The cultural buzz of Dubai is soaring this week, because the largest art fair in the region – Art Dubai – is preparing to open its exhibition doors on March 18, for the ninth edition.

With its roots in the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa, it is the biggest fair of it's kind in the region and continues to gain international interest and critical acclaim, whilst also making great strides in highlighting and supporting the abundant artistic talent in the Middle East. Buro 24/7 Middle East have put together a comprehensive guide to this year's event to help you navigate all that Art Dubai 2015 has in store. Whether you are a frequent visitor of Art Dubai or this is your first time experiencing the fair, we will help you get the best out of one of Dubai's most exciting events on the cultural calendar.  

Last year saw more than 24,000 visitors enjoy the gallery halls, talks programme, artist's projects and educational presentations, and this year is set to be even bigger. With even more galleries, artists and countries involved this year, there is so much to explore. Art Dubai now has the most extensive not-for-profit programme of any fair, worldwide.

Art Dubai was launched in 2007 and is held under the Patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, under the 'Art Week' umberella. It is a week that brings many special events to the city, including Design Days Dubai, the only fair in Asia dedicated to product and furniture design; Sikka, a fair run by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, dedicated to new work by UAE-based artists; and Galleries Nights, featuring over 40 new exhibitions across Al Quoz and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC); plus other projects, museum shows and major events throughout the Emirates, Qatar and the Gulf. Here is a breakdown of Art Dubai, and some highlights of this year's extensive programme...

Your essential guide to Art Dubai 2015: What to see and what to do

THE VENUE

For the ninth year in a row, the Madinat Jumeirah will proudly host the ever growing art fair.  The Arabian village styled resort, arranged along the coast and its own recreation of Dubai Creek, the Madinat was created in itself, as a showcase for Arabian culture, which makes it the ideal partner and venue for one of the most celebrated events on Dubai's cultural calendar. 

Meander through the Madinat's warren-like architecture and discover the extent of Art Dubai's offerings whilst enjoying the unique surroundings. Including the Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, where the terrace talks will be taking place (see Programme) and be sure to check out the Art Bar, which this year will be located inside a 15 metre tall mountain on Fort Island. This impressive art installation by artist Yazan Khalili will be accessible to the public on Thursday 18 March without paying fair entry from 4pm until 9.30pm.

Buro 24/7 Middle East at Art Dubai 2014

Buro 24/7 Middle East will also be in attendance at this year's fair for the second time running. Locate our booth and come say hello to the team at the media section, towards the main entrance of the fair.

Art Dubai 2015

THE GALLERIES

There are 92 participating galleries from 39 countries and over 500 individual artists contributing to this year's fair. This year the art work is categorised in three different genres: 

Contemporary – 2015 see's 'Contemporary' at its most diverse yet, and featuring both established galleries and upcoming art-spaces. This category will boast 72 international galleries. Expect to see some household names headlining as well as many exciting up and coming artists. Being that it is one of the most diverse categories at Art Dubai, there will be a vast array of artworks to explore across lots of different artistic mediums such as painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, video, photography and performance.

Modern – Dedicated to masters from the Middle East and South Asia who proved influential throughout the twentieth century, each exhibitor will be presenting a refined solo or two-person show, featuring work by modern masters from the twentieth century. Galleries from Dubai, Beiruit, Karachi, London and New York are all featured from the selective list of 15 galleries. 

Marker  – Exhibitors are able to take part by invitation only, and this category is a curated section of the fair that aims to focus on a particular theme or part of the world each year. 2015 is only the second year that this section has been included in the programming. This year's theme is Latin America, and it has been curated by Luiza Teixeira de Freitas, with a select list of participants that includes: Tijuana (Brazil/Pan-Latin America) and The State (UAE/Pan-Arab world), Videobrasil (Brazil), Maria Jose Arjona (Colombia/Pan-Latin America), Marina Buendia (Brazil) and Maria Quiroga (Colombia).

THE EVENTS

Art Dubai Projects 

These are dynamic commissioned site-specific works where artists have been selected through residencies and commissions. This year's curator is Lara Khaldi. There are two principle projects 'A.i.R Dubai' and 'Art Dubai New Commissions' – the latter of which is new to the project lineup for 2015.

Art Dubai gives five regional and international artists the opportunity to develop dynamic site specific works for both the grounds of the fair and the city at large. All five commissions are developed with local and international partner organisations. This collaborative model allows the life and influence of the project to extend beyond the week of the fair, so the works can be exhibited for longer. 

'A.i.R Dubai' is the residency programme and it is run by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority together with Tashkeel and the Delfina Foundation. This three-month programme sees six artists develop their projects for Art Dubai while in residence in the UAE, working together in studios, and taking part in an expanded outreach programme of talks, reading groups, screenings, publications and open studios.

Global Art Forum

This year's title: 'Download Update?' will see the five-day conference focus on the theme of technologies. Leading the exploration of the impact of technology on the world of art, culture and beyond will be the recently announced panel which consists of; Co-directors Turi Munthe and Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with Shumon Basar as director-at-large. There will participation, across the three-day forum, from 50 local and international contributors. The forum debates how technologies have transformed not only the way we work, but how we think, interact, learn and create.

The Sheikha Manal Little Artists Programme

Part of Art Dubai Education programme, The Little Artists Programme is an artist-led set of workshops and tours for children, and for the first time in 2015 the programme has been extended to include teenagers up the age of 17. The program has commissioned Nicolás Paris, who is based in Bogota, Columbia, as a leader and he will be joined by UAE-based artists, designers, architects and teachers including Sofia Chatzisaranti, Khalda El Jack, Tulip Hazbar, and Malda Smadi who all have a special interest in children's art education, they will be pursuing an exciting range of experimental practices.

RCA Secret Dubai

Dubai has been selected by London's Royal College of Art (RCA) as the very first international venue for it's RCA Secret Dubai exhibition. Paul Smith, who is a contributor to the successful London RCA Secret, as well as this year's Secret Dubai, will be in town to inaugurate the market. Nearly 1,000 artists ranging from world class to up-and-coming, will create a one of a kind postcard-sized piece of art. Artists may choose to paint, draw, sketch, photograph or even produce a 3D sculpture.

What makes this truly unique is that the postcards are displayed anonymously so buyers have the thrill of guessing which artist or designer has produced the work before they buy. For a mere 500AED this is an opportunity to own an item from a legendary artist – previous contributors include; Grayson Perry, Paula Rego, Julian Opie, David Bailey, Jeremy Deller, Sir James Dyson, Sir Paul Smith and Burberry's Christopher Bailey. Not to mention a legendary artist in the making as students and alumni of the RCA will also be contributing their designs. 

Your essential guide to Art Dubai 2015: What to see and what to do

Terrace Talks 

Terrace Talks is a series of conversations that explores the relationships and support networks between artists, curators and patrons. This year's talks feature a range of speakers, from the Minister of Culture and Communication of France, Fleur Pellerin, to renowned museum curators Henry Kim and Catherine David, via artists such as MASBEDO, Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureshi. Patronage is in focus, with major collectors and patrons, such as Beatrice Bulgari and Dr Ramzi Dalloul discussing their support for artists and institutions. 

Also for the first time, talks will open up in Art Dubai Modern, debating archives with Vali Mahlouji and Sumesh Sharma of Clark House Intiative.

Finally, the second ArtNow Award goes to the veteran publisher, editor and archivist Jalal Uddin Ahmed who has spent decades supporting and documenting Pakistani artists and their work, and whose approach is illustrative of all that patronage can be.

Take a look at the terrace talks schedule below: 

Wednesday, March 18 2015

4:30pm–5:30pm | Terrace Talks: Patron Dr. Ramzi Dalloul in conversation with patron and curator Alia Al-Senussi. Location: Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, Madinat Jumeirah.

5.30pm–6.30pm | Modern Talk: Vali Mahlouji and Sumesh Sharma in conversation with Catherine David. Location: Art Dubai Modern, Mashreq Lounge.

6pm–7pm | Terrace Talks: Rehana Saigol in conversation with Sameera Raja; presentation of the ArtNow Lifetime Achievement Award to Jalal Uddin Ahmed. Location: Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, Madinat Jumeirah.

Thursday, March 19 2015

3pm–4pm | Terrace Talks: Madame la Ministre Fleur Pellerin and Institut du Monde Arabe president Jack Lang in conversation with H.E. Zaki Nusseibeh. Access: By invitation only. Location: Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, Madinat Jumeirah.

5pm–6pm | Terrace Talks: Beatrice Bulgari and MASBEDO in conversation with Nathan Clements-Gillespie. Location: Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, Madinat Jumeirah.

6pm–7pm | Henry Kim in conversation with Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureshi. Location: Water Terrace of The Abraaj Group Lounge, Madinat Jumeirah.

 

Art Dubai will be held at Dubai's Madinat Jumeriah March 18 – 21. Visit the Art Dubai website for a full list of exhibitors