Art Dubai Fellowship is a programme for exceptional curators and writers working in the Arab world and beyond, coming together for a week-long series of intensive workshops during Art Dubai.

Twenty-six fellows have participated since 2011; together, they form a dynamic alumni group, with several continuing to collaborate and support each other, beyond their experiences on the programme.

The 2016 programme focused on writing and curating and was led by writer and curator Tirdad Zolghadr. For 2016, Art Dubai invited the artist/writer/musician Hassan Khan to develop a programme focusing on art criticism in Arabic.

Hassan Khan writes: One of the biggest challenges that has faced art scenes throughout the region over the past two decades has been the lack of strong, exciting, relevant, rigorous, critical writing about visual art in Arabic. So what can be done about that? 

The 2016 forum aimed to open this Pandora’s Box: Why is this lack so strong? Is it, as some claim, endemic to the Arabic language itself? Or have the right questions not been asked yet? The workshop included three four-hour sessions, designed to look at existing material, discuss the broader issues, read selected texts and grapple intensely with these questions. Representative samples of art criticism from three different generations of writers were used as a starting point to help identify some of the problems and blind spots as well as the successes of the field. Invited fellows were encouraged to think about their position vis-a-vis the work; to consider issues of voice, tone, analysis and intention. They compared notes, experiences and ambitions and discussed possible future solutions.

The 2016 Fellowship workshops were more akin to a forum, aimed at bilingual writers and professionals who uphold the ability (and the desire) to write publishable content in Arabic.

Following a nomination and jury process, the Fellows selected for the 2016 programme were:

Ismail Fayed

Nour El Safoury

Toleen Touq

Ahmad Zatari

Ahmed Naji