Art Jameel enters new phase of development

Dubai, United Arab Emirates
March 15, 2017

Art Jameel, a non-profit organisation that supports arts, education and heritage in the Middle East, today announced a number of initiatives designed to enrich the thriving cultural scene in the region and beyond.

Building upon its strong history of exhibitions, educational initiatives, institutional partnerships and community outreach, Art Jameel is entering a new phase of development, marked by two major announcements today: a new Arts Centre in Dubai, due to open in winter 2018 and a long-term partnership with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which will enable the Museum to acquire works by modern and contemporary artists from the Middle East.

One of the first non-profit contemporary arts institutions in Dubai, the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai will present curated exhibitions that draw from the Jameel Art Collection, as well as regional and international solo and group shows. The Jameel Arts Centre - a 10,000 square metre, three-storey multi-disciplinary space designed by UK-based firm Serie Architects - is designed as a hub for educational and research initiatives, while its wider programming embraces collaboration and partnerships with local, regional and international artists, curators and organisations. Art Jameel is developing a Curatorial Council to advise on its exhibitions and collections programming, which at this stage includes Jessica Morgan, director, Dia Art Foundation, New York, and the curator and writer Murtaza Vali, based between Sharjah and New York.

Located at the tip of Dubai’s Culture Village, overlooking the Dubai Creek, the Centre includes more than 1,000 square metres of dedicated gallery space, plus a 300 square metre open-access research centre dedicated to artists and cultural movements of the GCC and wider Arab world; additional flexible events spaces; a roof terrace (designed for film screenings and events); an outdoor sculpture area; and a café, restaurant and bookshop.

Renowned landscape architect Anouk Vogel has drawn inspiration from the desert biome for the concept for the courtyards that punctuate the building: each outdoor space will represent a distinct desert environment, and include some rare plants sourced from the UAE and around the world.

Fady Mohammed Jameel, President of Art Jameel, explained, “We are delighted to be embarking on a new phase of development for Art Jameel – strengthening our programmes in Saudi Arabia, across the Arab World and internationally, as well as founding our first permanent space, the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai. Likewise, establishing a partnership with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the most-visited, encyclopedic museums in the world, allows us to further support contemporary artists from the region and share their work with a broad international public. We are proud to work closely with a number of partners to fulfill this important vision.”

Art Jameel’s partnership with The Met continues the organisation’s core mandate to raise the profile of contemporary Middle Eastern artists and increase international dialogue.

The Art Jameel Fund was established in collaboration with The Met to support activities related to the Museum’s Middle Eastern initiatives including: acquisitions, global contemporary programming, and the Arabic translation of educational resources. The fund most recently supported the Museum’s acquisition of two works by Egyptian artist Maha Maamoun: the single channel video 2026 (2010) and six photographs from a series entitled Domestic Tourism I (2005). In both, Maamoun explores the way in which the city of Cairo circulates within an economy of reproducible images including advertisements, film, television, the Internet, and photography.

Clare Davies, Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, reflected on the partnership, noting, “Art Jameel’s support allows the museum to put the most exciting contemporary practices and influential modern works from across the region in conversation with its rich collections and diverse audiences.”

In addition to the new collaboration with The Met, Art Jameel’s existing partnerships continue to grow in 2017. Art Jameel’s relationship with the Victoria & Albert Museum supports the Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art and the prestigious biennial Jameel Prize, while the long-standing partner-ship with the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts has resulted in the establishment and development of co-managed heritage institutes in Cairo, Jeddah and – opening 2019 – a major new institute on the Dumfries House estate in Scotland. Art Jameel remains committed to projects that support the arts across Saudi Arabia, including the continual evolution of the open-air Jeddah Sculpture Museum and other projects under development.

Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel, who was appointed last year, said, “This is an exciting moment for Art Jameel, as we embark on a dynamic period of growth and renewal, expanding programmes and developing new partnerships. We are on a journey of supporting the arts and heritage as we develop new programmes of exhibition-making, and educational, research and publishing initiatives.” 

In advance of the opening of the Jameel Arts Centre Dubai in winter 2018, the organisation has opened a temporary Project Space in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, with a dynamic programme of exhibitions, projects, talks and events. The inaugural exhibition, featuring a five-channel video by Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme, is part of a series focusing on single works from the Jameel Art Collection.