The number of visitors to Art Dubai will increase by 30 percent, with the increased traffic leading to a similar growth in art sales.
“We’re one of the few fairs that survived the global downturn in the last couple of years, and we’ve come out stronger for that,” Savita Apte, the fair’s director and the chairwoman of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, told Arabian Business.
Now in its third year, the prize has named five winners, all young Middle East artists. It is a $1m endowment, with each artists receiving $120,000 upfront, with the remainder going to production costs and artists’ support.
This year’s edition of the fair – now in its fifth year – will host 82 galleries from 34 countries. As the Middle East art market continues to expand, Art Dubai – along with Christie’s, whose Dubai branch is heading into its 10 sale season – has put the UAE on the global art map as the hub for MENA’s emerging art scene.
“You could see last night just how many people have come in from different parts of the world, people flying in from everywhere,” Apte said.
At Cuadro, one of the larger galleries housed in the art complex at DIFC, art was already being sold Monday night, in advance of the fair’s official launch.
The fair’s growth can largely be attributed to Dubai’s emergence as a top destination for younger collectors.
Though marketed using the international benchmark, art shown in the UAE is generally more affordable – with larger pieces usually in the $20,000 range – than counterparts in Europe and America.
“We have a fabulous collection of galleries, they realize the market has evolved and developed,” Apte said. “This year there are more galleries and even the returning ones have upped the quality of work. People are receptive and want to see new things.”
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