Underground Art: Dubai’s Industrial Area Of Al Quoz

I was asked to write about Dubai’s emerging arts and design scene for the cARTel Magazine. Set in a warehouse deep in Alserkal Avenue, The cARTel is a design space that teeters adeptly between fashion and art, and they are known for introducing local and regional designers (like Maria Iqbal, Bint Thani, and Reemami) to a wider, curious audience. Read on as I introduce Al Quoz, nearly get lost in a dark alley, drink too much coffee, and visit some of my favorite galleries and concept spaces…

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8pm in Al Quoz. Not a star in the sky. The night is a foggy blue, a shade deep enough for the French artist Yves Klein to have dipped his paintbrush in before whisking it thickly against the stretched linen canvas. The nearest bright light shines from a Pakistani cafeteria, an after work meeting place for the city’s workers, some of whom live in the immense labor camps just a few kilometers away.

I pull into Alserkal Avenue slowly, turn right down an alleyway, the car’s wheels knocking along on uneven asphalt. The surrounding warehouses appear locked and deserted. Shadows of dumpsters, old 4x4s, and steel piping look menacing here at night, like a set from an action film. I’m all but expecting a masked martial artist to somersault out in front of the car and ambush me here. I ignore my overactive imagination and step gingerly into the alleyway. It took me months of getting disoriented among the labyrinth of streets and circles in the surrounding industrial area of Al Quoz until I could smoothly navigate my way here.

You can read the rest of the article below:

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Here is more information about the galleries, concept spaces, and cafes I mentioned in the post:

The cARTel magazine can be picked up at the cARTel, Virgin Megastores, and at various arts and design spaces around Dubai

The cARTel magazine can be picked up at the cARTel, Virgin Megastores, and at various arts and design spaces around Dubai

The cARTel
Tip: Check out Bint Thani’s latest collection, inspired by Cubism and Dubai architecture

Alserkal Avenue
Tip: Bring a friend and go for a coffee at the A4 Space, before gallery hopping in the remarkable complex

Ayyam Gallery
Tip: Check out the Young Collector’s Auctions for original, reasonably affordable art from the Middle East

Carbon 12
Tip: Ask to see the smaller works in the back office, where you can view a wall of gems by established artists

The Zoo Skatepark
Tip: Bring your helmet and your courage

Tom & Serg
Tip: Order the daily cordial, bring a notebook, and sketch or write a poem upstairs while eavesdropping on other people’s conversations

Photo Credits: Courtesy of the cARTel and Desert Fish