Meem Gallery in Al Quoz emerged in the earlier days of the Dubai art boom, January 2007, with a clear purpose - to showcase the modern masters of the Middle East, in the Middle East.
"We saw that no one was bringing out the best, the pioneers, the founding fathers of the Middle Eastern art movement," says Charles Pocock, managing partner and managing director.
Meem is far more than just an exhibition space. The gallery has been involved in various activities to promote its cause. Within its warehouse-style confines in the somewhat bohemian art district of Dubai, is the Noor Islamic Gallery of Islamic Art, a library regarded as the largest resource centre in the region (3,500 books, journals and auction catalogues) for contemporary Middle Eastern art and arts of the Islamic world.
More educational moves involved a partnership with Montblanc and others to establish the Montblanc Meem Lecture Series - free educational lectures on Arab culture and art. The gallery also gives back to the community by offering free exhibition space to art students from universities around the UAE.
Gearing up to be an institution in Middle Eastern art, the gallery has several people who form the brains and the backbone. Chairman Sultan bin Soud Al Qasimi and partner Mishal Hamad Kanoo back this institution with management left in the very capable hands of Pocock. Noura Haggag handles all art design and Samar Faruqui, the research.
Together, this talented and dedicated group brings beautiful, inspiring regional work to local aesthetes. Names such as Dia Azzawi, Ali Omar Ermes, Parviz Tanavoli, Nja Mahdaoui, Mona Saudi and others have displayed stunning works in the Al Quoz warehouse's pared-down confines.
"A gallery should always be about work and nothing should take away or distract from this, hence the white cube with not too aggressive lighting," says Pocock. "The minute a gallery design is about the gallery, it is obvious that the owner's complete focus is not on the work."
Pocock describes how art should be displayed for maximum focus, to do the work justice and let it speak for itself. "Not just the imagery, but the layout should be pleasing to the human eye and subconscious. The location of the work is crucial as placing the right work in the wrong place can kill it."
Tips buyers of art can take note of when displaying these works in their own homes: Pocock suggests you place yourself in the viewer's shoes when exhibiting work. "Visiting an exhibition is taking a cultural journey, and we try to make it as enjoyable as possible for you by placing work in a way that lets you start and finish - an eventful journey that will always be remembered."
There are great plans for the gallery's future - joint ventures in Kuwait, possible partnerships in Saudi, a move to publishing, and some more Middle Eastern masters to potentially look forward to, such as Ibrahim Salahi, Mohammad Omar Khalil, Mahmoud Obaidi, Halim Karim and more. "The art scene in Dubai has grown very fast and has grown up," says Pocock, "the focus now being on quality and the quality of the work, not just the hype."