The Emirate of Dubai is increasingly expanding its range of museums, art galleries, and showrooms in an ever-growing attempt to become a globally known cultural hotspot, attracting art lovers from across the globe to immerse themselves in Middle Eastern culture. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has recently unveiled a new cultural visa for long-term stays, adding that there are around 6,000 arts and entertainment firms, five artistic complexes, and 20 museums. Every year, they host over 550 cultural activities that draw millions of tourists, so it is required to find a new strategy to unify and coordinate efforts. All of this suggests that there has never been a great opportunity to get to know some of the new and mainstream talent coming out of the City of Gold.
Darah Ghanem – Founder Of Middle East Archive
A writer, photographer, journalist, and multi-disciplinary artist, Darah Ghanem is a true creative. Though her personal project imagery is captivating, through her digital art zine, Darah is bringing up the next generation of Middle East artists and questioning the paradigm, pursuing the halo, which examines underrepresented visual arts from all over the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. She is also the founder of the Middle East Archive, an Instagram account that gathers family documents from the MENA digital archives.
Sarah Al Agroobi – Arab Art Salon
Having her classical education completed at London’s Royal College of Art, Sarah’s new set of work that comprises glitch, time, repent is an effervescent layering of acrylic gauges, culminating in a color eruption. In her dissertation, she explores the culture of both Middle Eastern and Western cultures, with an emphasis on whitewashing and ‘othering’ ideas. Sarah is also the co-founder of the Arab Art Salon, which brings together Arab artists to explore the contemporary environment and art of today.
Born in Basra and based in Dubai, you’ve probably seen the work of a professional calligrapher and graphic designer, Shawkat, before. This self-taught artist is one of the most sought after penmen of the past decade, collaborating with major brands (including Tiffany & Co and Chopard). It’s quick to find his work with bold, graphic designs, and with an ever-expanding print store, you can even buy your own masterpiece to bring around.
Fathima Mohiuddin – Founder Of The Domino
The founder of The Domino, a forum that campaigns for up-and-coming artists in Dubai and promotes spaces for public art, is the Indian and Canadian artist Fathima Mohiuddin. The work of Fathima, a working street artist with walls in over 10 cities, reveals a common tale that is easy to communicate with. Fathima has developed a quirky look that’s all her own, influenced by comic book drawings and Indian block-printed fabrics.
Dina Sami is one of those artists whose work, from the moment you lay eyes on it, captures your heart, which is presumably why her black-and-white drawings are frequently featured across Dubai on magazine covers and walls. It’s obvious that Dina is one of the most thrilling multidisciplinary artists in Dubai, from visual, punchy drawings to colorful textural bits.
Arguably one of the most globally decorated Emirati musicians is Hassan Sharif. His art can still be seen at the Guggenheim New York, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and a number of other renowned museums though he passed away in 2016. Hassan is perhaps best known for his love of color and taking everyday objects, such as combs, as a leading figure of conceptual and experimental art and turning them into sought-after art.