The creative ecosystem: Art Dubai's 16th edition brings together brightest cultural minds

Upcoming Art Dubai’s 16th edition is complemented by fair’s largest ever thought-leadership programme, convening broad cross-section of the brightest cultural, creative minds

by Purva Grover

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Published: Sat 18 Feb 2023, 9:23 PM

Over 130 presentations from more than 40 countries and six continents, across four sections — Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba (featuring exclusively new work) and Art Dubai Digital — these are just a few of the many highlights of the upcoming Art Dubai 2023. The event is a leading international art fair for the Middle East and Global South, and will run from 3-5 March at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Further highlights of the programme include artwork premières by some of the world’s most exciting names, and a series of ten newly commissioned performance works by artists from across South Asia. “Art Dubai has always tried to reframe what an art fair can be, and this year’s expanded programme fully reflects our role as a meeting point for the region’s creative industries, both commercial and not-for-profit. As an innovative public-private partnership, we have been an incubator of talent, a catalyst for the creative economy here in Dubai, a convener of great minds, and an entry point to this vibrant ecosystem for the wider cultural sector,” said Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director, Art Dubai. Excerpts from our conversation with Ghione.

A representation of a wider art ecosystem

Art Dubai provides a platform for art and artists from the Global South – referring broadly to the regions of Latin America, Asia, Africa and Oceania – these scenes are underrepresented in the wider art ecosystem and for over 15 years we have been a champion for them. For the 2023 fair, we have just announced our first 100 participants, drawn from more than 40 countries and six continents and across our contemporary, modern and digital art sections and 30 will be taking part for the first time. We are honoured to be held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. We are a fair of discovering and innovation and opening young minds to the wonders of art is a central part of what we do at Art Dubai. Artistic education from an early age is so important and we encourage children of all ages to explore the whole fair, from our galleries to our commissioned programme.


The digital edition

Last year we were the first art fair to launch a dedicated digital section – Art Dubai Digital, and we’re pleased to say that we’ll have an expanded presentation now, giving a 360-degree look at the digital art ecosystem, from artist collectives to DAOs and NFTs. For our 16th edition, we are pleased to welcome 16 first-time exhibitors, including Art: Concept (Paris), Barakat Contemporary (Seoul), First Floor (Harare) and kó (Lagos), Piedras (Buenos Aires), Shrine Empire (New Delhi), Barbara Thumm (Berlin).

Art scene in the UAE when compared to the rest of the world

The art scene in Dubai has expanded hugely in the last 16 years since Art Dubai was founded. There is now a thriving gallery scene and a large number of collectors from all over the world are now based in Dubai. The 2023 edition will feature 21 Dubai-based galleries, more than ever before, reflecting the continued growth of Dubai’s artistic ecosystem and the Emirate’s increasing importance as a global creative and cultural hub. We’re particularly pleased to welcome so many first-time exhibitors into the Art Dubai family.


Trends to watch out for

There’s clearly a trend towards digital technologies – artists using new technologies isn’t new, but the way artists are adopting and adapting new technologies is very exciting indeed.

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Purva Grover


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