Dubai has seemed unstoppable in recent years, establishing itself as a center of finance, trade and tourism.
Prior to 2008, it looked ready to take the art world by storm as well, as one record-breaking sale followed another in the city of Dubai, particularly in the field of contemporary art.
Burgeoning enthusiasm for collecting art convinced many that Dubai was poised to become a big name in the international market. However, when the global financial crisis hit, the art market in the emirate took a big hit, with Bonham’s even closing its Dubai doors. Nonetheless, there are currently signs that the region could yet take the art market by storm. The number of collectors in the Middle East continues to grow and the age of these collectors is lowering.
Recognition of Arab and Iranian artists is also on the rise. According to Antonia Carver, director of Art Dubai, "I don't think anyone in the art market here is hoping for a big boom. They're hoping for a steady growth and I can say we're in a much better position than before."
The sixth edition of Art Dubai boasted 22,500 visitors in March. The Pace Gallery and Alexander Gray Associates were among the new exhibitors this year. Overall, the 75 international galleries reported strong sales, with Jeddah’s Athr Gallery selling out within half an hour of the fair’s exclusive Jumeirah Patron’s Preview.