art dubai unveils collectors' circle programme for march 2008
Launched in Cairo, new collecting community will fosterMiddle East’s cultural growth
Art Dubai 19-22 March 2008Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah - The Arabian Resort of Dubai, United Arab Emirates www.artdubai.ae 
In order to further contribute to the cultural development of the Middle East’s arts community, Art Dubai (formerly the DIFC Gulf Art Fair) today announced the creation of the Collectors’ Circle at a press briefing in Cairo, Egypt.
The Art Dubai Collectors’ Circle is aimed at both seasoned and new collectors of contemporary art in the Middle East, and will include an annual programme of worldwide events. By-invitation membership in the programme will be initially limited to 200 places. As well as providing investment strategies and guidelines, the Collectors’ Circle inaugural event is a two-day conference on ‘Art Patronage in the Business Age’ taking place at the DIFC on 17-18 March 2008.
“Art Dubai sees the role of the collector as pivotal in establishing a successful contemporary art scene in the Middle East. The Collectors' Circle is a unique programme of events tailored specifically for those private individuals and corporations wishing to become more involved with the region's vibrant and growing art scene,” said John Martin, fair director of Art Dubai.
“Our initial two day conference in March 2008 will be held to show ways in which collectors and companies can actively work as patrons of contemporary art and the benefits that this provides: both as an investment and in creating strong brand identity. With its rich cultural heritage and diverse arts community, Cairo is the ideal location to launch Art Dubai’s Collectors’ Circle,” Martin added.
In addition to the inaugural Art Dubai Collectors’ Circle conference taking place during the fair, there will be several other dedicated Collectors’ Circle events from 17-22 March, including private brunches with prominent collectors, a consultancy service to privately tour the fair with independent art advisors, and exclusive viewings of the fair and its outlying events.
While in Egypt, Art Dubai garnered support for the Collectors’ Circle from Cairo-based Townhouse Gallery, which participated in the 2007 fair and has confirmed its presence for Art
Dubai 2008. In addition to increasing its profile as one of the Middle East’s leading independent spaces for contemporary art during the fair, Townhouse Gallery directors also believe that Art Dubai’s Collectors’ Circle will increase awareness about the non-profit arts activities being created throughout the region.
“Through our work with Egyptian artists such as Tarek Zaki – set to exhibit at Art Dubai 2008 -- and the range of non-profit workshops that we host at the Townhouse Gallery, supporting the creation of the Art Dubai Collectors’ Circle will enable Townhouse to widen regional and international understanding about the dynamism and growth in the Middle East’s contemporary arts community. Whether it is private collectors wanting to play a more strategic role in helping art develop in the region or non-profit initiatives that enable a broader range of people to participate in the arts scene in Egypt and elsewhere, we are delighted to work with Art Dubai in helping to further enhance art appreciation and development in the Middle East and abroad,” said William Wells, director of the Townhouse Gallery, Cairo.
Art Dubai’s John Martin further emphasized the role that Egyptian galleries and artists played in the success of the Gulf Art Fair 2007, now Art Dubai, including a massive kaleidoscope art installation by Cairo-based artist Lara Baladi at the DIFC. In keeping with Art Dubai’s mission to support not-for-profit art initiatives in the region, the fair is partnering with non-profit publishers Bidoun to create the Art Park, which will feature experimental video and site-specific work from across the Middle East. Meanwhile the Global Art Forum gathers some of the most influential art-world figures for three days of discussion and presentations.
Following the press launch and private engagements in Cairo, Martin will drum up further support for Art Dubai’s Collectors’ Circle at events in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, as well as internationally. The second edition of Art Dubai brings more than 70 galleries from 30 countries for a contemporary art fair that sets out to be as diverse as it is original.