10 Must-See Contemporary Art Galleries in Dubai

Picture of Helen Armitage
Updated: 15 November 2016
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Dubai, the United Arab Emirates’ second largest city, has, in recent years, become one of the Middle East’s foremost cultural capitals and boasts an impressive community of contemporary art galleries. From the masters of modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art to up-and-coming talents and emerging international artists, our updated guide to Dubai’s Best Contemporary Art Galleries will ensure you make the most of the city’s vibrant arts scene.

Mottahedan Projects

Mottahedan Projects, launched by avid art collector Mohammed Mottahedan in 2011, has been going from strength to strength over the last four years, with a momentum at once discreet and powerful. What makes the space stand out is its unconventional approach to artists and works exhibited: by guaranteeing the purchase of exhibited works, Mottahedan Projects allows its artists, both emerging and established, to approach exhibitions with a freer sense of direction. This philosophy doesn’t surprise: after the gallery opening, Mottahedan was quick to assert that ’Artists who do unconventional things are the ones that make it’. With Iran’s Mojgan Endjavi-Barbé now involved in the curation process, the gallery has its finger on the pulse of contemporary art across the Middle East.

Graffiti in Al-Quoz
©Peter Dowley/Flickr
Dia Azzawi, Elegy to my Trapped City, installation view, Meem Gallery 2012
Courtesy Dia Azzawi & Meem Gallery

Meem Gallery

With past exhibitions featuring works by Middle Eastern masters such as ground-breaking Iraqi painter and sculptor Shakir Hassan Al Said and M’hamed Issiakhem, Meem Gallery has established itself as once of world’s premier venues for modern Middle Eastern art. From 2010 onwards the gallery, which was founded in 2007, has also exhibited many works of innovative contemporary art and boasts the privilege of presenting Iraqi-Canadian artist Mahmoud Obaidi’s first solo exhibition in Dubai. In 2014, Meem Gallery was proud to present Independent, a solo exhibition featuring Jerusalem-born Steve Sabella’s photographic works, and will also exhibit pioneering Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi at the Frieze London art fair.

Meem Gallery, Umm Suqeim Road, Dubai, UAE, +971 4347 7883

Art Sawa

Recognising the potential of Dubai’s burgeoning contemporary art scene, gallery owner and director Amel B. Makkawi set up Art Sawa in 2008. Makkawi’s vision was to provide a platform on which regionally based artists could exhibit their work and participate in the city’s vibrant arts community. Over the years, Art Sawa has grown to represent and promote artists from the Middle East and North Africa and works hard to foster interaction with contemporary art on both a regional and international level. Recent exhibitions have included works by Syrian sculptor Mustafa Ali and Damascus-born painter Sara Shamma.
Art Sawa, Gate # 8,Gate Village, Al Sa’ada Street, Dubai, UAE, +971 4386 2366

Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde

Founded in 2005 as B21 – an art space dedicated to dialogue and cultural exchange – Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde underwent a change of and later, in 2011, a relocation to the Al-Quoz district. Since then, the gallery has become one of Dubai’s most ground-breaking contemporary art galleries. The gallery represents a core group of emerging and established artistic talents and aims to promote their work internationally via collaborating with major museums and art biennales. In 2013, Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde was proud to add to its repertoire the acclaimed Dubai-based conceptual artist Hassan Sharif, alongside fellow talents such as :mentalKLINIK, an artist duo from Istanbul working with installation.
Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde, Street 8, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE, +971 4323 5052

© Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde 
Mojo Gallery
©Carolyn Speranza/ Flickr

Mojo Gallery

Founded in 2006, Mojo Gallery was established with the purpose of acting as a multifunctional space that brings together the disciplines of art, design and new media, focusing on emerging contemporary artists and placing specific emphasis on conceptual works of art. The gallery recently hosted a group exhibition, Turmoil x 4, featuring the works of four up-and-coming artists – Heba Al Ansari, Iman Hasbani, Wedad Alnasser and Hany Rashed – exploring their interpretation of political conflict, and often hosting artist-led workshops for budding artists.
Mojo Gallery, Unit 33, Al Serkal Avenue, Dubai, UAE, +971 4347 7388

The Third Line

A contemporary art gallery focusing specifically on Middle Eastern artists, The Third Line was established with a dual purpose – to represent Middle Eastern talents locally, nationally and internationally and to host non-profit exhibitions designed to stimulate interest in art in the local area. The gallery has been instrumental in developing the profile of Dubai’s art scene internationally and represents some of the Middle East’s most respected artists, including Iran’s Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmain and her stunning glass mosaic sculptures, Kuwait-born photographer Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum.
The Third Line, Street 6A, Dubai, UAE, +971 4341 1367

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