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The 2016 Sovereign Middle East & North Africa Art Prize Finalists Released

September 2016, Dubai:

The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF), in association with START, has just revealed the top 30 finalists who will be taking part in the very first MENA edition of its coveted Art Prize.

Following 12 successful years of The Sovereign Asian Art Prize, held annually in Hong Kong, The Sovereign Art Foundation will arrive in the UAE for the very first time with its inaugural Sovereign Middle East & North Africa Art Prize. The Prize, which has the theme ‘Hope Takes Flight’, will culminate in a grand exhibition, dinner and auction conducted by Christie’s and held on October 19, where the first prize winner will be crowned and awarded US$30,000. The winner of a public vote will also be recognised with a US$1,000 prize.

An independent board of nominators, made up of over 20 of the region’s independent art professionals including curators, art historians and arts writers from top museums, galleries and universities first nominated over 200 mid-career artists to feature in the competition. That talented pool of artists was then whittled down to just 30 finalists by a panel of world class art professionals - among them, Tim Marlow from the Royal Academy, collector Fati Maleki, Alserkal Avenue’s Abdelmonem Alserkal and noted curators David Elliot and Simon Njami.

The top 30 artworks include a two dimensional art piece made from a rubber tyre and lace, a photographic work formed by silver particles found in a disused photo studio, a flower sculpture created from mirrored stainless steel and a sculpture made entirely from plastic figurines. All finalist pieces have been produced by highly talented artists from locations across the MENA region, including the UAE, Lebanon, Morocco and Turkey, amongst others.

The successful finalists are:

Artist Artist
Mr Reza Aramesh Mrs Ardan Ozmenoglu
Mr Yazan Khalili Mr Athier Mousawi
Mr Walid Siti Mr Slimen El Kamel
Ms Eda Soylu Mr Sahand Hesamiyan
Miss Nidaa Badwan Mr Alfred Tarazi
Ms Sama Alshaibi Mr Ammar Abd Rabbo
Mr Hazem Harb Mr Jawad Al Malhi
Mr Asad Faulwell Ms Nadia Kaabi-Linke
Mrs Azadeh Akhlaghi Ms Ghazel Radpay
Mr Waleed Al Wawi Mrs Alma Itzhaky
Ms Safaa Erruas Mr(s) Ramin
Haerizadeh, Rokni
Haerizadeh and Hesam
Ms Nasrin Abu Baker Mr Seydi Murat Koc
Miss Radhika Khimji Mrs Mayasa Al Sowaidi
Mr Vartan Avakian Mr Jaffar Aloraibi
Ms Sharon Glazberg Mr Jaber Al Azmeh

The Sovereign Art Foundation’s annual Asian Art Prize is recognised as the most prestigious contemporary art prize in its region, so its arrival in the MENA region has been met with much excitement. All finalists’ work will be exhibited from October 13-17 at Warehouse 46, Alserkal Avenue, where the public will have a chance to view the works up-close and cast a vote for their favourite piece.

The Prize will come to an exciting close with a glamorous invitation-only evening, held at Dubai’s luxurious Armani Hotel. During the evening, SAF and START will announce the winners as well as auctioning the work of the 29 finalists, with the exception of the first prize winning entry. The auction will be supported by Christie’s and their auctioneer Nick Martineau, with 40% of funds raised at the exclusive event going to back the artists; and the remaining 60% being donated to START.

To date, The Sovereign Art Foundation has raised over US$5 million for charities worldwide. By presenting the inaugural MENA event in partnership with START - a non-profit organisation which runs art-based workshops for orphans, refugees and special needs children across the MENA region - the Foundation aims to raise funds to sustain existing START projects, in addition to helping in their mission to expand their reach to more vulnerable children.


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Notes to Editors

About The Sovereign Art Foundation (SAF)

The Sovereign Art Foundation is a charity founded in 2003 in Hong Kong, which is now also registered in the UK, Singapore and South Africa. SAF runs the annual Sovereign Asian Art Prize with the purpose of raising money to help disadvantaged children. Since its inception, SAF has raised over US$5 million for charities worldwide, while the Sovereign Asian Art Prize has become the largest award for the arts across Asia. SAF funds projects using art as education, rehabilitation and therapy for disadvantaged children. The Sovereign Asian Art Prize is now in its 12th year and is the biggest, best known and most prestigious arts prize in the Asia region.

About Sovereign

Sovereign’s core business is setting up and managing companies, trusts, pensions, insurance and other structures to meet the specific personal or business needs of its clients. Typically these needs would include tax planning, wealth protection, property ownership and facilitating cross border business. The first Sovereign office opened in Gibraltar in 1987 and we now have offices or agents in all the major international finance centres. We have also developed a wide range of supporting services such as wealth management, specialist tax advice, yacht and aircraft registration, credit cards, fund formation, pension services, residence and citizenship applications, as well as trademark and intellectual property registration and protection.


START is a non-profit organisation running art workshops for orphans, refugees and special needs children across the MENA region. It runs over 60 workshops every weekly across Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, India, Egypt, Turkey and the UAE reaching over 2,000 every week. START’s mission is to heal and educate children who have suffered from war, pain, loss and who suffer from mental and physical disabilities. Many of its students have seen things no child should ever see, and START workshops provide these vulnerable children with a safe and secure environment to learn, interact with their peers, develop their skills, creativity and most importantly confidence. As the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon recently said, “Refugees have been deprived of their homes, but they must not be deprived of their futures.” START want to give children and young adults an opportunity to create a future as rich and free as their imaginations.

About Christie’s

Founded in 1766, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 12 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Mumbai. In May 2006, Christie’s made art market history by holding its first auction of International Modern & Contemporary Art in the Middle East. Since then, it has gone on to sell over US$235 million worth of art in Dubai and firmly established itself as the leading auction house in the region. Through various charitable activities, Christie’s has helped to raise more than US$20 million for Middle Eastern charities. The auction house is keen to encourage and support educational opportunities and holds exhibitions, educational seminars and charity auctions throughout the region.