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Encounters: Curator Alia Zaal Lootah on Emirati Artist Connections Across The Ages

Aimee Dawson
23 February 2024

Despite its mega-city infrastructure, at the core of Dubai is a village vibe — it is a relatively compact geography where many people know one another or are linked in some way. “Dubai has always been connected to its people and its makers,” says the artist and curator Alia Zaal Lootah. “The early relationship between the rulers and the tradesmen through the ports of Dubai has grown organically over time and created this connection between the people and the government.” This relationship is at the core of the Dubai Collection, a unique initiative that sees local collectors loan their art to create the city’s first institutional collection of modern and contemporary art. “The Dubai Collection creates a collaboration between the state, the collectors, the artists and the public,” Lootah adds. “It’s a beautiful initiative.”