One of the speakers at Reuters‘s Luxury Summit was Mishaal al-Gergawi, projects and events department head at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. He outlined the region’s continuing push to create a cultural capital in the Gulf:
Dubai Culture plans to create a neighborhood dedicated to fashion, high-end design and gastronomy, he said, without giving more details. The authority is also developing legislation to allow foreign artists residency rights if they have only part-time or non-profit work, which is currently not possible. Gergawi said Dubai will also build a Kunsthal museum with no permanent collection within the next 24 to 30 months to house temporary exhibits from around the world. “We want to bring (works) from international museums who have universal collections of pre-historic times, contemporary, impressionist, antiquities, Islamic, and take them out of their comfortable space,” said Gergawi. Agreements have been signed with the Dresden, Munich and Berlin state museums in Germany to provide exhibits, he said.
But as the emirate suffers from a property crash and liquidity squeeze, population growth has slowed. Dubai Culture did not have to reduce its budget due to the financial downturn, said Gergawi, but had to “reschedule” it. “I like the crisis … it has really made you have to justify your existence,” he said. Gergawi said family pressure and cultural expectations were holding back Emirati nationals from engaging in artistic pursuits. “You have a lot of pressure from the family … and no support for anything alternative or not in the mainstream.”
Dubai to build arts and fasion districts (Reuters)