DUBAI: In a year that has become known for its constant stream of cancellations, postponements and transformations, Art Dubai has just announced that its 14th fair, which will take place on March 17-21, 2021 will have a revised format in line with today’s ever shifting possibilities. The fair has also announced that Hala Khayat, a long-time modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art expert and a former specialist in Arab, Iranian and Turkish art at Christie’s Dubai, will be its new regional director. While at Christie’s, Khayat, who comes from Syria, set up an NGO titled SAFIR in 2014 that promotes the work of young Syrian artists.
“Art Dubai will take place next year with an adapted program that takes into account expected social-distancing measures,” Khayat told Arab News. “This will include an adapted fair layout, a more personalized experience orchestrated through a new app and more outdoor experiences provided by the wonderful weather in the UAE during March and the fair’s unique location by the beach.”
For the first time, the fair will take place across multiple venues across the UAE. In addition to its long-time home at Madinat Jumeirah, these include the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai, the Sharjah Art Foundation and Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi, supported by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
“In addition, we are planning an exciting week-long program of events outside of the fair and throughout the UAE, leveraging on synergies between the fair and the UAE’s main cultural institutions in celebration of the UAE’s 50th anniversary,” she added.
This new way of expressing creative synergies with UAE-based institutions constitutes the silver-lining of this year’s tumultuous changes: It’s time to look outside the traditional setting of an art fair and expand the program locally. With the lack of international travel these days, fairs need to creatively adapt their programs to harness greater local interest.
On the digital front, Art Dubai has some new additions. These include the new online exhibitions program, Art Dubai Portrait Exhibitions, which will present leading artists from across the Global South in the lead-up to the fair. It will kick off with works by Timo Nasseri, to be followed by Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Kazem, Aya Haidar, Dia Azzawi and Abdul Rahman Katanani.
There will also be a viewing room for all participating galleries, a series of presentations and other digital events planned for the week of the fair.
“The present moment requires a deeper than ever sense of community and engagement,” Khayat said. “I look forward to playing my part in nurturing existing as well as new relationships and engaging in audiences in the region and the broader Global South.”