Qatar’s First Auction House Kicks Off With Sale of Islamic and Oriental Art

Sheikha Al-Mayassa attends opening


Qatar is getting its first-ever local auction house, called AlBahie, in the Katara cultural village, on the edge of Doha. The first sale, of Islamic and Oriental art, kicks off April 5.

The venture was founded by HE Sheikh Abdulrahman bin Hamad al-Thani and Ashraf Abu Issa and is directed by a Canadian art historian, Corinne Lefebvre, according to the Financial Times. Lefebvre will be assisted by Alexandra Bots, who joins AlBahie from Christie’s Amsterdam.

“The goal behind opening this auction house,” said HE Sheikh Abdurrahman bin Hamad Al-Thani in a statement on the AlBahie website, “was to contribute to the revival of Islamic culture and support authentic Arab and Islamic heritage.” He also praised the support extended by HE Chairperson of Qatar Museums Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al-Thani and thanked Her Excellency for gracing the opening ceremony. The business opened on March 6.


The presale exhibition of Oriental and Islamic art at the Al Bahie showroom.
Image: Courtesy of Al Bahie.

Registration and online bidding are already available, according to the AlBahie website, which also states that the venture is “a first in Qatar and in the region.” It further states that the auction house seeks to position itself “as a leader in the region for the sale of Antiques, Paintings, Watches and Clocks, Motor Cars, and Jewelry.”

From the story in the FT:

The most expensive lot on offer is an elaborately inlaid, 19th-century Ottoman cabinet (est. $130,000-$180,000); a splintered musical instrument, by the French sculptor Arman, is estimated at $58,000-$70,000. Orientalist painting and sculpture, books and Islamic art complete the 240-lot catalogue, which is expected to fetch about $1m overall. Later in the year, sales will feature carpets, Islamic and contemporary art.

Several developments in the Middle East, including in Qatar and Dubai, suggest experts think the auction business there is set for further growth. Sotheby’s, which is already active in Doha and periodically holds auctions there, is set to open a new office in Dubai, the FT reports, with an initial focus on private sales and possibly, actual auctions further down the road.

As the report notes, Christie’s has been active in Dubai for roughly a decade now though it points out, “the market doesn’t seem to be expanding in Dubai. Its latest auction season produced just short of $12m for modern and contemporary art, excluding watches and handbags. This is slightly up on last year’s total of $11.4m, but doesn’t exactly point to a growing market.”

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