Art gallery owners in Dubai who have not been granted a stand at Art Dubai 2009 have criticised the art fair for being "unsupportive" and questioned its emphasis on international galleries.
Their disappointment was expressed at a roundtable at The Majlis Gallery in Bastakiya, Bur Dubai last month.
Owner of the Majlis Alison Collins said: "We have applied to be part of Art Dubai for three years and been turned down. It's been rather unsupportive".
The general manager of Opera Gallery Dubai, which has just opened at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Bertrand Epaud agreed: "We applied and we were turned down. I was really disappointed."
"We are the ones that have invested money, time and trust that this region has a future in terms of art and we have come here, taken the risk but been rejected - this is something I don't understand."
"We've been bringing major artworks from around the world; these same artworks will be in the other galleries [accepted from international markets] that haven't spent a penny," he complained, adding that he would not attend Art Dubai, which will be held from March 18-21 2009 at Madinat Jumeirah.
Art Dubai education and project manager Laura Trelford defended the fair, explaining that the selection process was impacted by space constraints and a need to "bring an international art community to see what is happening in Dubai".
Trelford said: "We have hundreds of applications from galleries internationally, and if we just had local galleries represented then we wouldn't get the international audience that we do. It would be impossible to have representation from every gallery in Dubai.
"It's about bringing artists and galleries from across the world together here and responding to local galleries as well. That's why we have the Art Bus, which brings people from the fair to the Creek, and we have tours and make sure we have events that are separate to the art fair itself," said Trelford.