An art show's return to Dubai is a Indication of attempts to reinvigorate this city-state's social landscape and economy
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- It was a spectacle reminiscent of pre-pandemic Dubai: Art fans dressed in designer clothes or alternative manner, walking around in among the city's many swanky locations. Bloggers, VIPs and influencers filming on their cellular phones. People mingling and laughing.
The only difference? They all wore masks.
After being canceled in March a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Art Dubai returned this week into the sunbaked desert metropolis it requires home, becoming among the very first in-person international art fairs of 2021. The series is part of the city-state's attempts to reopen to international tourism and trade that power its market.
"I think it's been an emotional, fantastic moment," he added. "I believe everyone was awaiting stop looking to screens and having a physical relationship with a work of art."
This year's installment is different, however. Typically held in the huge conference area of Madinat Jumeirah at the shadow of Dubai's iconic, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab resort, the 2021 occasion rather came into Dubai International Financial Center. Temporary galleries sprung up round the centre's Gate House, the landmark construction at the business hub.
Indications of this pandemic are still everywhere: Social-distancing signals and hand sanitizer dispensers stand visible in the tents home the galleries. Individuals attending the fair can reserve a specific time slot in advance to guarantee their entrance. Those worried about being around a crowd can have a virtual tour of their fair from home.
Even some of the art is teleconferencing to the occasion. Art Dubai introduced a program allowing galleries not able to go to Dubai to link to visitors via video.
The fair features 50 contemporary and contemporary galleries out of 31 nations, specializing in regions that are not main players on the global art scene. Additionally, it focuses on artists from the Middle East.
"participate in this fair shows the decision of artwork to be a part of bringing life back to normal, for individuals and humankind," al-Shashai explained. "It helps individuals live in a much better way, even when there are disasters and tragedies going on in the world."
Since Dubai went to a lockdown in ancient 2020, the town's big events closed down, together with its long-haul carrier Emirates. Even the autocratically ruled emirate moved aggressively to reopen in July to tourists. Coronavirus numbers however spiked to levels hidden after New Year's Eve.
Since that time, reported every new disease numbers have dropped to over 2,000, from highs of almost 4,000 in the worst of the winter. The United Arab Emirates is vaccinating at one of the fastest prices in the world, hoping to be ready for Dubai hosting its Expo 2020 world's fair in October, after the pandemic forced a delay of the event last year.
With airlines flying again, big events back to the calendar, and pubs and restaurants open to residents and tourists -- albeit masked when not eating or drinking -- the UAE expects to power through the remainder of the pandemic.
"Corona changed lifestyle as a whole," al-Shashai said. "I found that people are only waiting for a chance to come back, and they will, and they will rebuild, and they will forget everything that happened, and it will become stories to be told"
The pandemic also featured within the art exhibited in the show.
"I believe civilization is something that should never be canceled and I think it doesn't matter the instances that you are going through," del Val said. "I think it's a way that we may really interrelate with each other and where our senses and our positiveness come back to life."
"I believe one of those magics that Art Dubai is handling this week is precisely that... bringing people (into) a very different frame of mind," he added.
"We are becoming humans ."