Prominent Iranian art collector Ramin Salsali is planning to erect a modern art gallery in the heart of Dubai’s commercial centre. The Dubai Museum of Contemporary Art (DMOCA) will be located in the Burj Khalifa district in downtown Dubai and Salsali has announced that he will donate some of his own collection in order to establish the new gallery.
In 2011, Salsali launched the largest private art collection in the Middle East in Dubai. Now he has announced that he plans to make new investments to turn the city into a unique hub for artists and art collectors.
The first phase of the museum will begin next year with the construction of 30,000 square feet of temporary exhibition space, and works on loan from private collections will be put on display. Salsali is trying to attract investors from the private sector rather than enlist the support of the UAE government.
In addition to exhibition halls and storage facilities for artwork, the Dubai Museum of Contemporary Art will include a Great Library as well as a Sculpture Garden.
The building itself will have a distinctive façade consisting of illuminated cubes connected by spatial structures, and the young Iraqi designer Alia Dawood will oversee the construction design. Born in Baghdad, Dawood pursued art studies in London and is currently based in Dubai.
Dubai has become an important centre for art exhibitions and dealerships. Prominent auction houses such as Christie’s hold big sales in this city. The city has especially become a hub of the contemporary art scene in the Middle East, and Iranian artists have contributed significantly to this scene. Dubai’s numerous art exhibitions are frequented by major art dealers, and this has transformed the city into a vibrant centre for visual arts.
Born in Tehran in 1964, Ramin Salsali began collecting art at the age of 21. He pursued studies in economics and strategic business management in Germany and later began collecting works by Iranian and Middle Eastern contemporary artists.
His private collection now consists of more than 600 pieces, including works from artists such as Shirin Neshat, Farideh Lashai, Reza Bangiz, Louise Bourgeois, Mona Hatom, Youssef Nabil and Niki de Saint Phalle.
The art collection includes a wide range of media such as painting, sculpture, calligraphy, video art and installations.
In 2011, Salsali opened his private collection to the public in the Salsali Private Museum building and he has been highly regarded for his contribution to Dubai’s art and culture community. Now he is setting his goals much higher, looking at launching Dubai’s first contemporary art museum.
While artists and art aficionados face widespread restrictions inside Iran, such investments may provide a launching pad for Iranian contemporary artists. In Salsali’s own words, his museum can become a temple for lovers of Iranian and Middle Eastern art.
[translated from the original in Persian]