The region’s biggest gathering of galleries and artists from the Middle East and South Asia is back next week for its 12th anniversary. Connoisseur or first-timer, mainstream or niche, there’s something for everyone at Art Dubai…

Although Art Dubai began life as a trade fair for collectors and galleries, it has long since morphed into an essential highlight on any culture vulture’s annual calendar.

This year, 104 galleries from 47 countries bring art to the halls of the Madinat Jumeirah that aim to stimulate all senses through visual, audio and tactile experiences.

Art aside, there is plenty for the intellectual. The Global Art Forum, which this year is titled I Am Not A Robot, explores the impact of automation, artificial intelligence and the rise of machines through open conversations and panel discussions. There will be performances and a rich cinema-screening programme by Cinema Akil, as well as a symposium about artists.

Children’s workshops, book launches and after-hours parties also fill up the calendar. And don’t forget the interactive installation titled The Room – which, this year, is put together by an art collective called GCC and takes the form of a mock TV studio that explores the tropes of daytime talk shows commonly featured on TV stations across the Arab world.

Here are 4 must-see artworks:

With thousands of pieces of art tucked away in all the gallery booths, you might be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed. Here are some of the most visually impressive pieces to look out for.

1) Diana Al-Hadid, Smoke Screen (2015) at Marianne Boesky Gallery

Known for her gravity defying works, this artist is interested in the way things are built and how they decay. This work is made of six panels and acts as a passageway for audiences to contemplate within.

2) Michelangelo Pistoletto, Color And Light (2016) at Galleria Continua

Famed around the world for his use of mirrors, Pistoletto’s works are always visually appealing. In this series, he has used mirrors to represent the world map and affixed fragmented sections across several brightly coloured canvases.

3) TeamLab, Continuous Life And Death At The Now of Eternity (2017) at Ikkan Art Gallery, Pace Gallery and Martin Browne Contemporary

This Japanese collective of artists produces mesmerising animated sound and performance works that are based on real scientific and natural processes. This is art for our digital age and has to be seen to be believed.

4) Jacob Hashimoto, The Answers To All Questions Makes The  World Vanish (2017) at Leila Heller Gallery

Hashimoto is best known for using traditional Japanese methods to create large-scale “tapestries” out of thousands of hand-crafted paper and wood kites. The results are  a kind of dreamy, fairy-tale landscape that somehow simulate nature without replicating it.

How to plan your fair

Wednesday March 21

The Global Art Forum kicks off with discussions ranging from what street lingo will sound like in 2050, the future job market and robotic monks.

Thursday March 22

Start the weekend with one of Art Dubai’s legendary night parties taking place on Fort Island within The Room installation by GCC.

Friday March 23

Explore the gallery halls to discover and enjoy art from all over the world. Afterwards, head to the restaurants in Madinat Jumeirah to relax and digest all that you have seen.

Saturday March 24

On the last day, don’t miss the exhibition of work from the winners of the Abraaj Group Art Prize. If you have kids, enrol them in a workshop while you take tea on the terrace.

Essential info

Wednesday, March 21: 2pm to 6.30pm. Ladies’ day preview and Global Art Forum.

Full public days:

Thursday, March 22: 4pm to 9.30pm
Friday, March 23: 2pm to 9.30pm
Saturday, March 24: noon to 6.30pm

Dhs60 (online)
Dhs90 (on the door)

Parking for Art Dubai is at the nearby Dubai Police Academy, with continuous shuttles to the fair. Please note that at peak times there will be no valet parking available at Madinat Jumeirah, and it is strongly advised to come by taxi for evening events. For more info visit

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