'And the award for the fastest-growing auction house goes to...'

Five years ago, hardly anyone mentioned modern and contemporary art from the Arab region. Yet times have certainly changed.

Following Christie's successful inaugural Middle East art sale in May 2006 (total sales: $8.5 million/AED 31.2 million) to buyers across 17 countries), Arabian art has since caught the attention of the international art world.

And now Christie's is reaping the rewards for being the first auction house to set up a permanent base in the Middle East. Over the weekend, the company announced that its Dubai branch was its fastest-growing auction house in 2010.

Jewad Salim's record-breaking scupture, Mother And Child

According to Christie's, sales in 2010 were 153% higher than the previous year. This success is down to the rapidly transforming Middle East market, as the region's own artists increasingly share the spotlight with Warhol, Picasso and other market stalwarts.

And it isn't only Christie's which is enjoying the success. In October of last year, Bonhams sold a unique Jewad Salim sculpture, Mother And Child for $384,000 (Dh 1.4m) in Dubai - setting a new World Record price for an Iraqi artwork.

As Arabian art offers a relatively untapped, growing and prosperous niche to savvy investors, buyers can feel confident that Dubai's success will continue throughout 2011.  

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