This week in Dubai is all about art.
Added to the list of festivals, namely jazz, literature, comedy, street entertainment and of course shopping, Art Dubai is another week-long celebration that engulfs this city and is impossible to avoid it. If you’ve seen my attempt at drawing a horse (or is it a cow?) you’ll know I’m no Picasso. But this festival has become a must-see on everyones’ calendar – arty or not.
It’s come a long way. Admittedly four years ago I remember waddling around Madinat ballroom (I was heavily pregnant with my second daughter Emily, hence the waddle) making all the right noises and nodding in approval as we viewed the art work on display, yet secretly thinking that Charlotte, my then two year old, could have done better. There was something somewhat pretentious about the atmosphere. Now it’s taken on a different feel and rather than being contained to a gold-plated ballroom it’s spread across the city in the growing number of art galleries.
This weekend buses are picking up from the Madinat and doing tours of all the galleries in either Bastakyia or Al Quoz. Only in the past month a handful of new galleries have opened on Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz (who says industrial estates are dull?). We’ll be appreciating the food and heavily indulging at the Beachcomber brunch on Friday with the grandparents so I won’t be boarding – I’ll have to explore them and report back when the ‘old folk’ have gone home to the UK and the kids back to school.
However, I haven’t missed out on Art Dubai completely. Last night I and JB (that’s my better half) were invited to the START Gala Dinner. Established by the partners of Art Dubai back in 2007, START is a non-profit organisation that uses art to enrich the lives of thousands of under-priviledged children, including refugee and orphaned children, across the poorest parts of the Middle East.
Three scholarships were handed out and the recipients were there to give some incredibly moving speeches that made the whole room feel humbled.
Apart from the fab entertainment of cirque sol esque acrobats and a Story Time theme which saw even the menu based on well-known fairy tales and stories (particularly the dessert which was a gooey slab of sponge, chocolate and icing moulded to look like Willy Wonka chocolate bar that had been ripped open to reveal that infamous golden ticket) the most impressive part of the whole evening was the charity auction.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars (around US$900,000) was raised for START through the sale of sculptures, yacht charters, pink gold diamond earings and a Elie Saab (whoever he or she is) handbag (I’m pretty convinced that going for US$20,000 it was not a Karama fake). But the most unusual Lot in the auction was a one-off commission by artist Sacha Jafri. He has created, among others, pieces for David Beckham, Nelson Mandela and Disney. He was prepared to create a personalised piece for the highest bidder – taking six months to complete. The bidding started at US$100,000 and finished at double that – TWICE. Sacha agreed to create two pieces to two rival bidders for US$200,000 each. A phenomenal achievement.
Money, money, money must be funny in a rich man’s world! Jaw dropping…
About this blog...
I set up this blog to reveal what real life is like here in the UAE - the good and the bad. I'll chat about what I've been up to, Dubai news and developments, my thoughts about expat life here (and in general) and reports about my holidays and adventures in the region (travel is my bag after all).