ABU DHABI// The twin brothers who launched The Shelter, a popular community space for creative professionals in Dubai, are preparing to open a second, more art-focused branch in Sharjah. Ahmed and Rashid bin Shabib, 26, decided to expand after the success of their first facility, which opened in September 2008. The new location, planned for Al Qasba, will open on March 15 to coincide with the Art Dubai fair.
"We are excited about the prospect of expanding," said Ahmed. "We want The Shelter to be something that boosts the cultural and creative output of a place. In Dubai it has been very well received, and in Sharjah there has already been a lot of support." The Shelter Dubai is a large warehouse in the Al Quoz industrial area that offers rental space to small start-up businesses, holds local art exhibits and screens documentaries and independent films. It is also used as a general networking and meeting place.
The concept was designed to facilitate business and art projects. Although the second branch will be similar, the bin Shabib brothers say the model has been adapted for Sharjah. "In Dubai the aim was at helping creative professionals so the focus was more commercial. In Sharjah things are more arts and education centric, so the model is more focused on those fields," said Rashid. The brothers said they chose Sharjah because the artistic community was often overlooked, with too many people quick to stereotype the emirate for its overcrowded buildings and bad traffic.
They also said that the "tremendous" support from the Al Qasba Authority and other organisations further encouraged them. Ahmed said they were also eyeing branches in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Singapore and maybe even Istanbul. The Shelter Sharjah will be in a four-floor building. The first level will house permanent art exhibits from Sharjah-based collectors. One level will feature open exhibitions, and another will be reserved for ad hoc space. The ground floor will house a cafe.
Sharjah's space will begin hosting private events at the end of February. firstname.lastname@example.org