Art in Abu Dhabi

Updated: Sep 1, 2019

Bubbling just below the surface of Abu Dhabi’s gleaming skyscrapers is a grassroots art scene known to few. Yalla picks the best spots to experience art in public places, in galleries, art exhibitions, in stores and even in coffee shops.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

A decade in the making, the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened in 2017 to critical acclaim. The building itself is a work of art. Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel’s geometric domed roof is spectacular, and its design allows a ‘rain of light’ to shower through. The inside also doesn’t disappoint with its expansive exhibition space, 12 galleries and a detached stage located in the sea. Each room flows clearly to the next – evidence of the journey through time and the museum itself being meticulously planned. Its new Art Lounge offers a lovely space to socialise while enjoying the beautiful view of Abu Dhabi’s skyline or take in a sunset over drinks and dinner. Families must visit the dedicated children’s museum and try the hands-on family workshops. Saadiyat Cultural District. Website:

Manarat Al Saadiyat

A stalwart on the Abu Dhabi art scene, Manarat Al Saadiyat was recently renovated adding new art and photography studios to provide drop-in spaces where the public can work on their own projects alongside a team of artists and photographers. Specialised workshops, performances, film screenings and music are all part of their ongoing programme. The new dedicated Drop-In Studio is a space for people of all ages to experiment with art. Basic supplies are provided, and Art Central has a store next door to purchase more advanced supplies. Saadiyat Cultural District. Website:

Warehouse 421

Warehouse 421

Housed in two repurposed warehouses in the bustling Mina Port, Warehouse 421 is a vibrant hub for creativity. Much of the work housed within focuses on the UAE or is made by Emirati artists and the artwork changes quarterly. Past exhibitions have included emerging Emirati talent, UAE contributions to the Venice Biennial, and a poignant window into Emirati family photographs from the late 20th century. They offer free workshops, so children and adults may explore their creativity and learn UAE handicrafts. Mina Port. Website:

Etihad Modern Art Gallery

Located in Al Bateen, art lovers have found in Etihad Modern Art Gallery an eclectic and modern independent gallery that is worth the journey. Exhibitions tend to focus on Middle Eastern talent, but international artists are also regularly displayed. After browsing the artwork, go for a bite to eat in the neighbouring and fittingly creative Art House Café run by the owners of the gallery. Quirky décor and striking artwork adorn the walls alongside colourful furnishings made out of repurposed items, such as oil barrel tables and stools, give the café an edgy feel. Exhibitions change monthly and are free to enter.

Adjacent to Al Bateen Mall, just off Al Falah/9th Street.

Etihad Antiques Gallery

Located next door to the Etihad Modern Art Gallery, Etihad Antiques Gallery is an amassment of intriguing relics from around the globe. Serious antiquity hunters can shop for rarities, while the inquisitive may while away the afternoon in this jumbled collection of trinkets, coin, swords and more. Near Al Bateen Mall. Telephone: +971 2 667 1229

Abu Dhabi Art Hub

With four galleries dotted throughout Abu Dhabi and one located in the Dubai Design District, The Abu Dhabi Art Hub promotes Abu Dhabi-inspired art created by artists from around the globe. The largest of the Hubs is in Musaffah, and the newest is in the World Trade Center Mall. The Art Hub in Liwa is on the edge of the Empty Quarter; there you can explore the desert’s edgy art scene. World Trade Center Mall, Level 1 (near food court). Telephone: +971 55 860 3579

Art Center at NYU Abu Dhabi

Enthusiasm for the art scene on Abu Dhabi’s newest university campus radiates off Saadiyat Island. The university art gallery’s eclectic exhibitions have featured renowned UAE artist Mohammed Kazem to international art luminaries. The university’s Performing Arts Center has a pulsating events calendar. Performances range from student productions and live music (including world premiere performances) to open-mic poetry, rap, EDM and spoken-word evenings put on by ‘Rooftop Rhythms’. Saadiyat Island. Website:

Learn UAE crafts

Al Ghadeer UAE Crafts is a UAE organization dedicated to empowering women through sustainable crafts, and they hold workshops in Abu Dhabi to share their crafts with visitors. Try your hand at traditional palm frond weaving, calligraphy, embroidery and pottery. If you’re not crafty, purchase their handmade wares online—they make fantastic small gifts or souvenirs.

Indulge Your Inner Picasso

If you are keen on creating your very own Abu Dhabi souvenir artwork, head straight to the Manarat Al Saadiyat and explore its new Art Studio. Drop in and make use of a wide range of available supplies and create to your heart’s delight or partake of one of the studio diverse range of visual arts workshops to receive a bit of guidance as you dip, stroke and paint your way to an inspired masterpiece.

+971 2 491 9760

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