The prestigious Abraaj Capital Art Prize, established by the Dubai-based private equity firm Abraaj Capital, is expanding the number of winners to five from three for 2011 to offer more contemporary artists from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) the opportunity to benefit from the resources and global recognition the prize offers.
The Dubai based private equity firm, Abraaj Capital, developed the US$ 1 million prize in 2008 with Art Dubai, and has since awarded the prize twice, each time to three sets of winners comprising an artist and an internationally renowned curator. The award is granted on the merit of a proposal of an unrealised project, and is the world's most generous. Works are unveiled in March at Art Dubai, Asia's premier art fair. The MENASA region comprises twenty-four countries, and stretches from Morocco to Bangladesh, and Turkey to Sri Lanka. The range and diversity of cultures and artistic heritage is vast.
Given the prize's generosity, Abraaj has concluded that widening the number of winners to five will give more artists from this culturally rich region of 1.6 billion people the opportunity to create a work of art that pushes the boundaries of their practice and offers them an international platform to showcase themselves and this generally under-represented region.
In a second change to the structure of the prize, artists will be able to submit proposals themselves.
After identifying the five winners, the Selection Committee will invite one internationally renowned curator to work with the artists on their five projects. The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is unique in many ways, including being the only one in the world that simultaneously rewards the merits of curating as well as artistic production.
Abraaj Capital is a committed patron of the arts. The art prize, now in its second year, has quickly achieved international recognition and boosted the overall profile of art from the region as well as each of the winners to date. The works of the 2009 winners are currently on display in the prestigious Museum of Arts & Design in New York.