Dubai has mixed-use creative spaces aplenty these days, with non-profit foundations and art spaces offering ever more artist residencies to those looking to concentrate on their craft. Abu Dhabi's mega-museums may be in the pipeline, but the capital still has to catch up when it comes to community building for the city's home-grown artistic talent.
Abu Dhabi Art Hub (ADAH), which opened last week, may go some way to addressing that. "The government of Abu Dhabi is going forward with big, art-related projects," says Ahmed Saleh Al Yafei, the founder of ADAH. "In coming years, this will put Abu Dhabi on the map in the art world - so it's a new era that will require secondary support of art and artists."
From that premise, Al Yafei has turned an angular building in the industrial Musaffah quarter into Abu Dhabi's first live-work space for artists. It houses a robust residency programme, studio spaces and room for 16 art-related companies to occupy. There's adjoining apartments, a coffee shop and an art supplies store on the way and Al Yafei even refers to an internal business centre for helping artists deal with managing their income.
"When artists live and work together, they are both completing each other and working in a competitive way, pushing to make something better and different," says Al Yafei, who comes from a real estate background but says he is an art collector.
Creating a living community like this in Musaffah is a laudable but ambitious task. "It's a 24-hour space," says Al Yafei. "But we're not trying to do everything ourselves. It's a hub and needs artworks and artists - we will try not to enforce or put any limitations on the exhibitions we show, except for our culture and religion of course. We will show everything from street art to traditional art. The artists are the masters of themselves during their exhibitions and this is a platform for them."
ADAH has launched with four resident artists, including the Saudi artist Nouf Al Semari and the Uzbek painter of traditional scenes from around the region, Alim Adilov.
Al Yafei notes that funding for the space will come from a combination of sharing profits from sales in exhibitions and workshops that take place in the space. "We try to be smooth and reasonable so that we can make the artist feel that they only need creativity to work."
• Abu Dhabi Art Hub is in Musaffah, off Street 7. Next month will see a focus on Japanese arts and culture. There are opportunities to exhibit and to take part in forthcoming residencies. Visit www.adah.ae.
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