Arts & Culture The Arab Art Issue

6 contemporary art spaces in the GCC you need to know

From Jeddah to Muscat to Kuwait, these spaces should be on your radar.

.للقراءة بالعربية انقروا هنا

By Sharifa Al Badi

In recent years, the Gulf region has been blossoming with new art museums, galleries and fairs, a testament to the growing arts scenes. We share with you six contemporary art spaces, from Jeddah to Muscat to Kuwait, that you should be on your radar. 

Abdulnasser Gharem Studio, Riyadh

Gharem Studio in Riyadh. Photo: Courtesy.

Abdulnasser Gharem is one of the Gulf’s most prominent contemporary artists. In the past years, he has become a household name and is the highest selling living Khaleeji artist to date. The Saudi artist was born in 1973 in Saudi’s Khamis Mushait, and by 2003 he had completed his arts studies at Al Meftaha Arts Village in Abha. Since then, Abdulnasser has exhibited his work in Europe, across the Gulf  and the US including at the Martin Gropius-Bau in Berlin, the Los Angles County Museum of Art, the British Museum and the V&A Museum in London, as well as the Venice, Sharjah and Berlin Biennales. Astoundingly, he accomplished all of this while he was working in the Saudi Arabian army as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Understanding the importance of fostering the arts and creative thought. Abdulnasser has since donated a number of resources to help grow the art scene in his home country. In 2013, he also co-founded the Gharem Studio , a non-profit arts organization that is committed to “encouraging individual thought and self-expression” amongst artists in the Muslim world, with his brother Ajlan. The studio holds various arts exhibitions, film screenings and lectures, and offers residency programs, art education, career guidance, equipment and promotional opportunities for artists to exhibit their work around the world. It is also a space for artists to meet and create freely.

To find out more, visit: .

The Art Space, Bahrain

Art Space in Bahrain. Photo: Courtesy.

Founded in 2018 by Esra Faraj, the Art Space Bahrain is a hub for creativity and innovation, a digital platform and an art gallery located in Bahrain Bay. It is focused on “fostering the GCC’s diverse and dynamic creative community and strives to promote and support the visual and contemporary culture of the Arab world.” 

Art Space strives to be a safe space where ideas can merge and grow; a place for knowledge sharing and celebrating contemporary culture and artistic practices. They are passionate about discovering new and inspiring opportunities for artists and makers in the Gulf through effective global strategies and community engagement. They aspire to showcase their artists and their works to the largest international audience possible. Their most recent online exhibition, Safest Spaces , focuses on de-stigmatizing mental health issues in the region,  and promoting self-love and care.

To find out more about it and the , visit .

Stal Art Gallery, Muscat

Based in the ancient city of Muscat, Stal Gallery is Dubai-based Al Serkal Groups’s cultural project in Oman. Stal Gallery and Studio aims “to promote the creation, appreciation and engagement of all visual arts” in its various forms within Muscat, the Sultanate and the GCC. The gallery represents the work of Omani as well as other international artists. It is dedicated to promoting the contemporary visual arts scene in Muscat by discovering new artists, or helping existing ones hone their skills. It also aims to educate the public about the arts by exposing them to different and new art forms.

One of its annual programs is the ‘Young & Emerging Artist Prize’ (YEAP), which supports young and emerging Omani artists (18 – 35) to develop their creative careers. During the program artists will get to develop the creative concept of their artwork, which will get showcased in a final exhibition. YEAP is a unique programme in Oman, giving budding artists a chance to work alongside renowned Omani artist Hassen Meer,  as well as other Omani and international artists.

The gallery also offers residency programs for national and international artists as well as various workshops for beginners and more established artists. They also have a library where artists and those interested in the arts can do research using a variety of print and digital resources .

To find out more, visit .

Athr Gallery, Jeddah

Founded in 2009 by Hamza Serafi and Mohammed Hafiz, Jeddah’s Athr gallery has played a pioneering role in developing the contemporary art scene in the Kingdom. The gallery, which helped put Saudi art and artists on the global map, is all about experimentation, exploring new ideas and diffusing the artists’ creative processes into society. Athr is a supporter of upcoming as well as established artists from Saudi Arabia and the wider region; they provide regional artists with various opportunities to expand their knowledge and experiences in the gallery in Jeddah and even beyond it, including through international residency programmes, special commissions, international group exhibitions and funding.

To find out more, visit: .

Den Gallery, Kuwait

Den Gallery, based in the heart of Kuwait, was founded by a group of Kuwaiti artists who wanted to showcase one of a kind as well as cultural art forms. The gallery aims to bring together emerging and established contemporary artists, and strives to present new methods in painting, drawing, sculpturing and graphics. With a focus on developing regional contemporary artists, the gallery offers artists with the chance to showcase their work to the public.

To find out more, visit: .

Cure8 Art, Muscat

Founded in 2017 by two Khaleeji artists Sarah Al Aulaqi and Alia Al Shamsi, Cure8 Art strives to create an open space where art grows organically. Both artists wanted to create a safe haven for all kinds of artists to come and exchange different ideas, and their doors are always open for the thinkers and creatives of the future. Cure8 Art has featured local artists like Hassan Meer, Rawan Al Mahrouqi, Dalia Al Said, Debjani and Laila Masri. Currently Cure8 Art is functioning online and is open for requests or enquires. However, post-pandemic they will announce where they will launch their physical space.

To find out more, visit .

Sharifa Al Badi is a published writer and author from the magical lands of Oman. She has written for Esquire ME, Khaleejesque and The Culture Trip. She is also the author of “Themis Aella & The Magical Forest” and “50 Things To Know As An Adult.” 

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