It's no secret that Dubai has been working on having its art scene under the spotlight, with female trailblazers helping to make this possible, resulting today in a vibrant and inspiring sector. Enter Hala Khayat, the current regional director at Art Dubai with over 13 years of experience in leadership roles. A Syrian, French, and Canadian national based in Dubai, Khayat is a powerhouse, a woman who has not only made a name in arts but is also an established writer and an art consultant.
Her journey into the world of art was perhaps clearly shaped by the studies she pursed during her university years. From Damascus University, she holds a BA in Designs and Visuals, and she also has a master’s degree in Design Studies at the University of the Arts London.
After graduating, Khayat then spent 13 years, from June 2007 to July 2020, working for Christie's as director, head of post war and contemporary art, and head of sales specializing on Arabic, Iranian, and Turkish arts. In addition, she put together an art curriculum for a private institution and dealt with charity auctions. Ever since 2020, she has been working as an independent art consultant and, in March 2021, was appointed regional director at Dubai Art.
In fact, March 2021 marked the triumphant return of Art Dubai having gone on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Khayat wanted the 14th edition to mark the UAE's 50th anniversary with a week-long event taking place at the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), with smaller events taking place in other venues throughout the year. Over 50 local and international artists from 31 countries attended Art Dubai, with both classic and contemporary artworks being featured in the galleries. Some of the artworks were also sold via the "Portraits Exhibition" digital initiative. In addition, artists who weren't able to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions were given the opportunity to present themselves virtually, giving every artist all necessary means to interact with the public.
In addition to shining in leadership roles, Khayat has always wanted to help talented Syrians get their foot on the door. In 2014, she set up "Safir," an NGO, and a project by MASSYR helping Syrian and regional artists get global exposure. This is achieved by building a network of regional artists, curators, and mentors. You can visit safirart.org to learn more.