Dubai's First Gulf Art Fair

Held in Dubai in early March, the Gulf Art Fair was the first international art fair to take place in the Middle East.

Gulf Art Fair venue - The first Gulf Art Fair at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai.

Top galleries from around the world participated, showing art worth a total of $1 billion. While Dubai has welcomed Western culture in recent years, some aesthetic friction was evident; exhibitors only brought artwork appropriate for an Islamic state, meaning no nudity or religious imagery. Many Western works — such as Damien Hirst's medicine cabinet — left viewers puzzled and bored, while Arab, Indian, and Chinese art sold briskly. The event comes at a time when Dubai and Abu Dhabi are competing for cultural cachet — the wealthier Abu Dhabi is currently planning its branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

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