Affordable art? Head to Abu Dhabi

The Ramadan Art Bazaar in Abu Dhabi is a must for UAE art lovers, and an essential stop for the bargain hunters

‘Beauty of Hope’ by Sumayyah Al 
‘Beauty of Hope’ by Sumayyah Al Suwaidi

‘Prayer’ by RP ChezhiyanDhs1,100
‘Prayer’ by RP Chezhiyan

Disillusioned IV’ by Neena RaiDhs4,000
Disillusioned IV’ by Neena Rai

‘TAWAKALT Series 2010’ by ChritchDhs3,800
‘TAWAKALT Series 2010’ by Chritch


Art collectors are lucky people – they’re normally blessed with the type of disposable income enjoyed by the landed gentry. For many, filling one’s house with fancy artwork tips the budget, especially in purse-pinching times such as these. And while mass-produced stock photographs of generic foliage and cute babies in buckets are pretty enough, the likelihood is your neighbour a few doors down will have the same piece in their downstairs bathroom.

Thankfully, there is a way to afford original artwork and be frugal. A trip to the Ramadan Art Bazaar at Ghaf Gallery in Abu Dhabi, which opens on August 15 and runs until the end of Ramadan, would be a great start.

This is the third event of its kind for curator Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, who believes art should be accessible to everyone. ‘I noticed that there are a huge number of people who would love to own original artworks, if only they had some financial help. As an artist myself, I don’t see any harm in selling my pieces at half price, or even less, at least once a year. This way, more people will be encouraged to buy original art, rather than the reproduced pieces we see everywhere.’

The event brings together prominent Emirati artists including Abdul Rahim Salem, Mohammed Al Qassab, Mattar Bin Lahej, Khalil Abdulwahid, Azza Al Qubaisi and Jalal Luqman, alongside international professionals such as Neena Rai, RP Chezhiyan, Chritch and Emily Gordon (as well as work by the curator herself). It promises to offer an exciting mix of styles and media, including digital paintings, sculpture and photography, in addition to more traditional pieces. And the best part? There won’t be anything on sale for more than Dhs4,000, with most pieces on offer for a lot less.

‘I’d invest in Abdul Rahim Salem’s work – he is one of the pioneers of his generation and I’m a huge fan,’ reveals Sumayyah. ‘I would also buy one or two of Jalal Luqman’s doodles, because doodles are the rawest form of art and I believe in years to come they’ll be worth a lot of money.’

Having exhibited in the UAE since 2003, Sumayyah’s digital work is now familiar to local art lovers. Emotionally charged, fantastical but also haunting, there is a unique, chilling quality to much of her work, which shares a similar, beguiling style to the films offered by gothic director Tim Burton: gaunt nymphs peering out of the near black, or framed within a romantic fantasy. ‘As well as the Ramadan Art Bazaar, I will be working on my solo exhibition, which will also be held at Ghaf Gallery [on October 18-28],’ she reveals. ‘After that, I’ll be producing new artworks for two group shows in Paris and Istanbul in December.’

If Sumayyah’s work is anything to go by, the Ramadan Art Bazaar promises to be a much-needed attraction in an otherwise largely empty summer art calendar. So instead of spending all your dirhams in the mall (fashion is fickle, you know), save a small sum for an original, ‘seasonless’ piece of art.
The Ramadan Art Fair takes place at Ghaf Gallery, Al Khaleej Al Arabi (30th) Street, Abu Dhabi from August 15-September 9. For info, call 02 665 5332 or see

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