TEFAF opens at the end of the week but it’s not the only important art fair taking place. In the Gulf States, Dubai continues to use some of the opportunity of the economic downturn—lower rents and the city-state’s role as a shopping mecca for wealthy Indians and Pakistanis—to solidify the city’s art market presence. The Financial Times describes what’s going on in the region:
A repackaged Art Dubai is now the central strand of an ambitious umbrella initiative called Art Week, which encompasses a broad programme of cultural events taking place across the Gulf this month. It ranges from lavish new museum projects in Doha, Qatar, to the fifth annual meeting (March 17-19) organised by the Sharjah Art Foundation, an influential annual gathering of artists, art professionals and institutions. The joined-up marketing strategy makes sense, especially as Qatar is now a powerful force in the contemporary and blue-chip modern art worlds.
Other events point to a fairly robust art ecosystem: Art Week includes Sikka, a fair devoted to new commissions from UAE-based artists (March 15-25 in Al Bastakiya). The management team of Art Dubai, keen to tap into new Middle Eastern tastes for limited-edition furniture, has launched a new fair, Design Days Dubai (see below). Crucially, a commissioned projects programme, on a scale not seen at European art fairs, features more than 40 artists who will cheekily explore “the fabric and economy of an art fair”.