Cultural exchange: Dubai Next

The UAE is increasingly recognised for its rich cultural and artistic offerings and 'Dubai Next', a recent three-day event in Paris has helped promote international dialogue between artists. Vision finds out more 

As mini-breaks to Paris go, it had just about everything. The idea behind Dubai Next - a three day cultural event in the French capital held last week - was to showcase the emirate’s artistic and cultural development, while reminding people of its position as a global hub for collaboration and creativity. With the exhibition featuring photographs of Dubai from a Paris-based, Czech photographer, audiovisual work from a Brazilian commissioned by Dubai-based art fair SIKKA, and a short film from an Emirati film-maker starring Moroccan/French actors, it certainly achieved those aims.

There was another equally important intention, too. Dubai Culture & Arts Authority brought Dubai Next to Paris to support UAE’s bid to hold the World Expo in 2020, the diverse content of the exhibition a confirmation of its growing status as a thriving place to live, work and have fun. One of the Emirate’s major selling points is the 200 different nationalities who call Dubai home: a World Expo in Dubai is therefore a unique cultural proposition, and a real chance to celebrate multiculturalism.

All of which was more than evident in Paris. Even the location was telling - Dubai Next took place at the Institute Du Monde Arabe, within renowned architect Zaha Hadid’s Le Mobile Art Pavilion. The Iraq-born Hadid, of course, has herself created many spectacular designs for buildings to be constructed in Dubai. In many ways, then, Dubai Next was also a demonstration of the partnership between the two countries - France having already backed the UAE bid for World Expo 2020.

The subtext to the bid is “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, an idea which was clearly apparent throughout the three days of Dubai Next. Through the combination of artworks, films and talks from Emirati, UAE-based and international artists, there was a real sense of international dialogue and cultural exchange. Even the theme of Dubai Next, Faces Of Tomorrow, dovetailed nicely with that of Dubai Expo 2020, largely focusing on depicting stories of human connections in the city.

And with the attendance of some of the UAE’s leading cultural figures, the programme also provided some interesting insights into the thriving art industry within the region, too. An industry which, if Dubai Next is anything to go by, should be one of the most fascinating on the planet by the time of the World Expo in 2020.