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Dubai gets in touch with its arty side

By Emanuele Comi for CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Art Dubai is a magnet for artists, curators and buyers from all over the region
  • The art fair had some 70 participating galleries from 30 different countries
  • Painter and filmmaker M. F. Husain, called the "Picasso of India" exhibited

(CNN) -- Dubai is known for its skyscrapers, tax-free policies and extravagant shopping malls that attract tourists and expats from all over the world. Recently, however, the sunny sheikhdom has become a magnet for another kind of visitor: artists.

Established and emerging talent, curators, art critics and buyers from all over the region flocked to the emirate to attend contemporary art fair Art Dubai 2010.

Now in its fourth year, the four-day creative expo showed some 70 participating galleries from 30 countries displaying the works of such artists as Indian M. F. Husain, now resident in Qatar, and Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi.

One of the highlights of the fair, the Global Art Forum brought together artists and art experts to explore the key political and social conditions surrounding the growth of contemporary art in the Middle East.

Veterans of the Iranian creative scene Tony Shafrazi, Fereydoun Ave and Kamran Diba drew particular interest as they evaluated their impact on contemporary Iranian art; while a look into the Palestinian art scene offered an alternative lens through which to view the troubled area.

At the exotic Madinat Jumeirah resort, a diverse array of art from multimedia installations to abstract canvasses was on display.

Many works were of a political nature, according to Middle East art magazine Canvas, like Syrian Youssef Abdelke's work, which deals with oppression and social struggle. It was a theme that also ran through the work of artists from Lebanon and Iran.