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  • Feb 18, 2021

Art Dubai to go live with half the exhibitor list

View of Art Dubai in 2019. Courtesy Art Dubai.

Art Dubai announced on February 17 that its in-person March event will proceed with half the number of planned galleries. The news comes along with other alterations to the fair’s 14th edition, including a two-week delay and a change of venue.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is averaging over 3,000 confirmed daily cases of Covid-19 at time of writing, and several countries have suspended flights to the UAE. The 85 exhibitors of the original roster announced in December 2020 has been slashed to 45, with the updated list to be released on February 21. The former list was comprised of galleries from 36 countries, mostly from West Asia in addition to ones from Europe and elsewhere in Asia.

Even before Art Dubai’s announcement, galleries have been withdrawing from the event. Speaking to ArtAsiaPacific on January 26, London’s Grosvenor Gallery said that it decided to forgo this year’s edition “due to the Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom.” New-Delhi’s Nature Morte noted to AAP on February 3 that “it does not make sense to participate in Art Dubai next month.”

In addition, the fair will now be held from March 29–April 3 at the purpose-built Gate Building in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), instead of from March 17–20 at the usual Madinat Jumeirah resort. The move is meant to allow for better implementation of appropriate social distancing and health related measures. An advanced-booking system may be imposed to limit visitors, depending on circumstances in March.

Despites these changes, the fair stated that it “remain[s] confident in producing a physical edition of this year’s fair,” citing the UAE’s vaccination program as the world’s “second most advanced.” The UAE has inoculated more than 50 percent of its population, according to Our World in Data.

The fair plans to host a virtual Remote Participation Programme for international galleries unable to travel. Its other previously scheduled programs, such as the Invited Curators Programme in partnership with Dubai's Jameel Arts Centre and Sharjah Art Foundation, will be re-assessed with updates to be confirmed.

Due to the pandemic, Art Dubai’s live 2020 edition was cancelled while online programs were held instead in March 2020.

Martine Ma is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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