Sarah Elzeini writes about the how and the why, of the Gulf art boom in Huff Post, pointing out that “Art in the Gulf has not only triggered a much-needed dialogue among the region’s residents, but outside of the region as well.” Artists mentioned in the piece include Saudi Ahmed Matar and Kuwaiti Shurooq Amin.
Importantly, Elzeini notes that the funding for arts is also benefiting artists outside the Gulf – she gives the example of Syrian artist Sara Shamma. Beyond that, the funding from the Gulf for both arts and literature can also have a positive effect on education, as this piece on Dubai Cares funded programme to encourage Gazan children to read suggests.
Elzeini’s piece also touches on the museum boom, which has been the subject of a number recent books, including Reimagining Museums and its companion volume to Museums and the Material World: Collecting the Arabian Peninsula. Elzeini notes: “Saudi Arabia has committed around $1.7 billion for the construction of 230 new museums. Jeddah already is showcasing contemporary art housed in Ayyam Gallery and Athr Gallery.”
On the censorship issue, which has been much commented on when it comes to the Gulf art scene, Elzeini writes:
Both traditional and liberal currents are in Saudi Arabia, and for the artwork that may not be able to be shown in Saudi Arabia, their work is exported and displayed internationally, and those Saudi Artists still live in peace in the Kingdom.
Another really good example of the impact Gulf money has on the wider art scene, and the underfunded Arab cinema in particular, is the wonderful Jordanian film Theeb, which was supported by the Doha Film Institute and Abu Dhabi Sanad.