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The United Arab Emirates bought $408,000 worth of art by local artists to support its creative community.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, visits the 2019 edition of Art Dubai. Photo courtesy Art Dubai.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Dubai, visits the 2019 edition of Art Dubai. Photo courtesy Art Dubai.

Over the past two weeks, the United Arab Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy has spent more than AED 1.5million ($408,314) acquiring works of art by both established and emerging Emirati artists. This gesture of solidarity with the nation’s artists comes after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the disruption and cancellation of major local art events, including the postponement of Art Dubai.

Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh told The National:

With the cancellation of the many art events that were scheduled to take place this season, we wanted to send a message of solidarity to our artists. [...] It is a message that demonstrates our deep appreciation and support for the local arts, and acknowledging that they are a critical part of the national identity.

The next stage of the initiative will be dedicated to obtaining works of art by longtime UAE residents.“We want to lend our support to everyone who is part of the country’s rich artistic ecosystem,” continued Nusseibeh.

After being displayed in an online exhibition at Alserkal Avenue (Dubai’s arts and culture district, which launched its new online platform Tuesday), the acquired works will be placed in various UAE embassies around the world. The initiative, unofficially titled “Artists in Embassies,” was organized under the guidance of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

With artworks for 10 embassies currently secured, the program will continue until nearly every UAE embassy displays work by a local Emirati artist. The initiative comes as cultural communities around the world quickly adapt to the precipitous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.