qaryat al-Faw. (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
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Burial mask: 1-100 CE Saudi Arabia, Eastern Province, Thaj, Tell al-Zayer Gold. (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
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Head of a man: 100 BCE-200 CE Saudi Arabia, Qaryat al-Faw Cast bronze. (Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage)
Updated 30 September 2018
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Saudi archaeological exhibition to go on display at Louvre Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI: Saudi Arabian artifacts exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia, is set to open in the Louvre Abu Dhabi on November 8th under the patronage of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The exhibition, the second of the museum’s new culture season, will explore the rich history of the Arabian Peninsula through archaeological and cultural artefacts, including a selection of rare pieces from the United Arab Emirates.

The exhibition was conceived through cooperation between Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH) and the Musée du Louvre in Paris, where it was first exhibited in 2010. It is one of the most renowned Saudi exhibitions on a global scale, introducing Arabia's cultural and historical heritage to over five million visitors worldwide. The exhibition has presented 14 acclaimed editions throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, sharing the story of this unique region with audiences around the world, before coming to Louvre Abu Dhabi where it will be enriched by selected pieces from the UAE.

“The United Arab Emirates and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have always been connected by a common heritage and history,” says H.E. Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. “This year’s edition of the exhibition will be a reflection of the rich, shared cultural heritage and deep-rooted history between the two nations.”

Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia explores five chapters in the history of the Arabian Peninsula, spanning early prehistoric settlements; maritime exploration; caravan trading routes that linked the region with Asia, Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean; routes of holy pilgrimage emerging in the 7th century CE; and the social and economic developments between the 14th and 16th centuries that set the stage for the modern day region.

“The Arabian Peninsula has been a place of exchange, culture and civilisation since earliest Antiquity, and Louvre Abu Dhabi is deeply rooted in the region’s unique history and context,” says Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre Abu Dhabi. “The exhibition is an important opportunity for us to re-examine and celebrate this rich heritage through a remarkable series of artefacts, expanding on the regional pieces in our permanent collection to tell an Arabian story from a new perspective.”

Jamal S. Omar, Vice President of Antiquities and Museums Department at STCH, underscores the significance of the exhibition, given the special relationship between the two neighbouring countries and their shared cultural and historical heritage. It is especially notable, he adds, in that this is the exhibition’s first showing in the Arabian Peninsula outside of Saudi Arabia, shedding light on the ancient civilizations and trade routes of the Arabian Peninsula. The exhibition has been followed closely by His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, President of the STCH, in view of the esteem that Saudi Arabia has for the United Arab Emirates, its rulers and its people. "Although the exhibition focuses on Saudi Arabia's civilizations, it also highlights the civilizations of the Arabian Peninsula including major hubs along the ancient trade routes, which were important links in the cultural and historical narrative of this highly strategic region," Mr. Omar comments.

“From overland camel caravans and maritime trading routes to paths walked by religious pilgrims, the roads of Arabia have always been of vital importance to economic development, early settlement and the exchange of ideas, customs and cultures across the region and beyond,” says Dr. Souraya Noujaim, Scientific, Curatorial and Collection Management Director at Louvre Abu Dhabi. “These roads are the thread of this exhibition, which presents a journey retracing exchanges, circulation and encounters in the Arabian Peninsula. Dynamic archaeological research in recent years has shed new light on the longstanding history and diversity of the region, and excitingly, the exhibition now includes a selection of objects from the UAE.”

The expanded exhibition to be displayed at Louvre Abu Dhabi is curated by Mr. Omar, Dr. Noujaim, and Noëmi Daucé, Chief Curator for Archaeology at Louvre Abu Dhabi. Louvre Abu Dhabi is assisted by two scientific advisors from the Musée du Louvre: Marianne Cotty from the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities and Carine Juvin from the Department of Islamic Art.

For the first time, the exhibition will feature important archaeological pieces from the United Arab Emirates, including a pearl found in Umm Al Quwain dating from 5500-5300 BCE (loaned by Umm Al Quwain Museum); a stone decorated with a wild camel from the late 3rd millennium BCE (loaned by Al Ain Museum), a remarkable 1st millennium BCE pieces from Saruq al Hadid (loaned by Dubai Municipality), as well as objects from Julfar (loaned by the National Museum of Ras Al Khaimah).

These will be displayed alongside significant artefacts from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including outstanding funerary Neolithic stela, a 3rd-century BCE bronze statue head (loaned by the Department of Archaeology at King Saud University); a 1st-century BCE gold funerary mask from Eastern Province (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh), 9th-century engraved steles (loaned by King Fahad National Library); 4th-millennium BCE Anthropomorphic stele (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh); a door of the Kaaba dating to 1355 (loaned by the National Museum in Riyadh), and a key of the Kaaba (loaned by the Department of Islamic Art at the Musée du Louvre).

Alongside the exhibition opening, Louvre Abu Dhabi will organise a three-day celebration featuring a performance called “On the Roads of Arabia” – a creation from music, dances and poetry by 80 artists from the Arabian Peninsula, Africa, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean, India, Indonesia and China with a contemporary, calligraphic street art drawing designed by Tunisian artist Koom. The cultural program accompanying Roads of Arabia: Archaeological Treasures of Saudi Arabia will also feature film screenings selected by Hind Mezaina, curatorial talks, as well as a range of education workshops and guided tours related to the exhibition.

Entrance to the exhibition is free with the museum ticket. Visitors can tour the exhibition through a multimedia guide that is available in Arabic, English and French.


Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries. (Arab News)
Updated 20 March 2019
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Art Dubai, where anything goes, gets off to a colorful start

DUBAI: Art Dubai, the largest art fair in the Middle East, got off to a colorful start on Wednesday and more than 92 galleries showcased their chosen artists in the city’s Madinat Jumeriah.

The fair’s 13th edition runs from March 20-23 and features 92 Contemporary and Modern galleries from 42 countries, as well as a bevy of galleries from the UAE.  There are also a number of events going on around the city, as part of Art Week, including Art Nights at the Dubai International Financial Center, which took place on Tuesday. 

You can read more about Art Nights, and see the wild and wonderful art on show, here

Highlights include new gallery section Bawwaba, showcasing art from the Global South; UAE NOW - the first section of its kind - spotlighting local independent artist-run platforms and subcultures, their place in the UAE’s evolving landscape and contribution to creating new ways of thinking, theory and artistic movements and the Contemporary section — two gallery halls presenting work from 59 galleries from 34 countries by some of the most notable contemporary artists working today. It will make you smile, smirk and everything  in-between.

Art Dubai 2019 welcomes more than 500 artists representing 80 nationalities across its four gallery sections: Art Dubai Contemporary, Art Dubai Modern, Bawwaba and Residents.

We take a look at six of our favorite artists and pieces here.

The diversity on show is notable, with galleries from Latin America placed next to booths from Beirut, Saudi Arabia and London.

Pablo del Val, Artistic Director of Art Dubai, said: “Art Dubai continues to develop original content to redefine what an art fair can be and contribute to the UAE and wider region’s cultural landscape. We represent an art world that is truly global and inclusive, rooted in artistic discovery and the promotion of new and alternative perspectives, community building, idea generation and cultural exchange. Geographies, galleries and artists, art typologies and thematics that are not often seen side-by-side, or even as part of the same conversation, will converge at the fair. We hope that new discoveries will be made and new synergies formed.”

It’s a melting pot of artistic expression and media, with sculptures, canvases and the odd video installation vying for space in the crowded halls.

There is a distinct focus on contemporary art, so if you’re into museum-worthy paintings, this may not be your cup of tea, but if you are willing to experiment, it’s the perfect spot to question the boundaries of art.

Battery-operated imaginary animals careened across the floor in one booth, while a fine spider’s web of black string formed an origami-like sculpture in another — anything goes at Art Dubai, as long as it’s not too risqué.

But, why tell you when we can show you? Scroll through the photo gallery to find out more about the art on show here.