Culture + Style

An Art Enthusiast’s Guide to Abu Dhabi’s Emerging Art Scene

See the work of up-and-coming and established artists at Abu Dhabi’s Art Hub. (Photo: Alamy)

Over the years, Abu Dhabi has quietly positioned itself as the Middle East’s art and cultural center. Numerous art galleries have opened and regularly exhibit works by both international and local artists. Now, with a branch of the Louvre opening there soon, Abu Dhabi has been thrust into the art world’s spotlight. As incredible as the Louvre opening is, it’s not all that’s in the works — a branch of the Guggenheim museum is next. Which begs the question: When did Abu Dhabi become the Middle East’s art hub?

According to local artist Tala Hammoud Atrouni, the transformation has been going on for quite some time.

“We are witnessing a blossoming art scene with individual artists and galleries in Abu Dhabi,” Atrouni says. “The city has become an important destination on the global art map. Every year, the capital hosts a large number of galleries from across the globe featuring both local and international artists.”

Abu Dhabi
The new Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi is slated to open in 2017. (Photo: Alamy)

With so many galleries to choose from, deciding which ones to visit can get confusing for tourists. We’ve created a guide to some of the city’s hottest spots to help eliminate the guesswork.

Abu Dhabi Art Hub

If the artist in you has ever imagined having your own personal space that you can tailor around your artistic needs, then the Art Hub just may be your dream come true.

The Art Hub is Abu Dhabi’s first creative community compound. Not only do aspiring and established artists get to rent space to hold art workshops, they can also rent offices and art studios. But what truly sets the Art Hub apart is its artist’s residences. The community offers private, self-catered, fully-furnished apartments for artists, and each apartment has designated space for creating art.

Of course, you’ll also find multiple galleries here that showcase work by local, regional and foreign artists.

Etihad Modern Art Gallery

Affiliated with the U.S.-based Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Etihad Modern Art Gallery takes pride in supporting contemporary art by promoting Emirati and international artists. From painters, sculptors and photographers to potters, calligraphers and screen printers — they’ve all been showcased here. The gallery also holds art workshops (for all ages), poetry nights and music events year-round. For a special treat or souvenir, don’t forget to check out their Art House Café and gift shop when you’re there.

Warehouse 421

Abu Dhabi
Warehouse 421 has converted a former industrial space into a vibrant showcase. (Photo: Alamy)

Warehouse 421 was quite literally a warehouse before it was turned into an art and cultural space. Located in the Mina Zayed port area, it has since been transformed into an inclusive space for Abu Dhabi’s (and UAE’s) creative community.

Their weekly Wednesdays at the Warehouse events are a must-attend for local art enthusiasts and include film screenings, workshops, talks and performances. All events are free to attend but do require registration; check the website for details.

N2N Gallery

The N2N Gallery embraces an East meets West ideology. They distinguish themselves by introducing European — specifically Ukrainian — art to the Abu Dhabi market. Each featured artist is carefully selected to showcase different aspects of European art. If you’re interested in European art, you can’t miss seeing the 170 pieces on display by 13 of the most renowned artists from Europe.

Interested in learning more about the art? N2N regularly holds art master classes.

Salwa Zeidan Gallery

As one of the first art galleries in Abu Dhabi, Salwa Zeidan holds a special place in the local art scene. This critically acclaimed gallery is the brainchild of Lebanese artist Salwa Zeidan, who opened it in 1994, and showcases contemporary, minimalist artwork. You know you’re viewing quality art here; the artists Salwa Zeidan chooses to exhibit have had their art auctioned and sold at Christie’s and Sotheby’s.

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