top of page

Art Dubai 2024: A conversation with Executive Director Benedetta Ghione

Art Dubai, the leading international art fair in the Middle East, marked its 17th edition from March 1st to 3rd, 2024, in Dubai, UAE, under the visionary leadership of Executive Director Benedetta Ghione. With over 15 years of experience in the art business, including prominent positions at renowned auction houses, Ghione has been at the helm of Art Dubai since 2015, guiding its evolution into a pivotal platform for art from the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia (MENASA), and beyond. In our exclusive interview with Ghione during Art Dubai 2024, Ghione shared insights into her journey to Art Dubai, the fair's unique approach to blending commercial and non-commercial art, and her vision of Art Dubai for the future.


Benedetta Ghione
Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director, Art Dubai

Please share your journey to assume the role of director at Art Dubai.

Having been raised in a family that deeply appreciates culture, I was fortunate enough to immerse myself in art and cultural experiences from an early age, which helped me grasp the significance of culture profoundly. My educational background in art history, coupled with extensive professional experiences across various auction houses and art galleries, primarily in London, laid a solid foundation for my career. The turning point came when an opportunity to join Art Dubai presented itself. I perceived it as a pivotal moment for both the city's burgeoning art scene and the nation's cultural development, where I could significantly contribute to elevating the cultural ecosystem.


Joining the Art Dubai Group, I discovered an environment ripe with potential, allowing us, as a team, to innovate and craft impactful cultural initiatives. It has indeed been an enriching and fulfilling journey.


Can you share the uniqueness of Art Dubai?

Art Dubai stands distinct in its approach as an independent art fair, fulfilling an almost institutional role. At its core lies a robust commercial platform, the heart of which is the art fair itself. Surrounding this commercial core, we've woven an array of non-commercial programs. Initially conceived to bolster the growth of the cultural landscape, these initiatives aimed to forge opportunities for artists and curators to engage with an international platform like ours in Dubai.


As the cultural scene here has evolved, so too have our offerings. What began as programming centered around the days of the fair has expanded into a comprehensive, year-round suite of activities and events.


For those who have joined us from the start of the week, the Dubai Public Art Initiative and the unveiling of its inaugural landmark commission would have been highlights, alongside the Dubai Collection exhibition visible at the fair.


These initiatives exemplify how we operate differently, offering a year-round commitment to the arts, distinguishing us from traditional art fair models.


How can visitors truly immerse themselves in the local culture at Art Dubai?

The unparalleled physical experience of attending Art Dubai is irreplaceable. We are believers in the unique magic that arises from gathering diverse individuals in one place, providing them with compelling content to engage with and reflect upon.


Therefore, my strongest recommendation is to make the journey to the fair in person. However, for those unable to attend, we have made efforts to extend our reach through digital means. Our extensive digital archive, including all of our talks and over 17 years of pioneering discussions and presentations, is accessible online.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum visits the 17th edition of Art Dubai, 2024. Photo credit_ Spark Media

What makes this year's fair different from past editions?

Every year, we aim to bring something new to the Fair. This starts with our gallery selection in the exhibition halls. We always have a long waitlist but manage to keep a good balance between new galleries and those that return each year.


We're committed to introducing new finds, fresh energy, and interesting content that resonates with our audience, especially as Dubai's population evolves. Also, our side programs are updated every year. This year, we have a commission curated by Emiliano Valdés in partnership with the Bawwaba section. It focuses on healing, featuring ten solo presentations by artists exploring how art can aid in healing.


The commission uses various activities to echo this theme, offering surprises for our visitors. Another new feature is the massage stations and the third year of Art Dubai Digital, which reflects the fast pace of technological evolution, making the content quite dynamic. This year, we find the blend of digital and physical particularly fascinating. For instance, artworks created by robots based on AI algorithms designed by artists.


We're proud to be at the heart of the region's growing art ecosystem, with Dubai as a central hub for new initiatives. Our goal is to remain a key event in the art calendar, serving as a meeting point and essential destination for the entire ecosystem. Importantly, we want to be the go-to place for curators, museum directors, press, thinkers, writers, and collectors worldwide looking for new discoveries. This role as a gateway to new art is what we believe is our strength, and we aim to keep focusing on that.


Has your vision for Art Dubai changed over these years?

I've been part of Art Dubai for eight years now. I see it as an evolving canvas. Our team's approach has always been to closely observe the context we're operating within and then address it accordingly. This year, what's truly resonated with me is the blossoming of local arts.


We've seen a significant increase in the visibility of local talent, showcased by a growing number of Dubai-based galleries. Additionally, the Dubai Public Art Initiative has spotlighted five remarkable artists in its commissions, including an Emirati artist as part of the BMW commission. This year, somewhat unintentionally, the spotlight on local talent has emerged as a key theme. The Sculpture Park, featuring the outstanding work of Emirati artist Shaikha Al Mazrou, is another highlight.


Witnessing these various strands come together, all supporting the notion of nurturing local talent—a concept we have passionately championed through education, commissioning, and thought leadership—is incredibly fulfilling.


It's easy to overthink or categorize people based on their geographical location or cultural access. Our goal has always been to offer our audiences the finest quality possible, coupled with a level of accessibility that speaks to everyone. This commitment is evident, for example, in the A.R.M. Holdings Children's Programme, which annually reaches over 100 schools and introduces art to more than 15,000 children.


We're considerate of the entire family demographic. Whether you're a collector with a refined taste in culture, looking for an art fair of the highest caliber, or a young family experiencing your first art exhibition, possibly without prior exposure to museums, we aim for this experience to be thoroughly enjoyable and accessible, meeting you exactly where you are.

Art Dubai 2024. Installation view.  Credit_ Cedric Ribero
Art Dubai 2024. Installation view. Credit_ Cedric Ribero

Art Dubai 2024. Installation view.  Credit_ Cedric Ribero
Art Dubai 2024. Installation view. Credit_ Cedric Ribero

Art Dubai 2024. Installation view.  Credit_ Cedric Ribero
Art Dubai 2024. Installation view. Credit_ Cedric Ribero


bottom of page