Arab art, royal patronage and the search for definition

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


At the start of the twenty-first century there has been a rapid development of art museums in the Arab world, especially in the Gulf. This is reflected in a renewed interest in trying to work out the parameters of Islamic art and especially what an Arab art might be and how it should be defined. What makes that task so difficult is the fact that Arab art is to be characterized in a way that is aligned with what it is to be an Arab in this period, and that is also a complex issue, especially given the wide variety of cultural contexts in which Arabs now live. Various types of Arab art are discussed and some are criticized for being stereotypical and not grasping the challenge of modernity and what lies beyond it, while others are part of what could be called world art. The sudden growth of museum building is not really a reflection of anything especially new in Arab art but more of the ways in which very wealthy rulers compete for status and recognition on the world cultural stage. Nonetheless, this outburst of creativity in both Arab art and its museums, however they are defined, is an indication that these art traditions are joining the mainstream art world.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-181
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Contrastes. Revista International de Filosofia.


  • 21st century
  • Arab
  • Art
  • Museums
  • Persian gulf

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Arab art, royal patronage and the search for definition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this