Asmaa Al-Shabibi & Will Lawrie
As ex-managing director of Art Dubai, Asmaa makes the perfect partner in crime to the Lawrie Shabibi Gallery. “It all came from a series of coffees and drinks with Will to get where I am today and I firmly believe in life you have to make a good exit plan. I love what I do – meeting artists and talking to them about their works and finally translating that into a show that provides inspiration and stimulation to the audience.”
Having been here for seven years, the British-Iraqi mother-of-two, says it was simply a gut feeling that brought her here. “After all these years, Dubai still resonates with me. We have a great art scene. You only need to visit the Al Quoz galleries to discover that it’s not what you expect. It immediately destroys the typical cliches.”
For 2011 Asmaa is looking forward to many things. “The art I am going to exhibit, the books I’m going to read, the places I am going to travel, the food I am going to eat, the music I am going to listen to and the love I am going to share.”
With a stellar reputation in the art world, it was just a matter of time before the ex-director and head of sales of Christie’s, set up his own gallery, Lawrie Shabibi.
“This is something I had wanted to do for quite some time and when I found my good friend Asmaa was looking to do the same, I thought we’d make the perfect team. Up until now, putting together auction exhibitions has been what’s given me satisfaction, and now I’ll be putting on many more shows. I’m very excited to bring a lot of artists here who have never exhibited in the UAE before.”
Will is an avid enthusiast in Islamic art. He worked for an Islamic art dealer before starting at Christie’s, where he spent many hours researching the Middle East art market and gathering together Arab and Iranian works for their first sale. “At that time there was no precedent – no lists of collectors, artists or galleries. That sale was a huge success and I headed the next eight auctions,” reveals the man whose life advice is to “not be afraid, to branch out on your own and think outside the box.”