In the past 30 years, the art scene in the UAE has become an important stop for both tourists and artists alike. UAE now attracts art enthusiasts and experts from around the world who bring their passion for art and their willingness to purchase. Recent cultural developments designed to attract art and culture-loving tourists align with the UAE’s long-term plans to provide economic diversification and new job and investment opportunities.

In November 2017, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the public. This spectacular new destination is an important component of the partnership formed between the emirates and France to expand the reach and influence of art within the UAE. The Louvre is one of many upcoming installations that will be part of Saadiyat Island and the Cultural District, further establishing Abu Dhabi and the UAE as an international center for art and culture.

The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority is committed to partnering with the Louvre and other art institutions and sites to provide cultural programming to tourists coming to Abu Dhabi. It’s clear that Abu Dhabi recognizes the importance of developing a sustainable cultural arts destination that will continue to generate tourism revenue for years to come.

The opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi is already having a positive impact on tourism in the region and has attracted 4.9 million visitors before the end of 2017. In particular, it will benefit from the new incentives to attract Chinese visitors to the UAE, as these guests love culture and a visit to the Louvre here will be a must-see for many.

The exhibits in the Louvre Abu Dhabi highlight the multicultural aspects of Abu Dhabi and showcase an openness to the area’s varied cultures. It is already receiving recognition for showcasing the harmony between different cultures while also celebrating their uniqueness.

The combination of contemporary art and historical works reflect Abu Dhabi’s deeply historical roots alongside a rapidly advancing contemporary art scene. Pieces will continue to be added to the permanent collection that are carefully curated to honor ethical and cultural sensitivities while unabashedly working to become established as an internationally recognized first-class collection. The children’s museum portion has been well-designed to capture the youngest art lovers visiting the city. It has an ideal mix of education and fun, and pairs well with Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a family friendly city. Although only recently opened, Louvre Abu Dhabi is already receiving high ratings from tourists. From the architecture to the exhibits it is becoming a top destination for visitors. The Louvre Abu Dhabi is clearly a place where East and West share an open and appreciative dialogue that will appeal to both residents and tourists for a long time to come.


Art-loving tourists are also including Dubai as a top destination. Dubai has made a concerted effort to become known as a thriving contemporary art center. Art Dubai is Dubai’s largest art festival, and the line-up for 2018 will attract art lovers from around the world. Almost 50 countries will be represented in 103 galleries, and this festival is part of the official art month of March. Another major art event that attracts visitors is Art Week. Run the week before Art Dubai, this event will again showcase Dubai’s diverse and exciting arts scene. Art Dubai 2016 generated $35 million USD in just seven days. In 2017 Art Dubai attracted over 28,000 visitors who came to Dubai specifically to participate in Art Dubai. With the growing line-up for 2018, this event is set to make a strong impact on tourism revenue. The permanent Alserkal Avenue Arts District in Dubai is quickly becoming a highlight for many tourists to the area. While it is not yet widely advertised as a hotspot, those who visit can’t say enough good things about the variety of art, the friendly and welcoming gallery owners, and the excellent eating spots throughout the district. For those looking for an authentic art experience, this district is exceeding expectations.


In a few short years, tourism is expected to contribute 20 percent of the GDP in the emirates. The continued focus on the development of arts and cultural attractions highlight the beneficial impact that this market offers to the economy. Tourists that choose destinations based on arts and culture make significant economic contributions to the places they visit. The growing arts scene in the emirates is attracting such tourists. Tourists will travel to a region specifically to attend art events and exhibitions. These destinations provide a varied schedule of activities and points of interest that will captivate the attention—and resources—of tourists arriving in the emirates for other reasons. In fact, all the leading emirates are prioritizing arts and culture in a bid to boost tourism. While other revenues are waning, tourism in the UAE is still strong. The ongoing investment in art for the express purpose of generating tourism revenue is a sign that art and tourism are now strongly intertwined throughout the emirates. Tourists are increasingly looking for meaningful connections with the places they visit. The arts community throughout the emirates is uniquely poised to meet this need. Local artists, contemporary galleries, and rotating exhibitions all provide tourists with connections to art and opportunities to exchange money for a piece of art and its accompanying story that will encourage repeat visits and further purchases. It’s possible that arts and culture will become one of the biggest markets in the emirates. From exclusive galleries to local artists in communal markets, the enhanced tourist experience is bound to be shared on social media and added to many more people’s choice destinations. The UAE is well on its way to becoming a world-renowned destination to discover and acquire art. Although the Louvre Abu Dhabi and Art Dubai may be the most widely known at this time, the opportunities that the arts community present across the kingdom will collectively attract tourists and the accompanying revenue for a long time to come.