Prince Harry may have cancelled his polo trip to Dubai this month in deference to the political turmoil in the Middle East, but at least 80 galleries from Los Angeles to Beijing are going to Art Dubai, the Gulf’s biggest and longest-running international contemporary art fair, which opens on March 16. Although there has been a revolution in Egypt, a civil war looms in Libya, protesters have been on the streets of Bahrain, and tanks are out in neighbouring Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates are like a sea of tranquillity amid all the unrest.
The reason is, basically, money. The local Emiratis are better off, better looked after, and constitute only a fraction of the entire population anyway, the rest being expatriates. “It’s a different situation there – I don’t foresee any problems,” says Conor Macklin of London’s Grosvenor Vadhera Gallery, who is taking a roster of works by Indian and Pakistani artists to woo the core of wealthy Indian art buyers who live there.