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Sotheby’s to hold first sale in Dubai

Christie’s moves October auction to London as rival plans first sale in the UAE

Anna Brady

Works offered in Dubai: Boundless, Sotheby's first sale in the Gulf city Sotheby's

Following Christie’s decision to hold its first Modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art sale in London this month after dropping its autumn series in Dubai, its rival Sotheby’s has announced that it will hold its first sale in the Gulf city.

Sotheby’s already sells Modern and contemporary Middle Eastern art in London, but although it held sales in Doha between 2009 and 2013, this is the first in Dubai. The evening sale, Dubai: Boundless, is due to take place at the Sotheby’s gallery, opened in March, on 13 November, “to coincide with Abu Dhabi Art and the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi”, says Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s deputy director of contemporary and Modern Arab and Iranian art. Edward Gibbs, Sotheby’s chairman and head of department, Middle East and India, said this “commitment is based on an increase of 76% in the number of participants from the Middle East in our global sales, particularly from the UAE, where participation grew by 39% from 2015 to 2016”.

Sheikha Manal will be patron of the sale, which includes around 80 to 90 works by Middle Eastern and international artists inspired by the region, and ranges from manuscripts and Mughal miniatures to design pieces by François-Xavier Lalanne and contemporary works by Idris Khan and Ali Banisadr.

In London, Christie’s evening sale on 25 October takes place during its rebranded Middle Eastern Art Week, commonly known as Islamic Art Week. Moving the sale to London is part of a strategy to “internationalise the market further for Middle Eastern art”, says Michael Jeha, Christie’s managing director and deputy chairman, Middle East. “We now sell around 30% of our Dubai sales to international buyers,” he says. The auction house’s March sales of Modern art, watches and luxury goods will continue in Dubai, and despite the reduction in sales from biannual to annual, its Dubai office, which opened in 2006, has not faced staff cuts, Jeha says.