Qatar is driving art investment in the UAE, as the Gulf becomes increasingly enamoured with the alternative asset.
There is no historical traditional in the arts in the Gulf region, notes Albawaba, but the art scene is on the move, both culturally and financially. Indeed, in February last year, Qatar splashed $250 million on The Card Players by Cézanne, while new museums and galleries are being built throughout the region: 10 years ago, the UAE had a few art galleries. Today, it has more than 85.
THE ART SCENE IS ON THE MOVE BECAUSE OF PR ARTICLES LIKE THIS AND RICH ARABAS WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO. HOW MUCH OF THIS BENEFITS THEIR PEOPLE?
Dubai is now host to Art Dubai and other similar events, with the emirate’s government renewing plans to build a modern art museum near Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower. The shift has seen auction firm Christie’s open an office in Dubai, anticipating $30 million sales from 2006 to 2009. Since then, they have sold art, jewellery and watches amounting to more than $220 million, helping to set new records for 350 Middle-Eastern artists along the way.
Abu Dhabi is racing to catch up. A $27 billion cultural complex has been unveiled on Saadiyat Island, which will include branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim, with the latter set to be the largest of the organisation’s international network of museums. The two branches are expected to open in 2015 and 2017 respectively.
ANY CHINESE FAKES IN THIS GROUPING?
Qatar, meanwhile, is determined not to be left out of the game: while preparing to host the World Cup in 2022, Doha has also opened the Museum of Islamic Art, home to one of the world’s largest encyclopaedic collections of Islamic art. Hot on the heels of the world record purchase of the Cézanne painting, the Qatari royal family has spent an estimated $2 billion on Western art.
“For the UAE and Qatar, investing in art means investing in the future, but whether that investment will be felt by the society is yet to be seen,” concludes Albawaba.
SOCIALISM AT IT’S FINEST.