Maie El-Hage curator

About Curating in Dubai

I have been working as a curator in Dubai since 2023, and in Beirut since 2019. The field presents many challenges. In this article, I share 5 things I learned about curating, in general and specifically in Dubai.

The UAE has been a cultural hub for the Middle East for quite some time now. Galleries, museums and art foundations have proliferated over the last two decades. I remember visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum at its opening; more recently, the Museum of the Future has opened its doors to the public. Venues for art galleries like Al Serkal Avenue, and more recently, Al Khayat Avenue, are cultural destinations of international merit. Curating in Dubai has been a lifelong dream of mine, and I was able to realize this in 2023.

I started out in journalism, publishing my first article in Harper’s Bazaar Arabia Art in 2018, covering the Ayyam Gallery art show by Syrian artist Thaier Helal. This was followed by two more articles with Harper’s Bazaar before becoming a regular contributor for Arte & Lusso Online magazine in 2020. With Arte & Lusso’s dedication to reporting on art globally, and the support of founder Slava Noor, I was able to cover art shows in Dubai, Beirut, İstanbul and New York in person, and in Paris in absentia. I am particularly proud of my coverage of the 17th İstanbul Biennial in 2022, and the Daniel Canogar new media art exhibition at Galloire Gallery in City Walk, Dubai in 2023. More recently, I have collaborated with Fiker Institute and Barjeel Art Foundation on a peer-reviewed article.

Daniel Canogar and Maie El-Hage at Galloire, Dubai

Daniel Canogar and Maie El-Hage viewing new media art at Galloire art gallery (photo courtesy of Galloire contemporary art gallery)

Maie at 17th Istanbul Biennial (2022)

Maie El-Hage covering the 17th İstanbul Biennial in 2022 (photo by the author)

Evolving my activities in Dubai into curating was a natural consequence. In Beirut, I have been active as a curator since 2019, collaborating with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura Beirut on three different projects, and exhibiting with galleries and Beit Beirut Museum on multiple occasions. I also produced videos about specific exhibitions in close collaboration with Beirut-based galleries, such as my coverage of Ziad Abillama’s show at Saleh Barakat Gallery, and Ghada Jamal’s exhibition at Art on 56th Gallery. Working with a venue like Beit Beirut Museum presented many challenges, but both the Antonello Ghezzi exhibition of 2022 and the Ralph Hage exhibition of 2023 garnered local & international acclaim. My experiences in Beirut have enriched my portfolio in art and curating.

Maie El Hage and Ralph Hage Beit Beirut Museum

Curator Maie El-Hage and artist Ralph Hage at his exhibition in Beit Beirut Museum (photo courtesy of Matteo Montaldo)

Chronicle of Three Wars exhibition

‘Chronicle of Three Wars’ exhibition at Beit Beirut Museum by Ralph Hage curated by Maie El-Hage (photo by the author, 2023)

Paolo Ghezzi, Maie El-Hage and Nadia Antonello

Curator Maie El-Hage with Italian artists Paolo Ghezzi and Nadia Antonello of Antonello Ghezzi, at Beit Beirut Museum (photo by the author)

The Milky Way House at Beit Beirut

‘The Milky Way House’ exhibition at Beit Beirut Museum (photo courtesy of Antonello Ghezzi, 2022)

In Dubai, I have been fortunate enough to form great collaborations in art curation. Urbanist Art Gallery in Boxpark (AlWasl Road) is a sophisticated, contemporary art gallery that is active in the art scene in Dubai; they are also supportive of both emerging and established regional and international artists. Working with Urbanist and the team there has been a very positive and rewarding experience for me as an independent curator. I collaborated with them on their second group show in summer 2023, curating a selection of artworks by Lebanese artist Louma Rabah. That collaboration was followed by my curation of the debut solo show of Lebanese-German artist Mazen Khaddaj at Urbanist Art Gallery in September 2023, which was attended by Her Excellency the German Consul Mrs Sybille Pfaff. Mazen’s collection ‘New Self Found’ brings together two eras in the artist’s life and career. I look forward to more collaborations with Urbanist Art Gallery.

Urbanist Art Gallery collective show

Urbanist Art Gallery collective show summer 2023 (photo courtesy of Urbanist Art Gallery)

Urbanist Art Gallery 2

The opening of Urbanist Art Gallery’s collective show summer 2023 (photo courtesy of Urbanist Art Gallery)

Urbanist art gallery exterior

Louma Rabah painting at Urbanist Art Gallery (photo courtesy of Urbanist Art Gallery)

Mazen Khaddaj at Urbanist Art

Mazen Khaddaj at his exhibition ‘New Self Found’ 2023 at Urbanist Art Gallery (photo courtesy of Ahmad Ardity)

Mazen Khaddaj performs

Mazen Khaddaj performs at ‘New Self Found’ 2023 at Urbanist Art Gallery (photo courtesy of the gallery)

Crowd at Mazen's performance

The crowd at Mazen’s performance was enthralled! (photo courtesy of Urbanist Art Gallery)

More recently, I have been appointed as a collaborator and part of the support team of MIA Art Collection in the UAE. MIA Art Collection is an international private and not-for-profit art collection that celebrates the female artist across different histories, civilizations and regions of the world. Founder and Director Mrs Alejandra Castro Rioseco is a philanthropist that champions women in the art community and curates acclaimed exhibitions. I am very thrilled to have joined the team, and look forward to upcoming collaborations.

As an Independent Curator, I have the freedom to collaborate with different institutions, galleries, museums and other art venues on projects that interest and excite me. Below is a list of 5 things I learned are paramount to curating, which I applied to my activities in Dubai.


Deciding who you work with is a big step. Sometimes artists choose me, sometimes I choose my artists. In either case, a relationship of mutual admiration and respect is foundational. I choose to work with artists whose work I can believe in; whom I can represent seamlessly. My artists inspire me; indeed, I can talk about each of them for hours.

The portfolio of the artist does not only reflect their talent and skill; it represents their evolution and their core vision. So, yes, revising an artist’s portfolio is important. But I tend to trust my instincts based on my relationship with the artist directly.



As an independent curator, I approach the venues I want to work with depending on the nature and context of the project. The venue’s policies and curatorial scopes ought to be considered seriously by the curator, especially if one of the tasks is to secure external funding.

Researching the galleries’ backgrounds is one of the curator’s roles. Synchronicity between the project, the artist and the gallery’s mission/vision is key.



In 2024, online presence is vital in any industry. Besides the obvious, it is important to tailor your posts (and, in my case, my articles and videos) to your audience. Make your content relevant and interesting to the art world. I have linked my TikTok and Instagram accounts to each other, and I try to make my YouTube channel engaging by using original music composed just for me.



Meeting actors in the field is important, especially in the local art scene. Lookup art events, follow newsletters, go to exhibition openings, social calls, concerts, solo and group shows, and museum events. Connect with people, tell others about what you do, share your business card, show up! I have found the gallerists, curators, artists, journalists and art-enthusiasts in the UAE to be very open and supportive. It is a great community to belong to!



I have found what has led my projects to success is having a strong, curatorial vision. This has also guided me from the get-go as I realize my projects. Once you know what your vision is, what the project is about, and what are the artist(s)’ strengths, you can’t but have a clear path to follow till the end.

Maie at Urbanist Art

At one of my first visits to Urbanist Art Gallery, in front of a Maria Arida painting (photo by the author)

Maie in D3 November2023

Attending some events in Dubai Design district D3 November 2023 (photo by the author)

Hope this helps! I would really love to hear your feedback. You can reach me at gallery@arthistorianmaie.com and do make sure to check out my Shop, links below.

Stay tuned for upcoming activities in the UAE.

Check out a special selection of Antonello Ghezzi art pieces here, reach out to me if you want a coupon for free shipping!

Follow Urbanist Art Gallery on Instagram here and check their website here.

You can view Mazen Khaddaj’s ‘New Self Found’ on Artsy here, and check out his Shop here.

Browse through the Louma Rabah shop here, the Semaan Khawam shop here, the Elias Ayoub shop here, and the Antonio Pauciulo shop here.

Read about Ralph Hage’s exhibition on Artsy here, and check out his shop here.

If you want to inquire about investing in a Myriam Ghali painting, contact me at gallery@arthistorianmaie.com