Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi: art collector whose collections brought Arab world art to a global stage

The Sharjah art collector and cultural figure is dedicated to preserving, presenting, and exhibiting an extensive collection of modern and contemporary Arab art.

Sheikh Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation

Christie’s London presents artists from the Arab world in Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World, which runs until 23 August. 

Organised in partnership with the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Culture and Youth, and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World is the largest exhibition of the art of the region in London to date, presenting highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation, a collection of works by the pioneering Emirati artist Hassan Sharif and a group of works by contemporary Emirati artists. An unmissable event for this season’s arts and culture calendar with works spanning over 80 years of creativity from 1939 to 2023. 

Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation is an immersive journey through the transformative epochs and powerful voices that have shaped the modern Arab art landscape. Assembled from geographies within the Arab world, Kawkaba, “Constellation,” resonates with a myriad of artists and creators – some celebrated, others underrepresented. Drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation dedicated to the art of the Arab World, every work in the exhibition is a testament to the talent and ingenuity of artists of the region, reflecting their unique visions and the profoundly ingrained essences of their cultures.

Kawkaba is a gender-balanced exhibition that presents masterpieces of leading figures of the field, such as Huguette Caland, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Etel Adnan, Marwan, Safia Farhat, Jewad Selim, Inji Efflatoun, and Mohamed Melehi. It concurrently sheds light on underrepresented artists – based in the region, from the diaspora, or exiled -, who have highly contributed to modern Arab Art. Kawkaba is a window into the soul of the Arab world, an exploration of its complexities, and a tribute to its resilience and creativity. Through this exhibition, visitors are invited to traverse the artistic spirit of the Arab world and partake in its unrivalled transformative journey.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is an Emirati columnist and researcher on social, political and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf. Sultan was a practitioner-in-residence at the Hagop Kevorkian Center of Near East Studies at New York University in the Spring of 2017, a 2018 Yale Greenberg World Fellow, a lecturer at the Council of Middle East Studies in Yale University and then an Adjunct Instructor at the Center of Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University in 2019, a Visiting Instructor at the Islamic Civilization & Societies Program in Boston College and a Senior Lecturer at the Art History and Fine Arts department in The American University of Paris in 2020. In 2021, he taught at Boston College, the School of Public Affairs at SciencesPo, Paris, Middle East Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Brandeis University. In 2022, he taught at Columbia University, New York, and SciencesPo, Paris.

Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent, UAE-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit an extensive collection of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. The foundation’s guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE.

The exhibitions are open to the public from 20 July to 23 August