A page of more or less local competitions, open calls, residencies and other opportunities open to the Gulf’s creative community

RAKFAF Curatorial Development Program


DEADLINE 30 September 2021
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Training and mentorship, a space at the upcoming Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival for a final exhibition, and AED10,000 to support the exhibition

  • Mentoring for and development of an exhibition at RAK Fine Arts Festival (4 Feb – 31 March 2022)
  • Must also provide a talk or workshop during RAKFAF
  • Financial support (AED 10,000)
  • No previous curatorial experience required (but would presumably be attractive to the selectors)
  • No requirement at this stage for a full proposal for the exhibition or artists to be included (but we’d counsel that an outline at least is recommended)
  • Must be able to demonstrate “interest and involvement” in the UAE arts scene (some good contacts would be useful too)
  • Must be available 10 October to 4 February to take part in the programme (we think it can’t be full time but there is no specificity about what commitment is involved)
  • Apply online with CV and ‘statement of intent’, to include
    – why you are interested in the programme
    – what you hope to get from it
    – past experience with curation (if any)
    – initial ideas for the final exhibition
    – experience in public engagement
  • Programme will be conducted in English “but proficiency in Arabic is appreciated”
  • No entry fee
  • Queries to ethan@alqasimifoundation.rak.ae
  • UAE national or resident
  • Born on or after February 4, 1996 (25 years or younger when RAKFAF opens)

  • One applicant will be selected to take part in the programme
  • Training and mentorship from “world-renowned curators
  • Exhibition space at the Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival
  • AED10,000 to support the exhibition

Open Call: applications to the Tashkeel Critical Practive Programme 2022


DEADLINE 16 October 2021
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Open call for applications from artists working in any discipline(s) for a 15-month self-directed programme of development leading to a solo exhibition

  • Aim: to provide the artist with sustained support to develop their work in an environment that encourages progressive experimentation, cross-disciplinary exchange and cross-cultural dialogue
  • Any visual art practice is eligible.
  • Four participants will be selected by a Tashkeel panel.
  • Applicants should be
    – able to show a strong portfolio “demonstrating sustained investigation into themes and/or topics”
    – willing to deliver talks, workshops and other forms of public engagement
    – able to commit to a 15-month timespan (from January 2022 to April 2023)
    – “interested in growing as a teaching artist”
  • The programme is customised around the artist’s practices and/or areas of research. Provides studio support, critique and production for up to one year; starts with three months of workshops and seminars, after which the participants follow independent paths of research, experimentation and production.
  • A mentor is assigned (with the artist’s approval) “to build, challenge and guide them through the programme”.
  • Participants will be provided with full Tashkeel membership, regular and ongoing support from Tashkeel personnel, and access to all facilities. Participants are expected to be active members of the Tashkeel community, using Tashkeel and its facilities regularly and attending Members’ Monday sessions (first Monday of the month, 5-6.30pm).
  • Participants are encouraged to contribute to Tashkeel’s online platforms with regular journal entries charting progress.
  • Tashkeel understands that applicants may not be able to commit on a full-time basis, but it seems a minimum of 15 hours per week is expected.
  • Tashkeel allocates a budget to each artist, to include the production of artwork and an accompanying publication. (It seems you don’t specify a required budget in advance – it’s assigned after selection, presumably in discussion with the artist.)
  • Apply online with biography, artist statement, portfolio, and responses to a list of specific questions concerning
    – your experience in public engagement
    – your areas of interest / practice and core objectives
    – benefits anticipated
    – projected outcome(s)
    – any online content that might generated as part of your process
    – commitment of 15 hours a week or more
  • No entry fee
  • Over 21
  • Practicing artists “in any discipline” (but visual arts only, presumably)
  • Resident in the UAE
  • Not yet represented by a gallery
  • University degree “or equivalent experience”

  • Four selected applicants take part in the professional development programme
  • Unspecified funding available
  • The four participants are expected to exhibit at the end of the programme (though elsewhere it’s implied that a publication or other outcome would be an alternative). Solo exhibition dates are already scheduled for …
    – 10 May to 21 June 2022
    – 13 Sept to 25 October 2022
    – 17 January to 28 February 2023
    – 7 March to 25 April 2023

Open Call: FOCAL POINT Publishing Grant


DEADLINE 15 November 2021
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Submit proposals for a publishing project; winners get a share of $30,000 plus publishing and distribution support

  • Aim: to support “printed matter that stands out for its intellectual, graphic and material qualities”
  • Submit proposals for “a project that will contribute to the production of original ideas and critical thinking and will take an experimental and innovative approach to publishing in the broader discourse on art and culture”
  • Artists, writers, art and cultural scholars, independent publishers and publishing houses, collectives and public institutions can apply
  • The Foundation will provide a total of $30,000 to “multiple grantees” (no indication of maximum number but there were three in 2020) in addition to publishing and distribution support
  • Three categories:
    Long-form essays (6,000+ words) utilising unpublished original research or offering new readings of ideas and themes pertaining to solidarity within Global South networks, such as the MEASA (Middle East, Africa, and South Asia) region; underrepresented histories; or a new collection or anthology. The grant winning essay will be printed in a small reader format
    Reproduction of small publications that requires translation. This includes publications that have been out of print for the last 10 years and could be revised, updated and supplemented with a new academic introduction
    Experimental publications . Could include cookbooks, picture books, personal anecdotes, travelogues, geography books, artist zines, comics, graphic novels, children’s’ books, illustrated material and combinations of the above – “or any other type”
  • Apply online here with
    – Bio (500 words)
    – Project description (500 words)
    – Supporting material (one pdf file, max five pages and 10MB)
    – Amount of funding requested (max $15,000) and purpose (must be research and fee-based activities such as translation, image licensing, documentation, editing, printing)
  • Applicants should allow sufficient time to plan, implement and publish their project to coincide with the FOCAL POINT art book fair (9–11 December 2021)
  • Original material can be in any language but final project must be in Arabic and/or English-language
  • Not eligible:
    – fiction
    – poetry
    – biographies and autobiographies
    – exhibition catalogues or artist monographs associated with another institution or commercial space
    – projects where funding will cover infrastructure and equipment costs or the costs of operating cultural facilities, archives and collections
    – unfinished work
    – projects with an ISBN and/or commercial distribution
  • No entry fee
  • None stated

  • Winners get:
    – grant funding (max $30,000 available across all successful projects)
    – “publishing and distribution support”
    – 25 copies of their work
    – opportunity to launch completed project(s) at the FOCAL POINT art book fair (9–11 December 2021 at Bait Obaid Al Shamsi, Arts Square)
    – possibility of inclusion in the fair talks programme

Open Call: Waterfront Market Murals and Art Competition 2021 


DEADLINE 28 October 2021
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Open call for applications from individuals or teams for a mural to be painted live at Waterfront Market. Winner also gets AED 50,000

  • Competition aims to make the Waterfront Market “a destination that continues to showcase the heritage and progress of the UAE in line with the UAE founding fathers vision for the country”.
  • Winner will have a 337×590 cm space on a wall inside the building at the Waterfront Market, Deira on which to create the winning design live in public; must also recreate the winning design on a 337×590 cm canvas to be owned by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Winner also gets AED 50,000
  • Acceptable media: acrylic, oil, watercolour and gouache, digital painting, photography
  • Theme: “50 Years of Achievements”
  • Organisers provide materials and equipment (eg paint, lift platforms, painting utensils, canvas)
  • One work per applicant – can be individuals or a team (up to five members)
  • Apply by registering for an online account at https://murals.waterfrontmarket.ae/submit-your-artwork, then upload images of the proposed work along with “a brief explanation”. (Shortlisted applicants will be able to edit and resubmit subsequently)
  • Jury (“chosen for their passion of supporting and growing the local art scene”) will initially select a shortlist of five candidates, one of whom will then be announced as the winner “on or before” 10 November. Live mural painting will start at Waterfront Market shortly thereafter
  • Criteria for judging:
    – Relevance to the “50 Years of Achievements” concept
    – Composition
    – Technical excellence
    – Application
    – Creativity
  • As is normal for such competitions, copyright is effectively transferred to the organisers – the artwork remains their after the competition, and “the winning design … may be used fully and without restriction of any kind by Waterfront Market LLC for the purposes as described in the Rules…” (which are just about anything Waterfront Market LLC wants to do)
  • No entry fee
  • Queries to murals@waterfrontmarket.ae
  • Over 18
  • UAE national or resident

  • One winner (individual or team) receives AED 50,000
  • Mural created in public at Waterfront Market, remains in situ for as long as the organisers want it
  • A full size copy will be held by Dubai Culture

Open Call: Concept Proposals for the UAE National Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia


DEADLINE 31 October 2021
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Submit concept proposals for the UAE’s participation in the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale

  • Submit concept proposals for the UAE National Pavilion at the 18th International Architecture Exhibition at La Biennale di Venezia (due to run May to November 2023)
  • The proposal must be for an exhibition that will explore “an intriguing aspect of the UAE’s architecture or built environment that contributes to the understanding of and discourse around architectural practice locally, regionally and internationally” (applications that do not demonstrate a clear connection to the United Arab Emirates will be disqualified)
  • Open to “curators and curatorial teams” (applicants can be individuals or a team) of “architects, designers, artists, historians or researchers” (and at least one team member must have a background in architecture, urban planning, or urban design)
  • Apply with a single PDF (max 10 pages) including …

    – description/explainer (2500 words max). No need to specify content of proposals but an outline or indicative examples could be useful
    – any visual support material (eg photos, sketches)
    – short bio of team members (max 500 words per person) with passport copies and contact details for each team
    – up to three samples of past work (max 3 images per project)
  • Selection is by committee (“industry leaders and subject matter experts). Selection based on …

    1. content and quality of the proposal
    2. ability to execute final exhibition
    3. the UAE story being told and its global relevance
  • “Up to 10” proposals will be selected for development into a full exhibition proposal to be delivered by 10 January; “up to” three finalists will present to the selection committee who will then nominate one final proposal
  • No entry fee
  • Open to “architects, designers, artists, historians or researchers” (at least one team member must have a background in architecture, urban planning, or urban design)
  • Must have experience working in the UAE or MENASA region
  • Open to international applicants but “individuals living and working in the UAE or teams with one member who is UAE based are preferred”

  • One proposal is developed for exhibition at the 18th Venice Architecture Biennial. No financial remuneration specified