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Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, the curator of the United Arab Emirates National Pavilion at the forthcoming Venice Biennale, has announced her selection of 14 artists for this year’s event. There is some crossover with those participating in the upcoming Sharjah Biennial (5 March – 5 June), which she also oversees, with Hassan Sharif, Mohammed Kazem and Abdullah Al Saadi exhibiting at both biennials.
Other artists at the UAE’s Venice pavilion will be: Ahmed Al Ansari, Moosa Al Halyan, Mohammed Al Qassab, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Mohammed Abdullah Bulhiah, Salem Jawhar, Dr. Najat Meky, Abdulraheem Salim, Obaid Suroor, Dr. Mohamed Yousif, and Abdulrahman Zainal.
According to a statement, the UAE’s Venice pavilion is inspired by Al Qasimi’s interest in the “underexposed historical record” of work by Emerati artists from the 1980s and 1990s, specifically those affiliated with the Emirates Fine Art Society. The society has played an incubating role for art in the region since it was formed in 1980, long before the area’s current art boom, which is widely seen from the outside as starting in 2005, when major auction houses and art fairs first took root in the region.
The 50 international artists in Sharjah’s biennial were announced in November. UAE’s Venice pavilion first opened in 2009, but this is the first time an Emirati has served as curator.