To many Westerners’ eyes, Dubai appears little more than a hollow agglomeration of gleaming towers and sand. This weekend, L’Institut du Monde Arabe (The Arab World Institute) will do its best to dispel that image with a bumper program of art exhibitions, film screenings, talks and workshops all centred on the burgeoning Emirati arts scene. Dubai Next: Faces of Tomorrow, now in its second edition, is keen to impress - just take one look at its swish venue, Zaha Hadid's floating pavilion (now permanently installed just outside the Institute), to see what we mean.
Bookended by keynote speeches by leading artists and cultural impresarios from Dubai, the festival will feature exhibits from the likes of Czech photographer Martin Becka (who made his name tracking Dubai’s restless urban expansion in beautiful black and white photography) and female artist Lateefa bint Maktoum (whose elaborate artworks are routinely auctioned in aid of Medecins Sans Frontières). Woven into the programme are a handful of film screenings – amid all the unfamiliar names you’ll be sure to recognise Jean Reno, who stars in Abdullah Al Kaabi’s short film ‘The Philosopher’. The festival is rounded out by a few pedagogical Q&A sessions aimed at art and film students, and a chance to sample the flavours of the Gulf courtesy of chef Shaikha Al Ali.
This exhilarating lineup represents a step up from the inaugural festival, held in 2008. If anything, this growth is a testament to the potential of Dubai’s burgeoning scene (a process that Time Out Dubai has been tracking since 2001). Now’s your chance to catch up.