The Aga Khan Museum’s relationship with the UAE’s Barjeel Art Foundation resulted in an exhibition of the Foundation’s art at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, the first Arab contemporary art exhibition ever to be shown in North America. Showcasing the work of 12 Arab artists who explore themes of identity and belonging through varied media, the exhibition was curated by Suheyla Takesh of the Barjeel Art Foundation. Sharjah’s Maraya Art Centre subsequently hosted the exhibition.
Objects from the Aga Khan Museum have also been displayed in Dubai, and the Director of the Aga Khan Museum has attended a number of Art Dubai events. For the ninth annual Art Dubai, the Aga Khan Museum hosted a Terrace Talk with Pakistani artists Aisha Khalid and Imran Qureshi, whose works now form part of the Aga Khan Museum’s permanent collection.
The Aga Khan Museum later launched “Friends of the Aga Khan Museum in the Gulf and South Asia”, a chapter that promotes dialogue on the impact of Islamic civilisations on global heritage through artistic, intellectual and scientific pursuits.
In 2019, the Aga Khan Museum invited the Global Patron’s Circle to several events as part of Dubai Art Week, including a chat with Aga Khan Museum Director and CEO, Henry Kim, and a performance by Zia Mohyeddin and tours of the Ismaili Centre Dubai.
Working with Ministries of the United Arab Emirates and local and international civil society organisations, AKDN has coordinated numerous engagements at Expo 2020 Dubai, particularly in the areas of climate change and biodiversity, tolerance and inclusivity, culture, education, knowledge and learning.
In addition, the various units of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) regularly hold seminars and other events in the UAE on topics such as architecture and historic city preservation. AKTC has also collaborated with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism to support the launch of the Al Burda Festival, a biennial initiative that was launched in 2018 to allow scholars and artists to engage in intellectual discourse on Islamic art and culture.
AKDN has also engaged with audiences in the Middle East, given the region’s rich Islamic culture and heritage. The Aga Khan Award for Architecture’s 2010 ceremony was held in Doha, Qatar at the Museum of Islamic Art, followed by another ceremony in 2016 held at the Al Jahili Fort, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. In the presence of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness the Aga Khan, the occasion served as an opportunity to celebrate the spirit of pluralism, a central belief in the great Islamic cultures of the past.