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Welcome to a world of travel, entertainment and culture, curated from a global collective of writers, photojournalists and artists. Each article of our award-winning magazine is sure to inspire, no matter which of our destinations you call home.
 
 
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Travel to Dubai

 
 

Alserkal Avenue, Dubai

24 April 2016

It’s how creative districts should be – an intriguing mix of the old and new, the street and the fine art, the working artist and the monied. Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue is all grown up and has become an eclectic hub for the city’s creative community.

Once simply a sand-blown industrial area, Al Quoz is establishing itself as a thriving arts district, with Alserkal at its heart. Beginning as a small cluster of 20 dusty warehouses that attracted forward-thinking art galleries, studios and workshops in 2007, the five laneways comprising the hub have organically emerged as one of the region’s foremost arts and culture neighbourhoods.

Its success has seen the site open a shiny new expansion, with purpose-built sand coloured galleries resolutely reflecting their predecessors. Doubled in sized, with an extensive arts programme and public installations, the arts centre now welcomes esteemed international galleries alongside homegrown talent.

We visited Alserkal Avenue and spoke to some of its creative community about the arts hub it has become.

“Alserkal Avenue has evolved to become an important platform for genuine grassroots cultural exchange,” says Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, founder of Alserkal Avenue. “Not just for the Dubai arts community but within the region at large. We want this cultural wealth to cement the importance of The Avenue as a home for visionaries and creative leaders, making it their window to the world.”

“When we set up shop here, it was a bold decision,” says Mohamed Somji, founder of Gulf Photo Plus. “But we loved the industrial area both for the space that it afforded us to conduct our workshops, host photo exhibitions and offer studio facilities, and also because there was a distinct vibe and authenticity about the area. We’ll be marking our fifth year here this summer, and during that time, the Alserkal team have stayed true to their vision, and hard work and commitment has made it one of the most vibrant and creative areas in the city. We’re very proud to be a part of it.”

Leila Heller is one of New York’s premier art galleries. Why did you decide to open your new space in Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue?

“We view Dubai as the long-term centre of the Middle East,” says Alexander Heller, director of Leila Heller Gallery. ”We came to Dubai with the intention of exposing well-known western artists that have not yet shown in the Middle East, coupled with the most important Middle Eastern artists working in the region and the diaspora today. As a result, I live between New York and Dubai… I basically live on an Emirates plane. Our gallery here is the hub for a larger business strategy that we have across the region. Dubai has clearly become a cultural hub and our expansion here from New York comes at a time when we believe in the proliferation of art in this region more than ever.”

“This is where you’ll find the top arts and culture players in Dubai,” says Sunny Rahbar, co-founder and managing partner of The Third Line gallery. “Having called Al Quoz home for nearly a decade, the gallery is celebrating its 10th year by joining the fold of the rich art community housed within Alserkal Avenue. As we enter our 10th year, we’ve spent some time looking inwards and outwards and all around us. The Dubai we set up in has changed a lot and we just love this new energised, vibrant and happening city.”

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