Visual Arts

The United Arab Emirates have been committed for the past ten years to an active support policy for visual arts, mainly contemporary.

Abu Dhabi Emirate has a strong cultural policy in the field of visual arts, reflected in the construction of emblematic museums (Louvre Abu Dhabi inaugurated in 2017, Guggenheim Museum and Zayed Museum to come), but also in the dissemination of contemporary creation through the “Abu Dhabi Art” Fair or the Cultural Foundation and Manarat Al Saadiyat, two cultural centers that regularly host temporary exhibitions of artists, mainly from the Arab world.


The presence of numerous art galleries and the organization of large-scale artistic events make Dubai a hub for the UAE artistic and cultural life and a privileged place of residence for artists (local or foreign) in the country. In 2021, Dubai will become a city of welcome for artists with the creation of a dedicated district, Al Quoz. Every year, the city hosts Art Dubai, a leading international art fair in the MENASA region (Middle East, North Africa, South Asia), combining iconic references and creative works with the support of an expanding local collector market.


The Emirate of Sharjah also participates in this dynamism as for more than thirty years, the Emir, His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, is actively expanding the initiatives to make his city a “cultural island”, intended to promote contemporary art and exchanges between East and West. Sharjah is home to some twenty museums, as well as several exhibition spaces, including the important Sharjah Art Foundation and the Burjeel Foundation, which promote modern and contemporary art in the region. Moreover, the Emirate has been hosting since 1993 an internationally renowned Contemporary Art Biennial.


In this context, the UAE French Institute is regularly associated with these events to promote French artists in the United Arab Emirates and the French galleries that accompany them. Most of these galleries have been present in the UAE every year since the creation of the first contemporary art fairs, some ten years ago. Among the oldest are Templon, Obadia, Perrotin, Continua, and Custot galleries.


Participation in the Contemporary Art Biennial of Sharjah (7 March – 10 June 2019)


The UAE French Institute co-produced “Blida-Joinville” by Mohamed Bourouissa in a disused school at Kalba. With students from the city, the artist labored around the works of Frantz Fanon and Michel Foucault to create a philosophical and political work that was awarded a prize by an international jury at the closing ceremony of the Biennale.


Participation in Abu Dhabi Art

The Abu Dhabi Contemporary Art Fair is one of the most important cultural events in the region. The UAE French Institute has produced “Patterns”, an immersive installation by multimedia artist Julien Poidevin, that combines new technologies and traditional Islamic motifs. Based on an Ottoman fountain exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, this work is in line with the UAE French Institute’s main themes: the use of new technologies in artistic practices.