A presentation on Dubai’s role as an artistic centre revealed that, under the letter of the law, importing works of art that are, for instance, erotic or offensive to the ruling family, remain prohibited.
A representative of Fairhead Fine Art told the audience: “In a recent exhibition we held in Dubai we were told not to exhibit works with even a hint of eroticism.” He added that this meant a third of his Picassos had to be set aside from the exhibition.
However, Fionnuala Rogers of lawyers Pinsent Masons advised that attitudes are changing and that, in practice, many artworks can be imported with impunity.
A dispute-resolution lawyer from the audience said: “Right now it’s a grey area and for clients importing artworks there needs to be answers in black and white.”
“It’s not enough to say that attitudes are changing,” another audience member added. “Importing certain works requires a government permit, and art professionals need to know the right questions to ask.”