Musement takes a look at the Al Quoz neighborhood in Dubai, the emirate’s art, culture, and design hub.
When you think of Dubai, the first word to come to mind is likely to be one of the following: luxurious, new, lavish, skyscrapers, contemporary, big, or glamorous. And rightfully so as the emirate is a veritable wonder, however, there is much more to the Gold City than meets the eye.
With its industrial bones, the Al Quoz neighborhood is Dubai’s design district, seemingly hidden in the shadow of the skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa. This creative cultural hub is a charmingly edgy yang to the yin of the emirate’s iconic polished facadem, and tour of Dubai is complete without your own makeshift stroll through this buzzing quarter. Here are six reasons to visit Dubai’s Al Quoz neighborhood.
1. Salsali Private Museum
Located on Alserkal Avenue, Salsali Private Museum (SPM) is Dubai’s first private museum dedicated to contemporary Middle Eastern and international art. The museum permanently displays 900 pieces from owner Ramin Salsali’s private collection alongside temporary exhibitions by artists from around the globe.
2. Alserkal Avenue in general
This gated compound is Dubai’s true contemporary art hub, arguably the most vibrant in the Middle East. Home to dozens of galleries (not to mention several more in the side streets), Alserkal Avenue is a culture vulture’s delight. Visit the decade-old Carbon 12, one of the emirate’s first contemporary art outposts; The Third Line, which focuses exclusively on contemporary Middle Eastern artists; Isabel Van den Eynde, known for its strong showing of Middle Eastern and North African talent; and Leila Heller, an outpost of a beloved New York gallery that juxtaposes Western artists with Middle Eastern, Central and Southeast Asian talent.
3. Lovely Eateries
When it to refueling, it should come as no surprise that art watchers in Al Quoz have plenty of eateries and cafes to choose from. They may opt to sip juice and nosh on healthy plant-based fare at Wild & the Moon or head to Appetite is a nifty community space to work, eat, read and hang out. Carnivores must try the burger at Tom & Serg, one of our local expert’s Dubai restaurant picks, and cocoa enthusiasts can observe the bean-to-bar process firsthand at Mirzam, a local artisan chocolate maker. Caffeine junkies won’t want to miss Raw Coffee Company for organic blends from Ethiopia, Peru, Mexico, Guatemala, Myanmar, and Nicaragua, or Night Jar, another exemplary roastery, and coffee shop.
4. Shopping and more
As such a highly esteemed art neighborhood, Al Quoz fittingly boasts quirky thoughtful shops selling objects that make for dandy gifts….or souvenirs. Boo-bury’s specializes in handcrafted furniture from the UK as well as awesome antiques and ceramics while Heritage Touch is known for its amazing handcrafted Arabic, Indian, and African goods such as vases, carpets, paintings, and more. Made by Native offers exquisitely handcrafted leather artisan goods, and sneaker lovers must check out Good Life Space. Cartel, with its 10 Corso Como vibes, is a concept store that highlights up-and-coming fashion designers, both international and local. Dion Lee from Australia, Belgium’s 42/54, and the UAE’s own Poserazzi are some of the brands to keep an eye out for. Also, Jam Jar is a must for incredible art lessons and classes. A handful of these shops are part of The Collective by Ripe, a brilliant amalgamation of clever concept shops hidden in a courtyard.
5. The performing arts venues
The Junction is famous for improv and stand-up comedy as well as theatrical and dance productions performed by local talent. And speaking of locals, they always take the stage for musical performances and concerts at The Fridge. For artsy cinema vibes, check out the timetable for the old-school Cinema Akil, which screens foreign films and popular selections from the film festival circuit.
6. Festivals and Events
The neighborhood is home to some incredible festivals like the Quoz Arts Festival happening 25 and 26 January. The quarter is abuzz during Dubai Art Week, taking place 14 to 24 March and Dubai Art Fair, 20 to 23 March, which will bring together 90 art galleries from 40 different countries. The majority of festivities for Dubai Design Week, the Middle East’s largest creative festival, happen here. The 2019 edition is happening 12 – 19 November. If you’re in town for any of them this year, be sure to partake in an activity or two.