State of the Art Featured

Dubai's growing arts hub, Alserkal Avenue has become an integral part of the region's cultural scene



23 May 2013

Just a few years ago it would have been hard to believe that the industrial area of Al Quoz 1 would turn into a burgeoning centre for contemporary art in Dubai. Situated in a block radius of what appears at first glance to be a group of warehouses, since 2007 the complex has grown to include almost 20 art galleries and creative spaces, and it is rapidly developing into one of the Middle East’s foremost platforms for cultural and artistic exchange.

The creation of the arts hub is due to the vision of Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal. The Emirati businessman and art lover saw this derelict area in Al Quoz as the region’s next art quarter. “The galleries themselves were what prompted me to initiate the space,” he says. “These spaces are pioneering Middle Eastern artists to international acclaim and this is the vision of Alserkal Avenue – to foster international cultural and artistic dialogue. After five years and a lot of hard work we are finally where we are now.” Just this past summer, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde and Green Art Gallery, two spaces located in the complex, were accepted for Art Basel, the first time that galleries from the GCC took part in the fair.

Alserkal Avenue is now proceeding with plans for its expansion in 2014. The new development will include an events centre which can accommodate 800 visitors, project spaces, and better facilities with which to receive the local community and artistic talent. “We want Alserkal Avenue to be part of the wider community,” adds Alserkal. “It will constitute a much-needed creative platform.”

Iranian entrepreneur and art collector Ramin Salsali established the Ramin Salsali Private Museum in Alserkal Avenue in 2011 in order to engage the wider Middle Eastern and international communities at a creative level. “Alserkal Avenue is not situated in a privileged area of Dubai,” says Salsali. “When people come here they take in all of the disadvantages of this area and most importantly, they become pioneers for a cause – that of art. Visitors to Alserkal Avenue are taking part in something greater than themselves in an area not stereotypical of Dubai.” Salsali’s private museum is the first of its kind in the region and features over 600 works including painting, photography, video art, sculpture and installations. “What you have in Alserkal is a super-synergy,” beams Salsali. “All creative industries are setting up here. Moreover, it has developed because of an organic flow – one space leads to the next and one creative discipline feeds into the other so that you can learn and fully experience the art."

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