From the swish streets of Gate Village in DIFC to the rough ‘n’ ready Al Quoz district, Dubai has plenty of art to keep you inspired. Here are the five best exhibitions to see right now, whether you’re a casual observer or the next Charles Saatchi.

XVA Gallery launches its revamped space in the winding lanes of historic Bur Dubai with an exhibition by English artist Jonathan Gent. As XVA’s artist-in-residence in 2008, Gent’s explorations of the simultaneous isolation and stimulation of the city had a profound effect on his work. This show of new work – reflections of a summer spent on the Med and his memories of Dubai – captures that in his characteristic faux-simple technique.
Until January 31
XVA Gallery, Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3535383. Metro: Al Fahidi.

Art galleries in Dubai - Gently

Art galleries in Dubai - WatercolourBOTANICAL WATERCOLOUR WORKSHOP
Hosted by watercolour artist and tutor Susan Thomson, this workshop at the Majlis Gallery is a fine opportunity to gain first-hand skills in one of the finest watercolour traditions – the depiction of plants and the natural world. Never picked up a paintbrush? No worries. Classes are open to all levels. Thomson works one-to-one with students, so there’s plenty of scope to work on ideas and skills to gain a deeper insight of the medium.
January 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 21
The Majlis Gallery, Al Musalla Roundabaout, Al Fahidi, Bur Dubai, Sat to Thur 10am to 6pm. Dhs350. Tel: (04) 3536233. Metro: Al Fahidi.

This month sees the UAE’s first exhibition dedicated to sound art. Projects include a recreation of what is believed to be the first sound artwork, Arseny Avraamov’s 1922 Symphony Of Factory Sirens.
January 13 to 26
Gallery of Light, Ductac, Mall Of The Emirates, Al Barsha, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3414777.

Iranian artist Amir H Fallah takes an intriguing look at the relationship between artists and their patrons for this, his third solo show in Dubai. All the works are pre-commissioned portraits and draw from the art historical convention of representing their subject matter not just figuratively, but through treasured personal items. So far, so traditional. Fallah’s ‘twist’, however, lies in the fact that he retained complete artistic control over each work – his individual patrons only saw these representations of themselves for the first time at the exhibition preview.
Until January 23
The Third Line, Al Quoz, Dubai, free. Tel: (04) 3411367. Taxi: Opposite Golden Sands Laundry, Al Quoz. 

Art galleries in Dubai - The Collected


Two photographers explore the effects of globalisation on Africa in this hard-hitting exhibition. The hunger for technological advance has reduced much of the continent to a dumping ground for toxic waste. The photos pit the ugly by-products of modernity against the vitality of traditional tribal culture. Austrian-born Mario Marino is a celebrated travel portrait photographer, and has been photographing people in their native lands since 2000. Kai Löffelbein says, “My images take sides and aim to make us realise our responsibility in a globalised world.”
Until January 23
The Empty Quarter Gate Village, Building 02, DIFC, Dubai, Sun to Thur 10am to 7pm, free. Tel: (04) 3231210. Metro: Financial Centre.