The Abu Dhabi Art fair is being organized since 2009, as a cooperation effort between the TDIC, the Tourism Development and Investment Company, and ADACH, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage.
Like its bigger sister Art Dubai, it aims at being an art fair and a platform for modern and contemporary art and public programs, and for this it brings together art galleries from the region and elsewhere.
According to the organizers, the 2011 edition attracted 17,000 visitors and hosted 50 galleries and 500 artists on show. In addition, there were art talks, debates and education workshops, a format similar to that presented by Art Dubai. In the 2012 edition, again a wide array of galleries participated, such as Agial (Beirut), Art Sawa (Dubai), Atassi (Damascus), Athr (Jeddah), Bait Muzna (Muscat), Gagosian (New York), Janine Rubeiz (Beirut), Hunar (Dubai), Lam Art (Riyadh), Leila Heller (New York), Sfeir-Semler (Beirut and Hamburg) and The Third Line (Dubai), to name but a few that have relevance in the Middle-East, as well as numerous others. As has become practice in many art fairs that are active in emerging markets, Abu Dhabi Art has galleries that show museum-quality pieces, while there are facilities dedicated to showing works by emerging artists. However, Abu Dhabi Art is still exploring its potential and seeking its own place in the arts arena, compared to the Dubai Art Fair.
As part of the runner-up to Abu Dhabi Art, in order to engage the local public, there is an ‘Art for All’ series of events, including an audience award for art works by emerging artists and a collaborative mural designed by the public and the ‘Caligraffiti’ artist Karim Jad during an Art for All Community Week. These events take place under the direction of the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
After initial editions in the Emirates Palace, from 2011 Abu Dhabi Art is being held in the Saadiyat Cultural District, in the Manarat Al Saadiyat and the UAE Pavilion next to it.