The National | By Myrna Ayad

In the past, we would often refer to Baghdad, Tehran, Beirut, Cairo and even Damascus as the region’s major centres of art, film, literature, music and poetry. Sadly, due to economic and political strife, this is no longer the case. With the dispersal of people from across the region to different parts of the world and to the Gulf, the UAE has become home to a multitude of nationalities. It is, in part, the efforts of these diasporic communities that brought about the art scene, whose seeds had been initially planted in the 1970s and which developed more so in the last dozen years. The UAE is now, without a doubt, the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region’s capital of culture. I have lived in the UAE for 37 years. I am so proud of what the country has achieved in so little time and so happy to have been a witness to the flourishing of the UAE as an art powerhouse.

Dubai is the marketplace; the galleries, auction houses and Art Dubai are here. Sharjah has its art museum, the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Maraya Art Centre, the Sharjah Biennial and the Barjeel Art Foundation (whose holdings will now go on permanent loan to the Sharjah Art Museum); and Abu Dhabi is home to the museums on Saadiyat Island, and institutions such as NYU Art Gallery and Warehouse421. Each city has its own distinct cultural position, and all work harmoniously and are in close proximity to one other…read more

Image: Exhibitors fix artwork ‘Donut’ by South Korean artist Kim Jae Yong during the 12th annual Art Dubai exhibition. EPA