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An Upcoming Series of Exhibitions and Events in London Will Offer a Dose of Middle Eastern Culture

This summer, Sotheby’s is taking over London’s famed Bond Street for Hafla, a series of exhibitions and events showcasing Middle Eastern culture.


A pair of Spessartine Garnets and Mediterranean Coral earrings by Sabba. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

As people from the region and beyond make their way to London for the summer, Sotheby’s will host a series of exhibitions that spotlight Middle Eastern culture for nearly a month. Titled Hafla, meaning celebration in Arabic, the event will honor Arab talent and creativity via the galleries of Sotheby’s London offering everything from art to fashion from August 12-30 on Bond Street.

Pochette Zaboon. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Highlights of Hafla include five limited-edition handbags designed by HRH Princess Nourah Al Faisal, CEO of Art of Heritage, which is dedicated to protecting and uplifting Saudi Araba’s traditional craft. Inspired by the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, the pieces are created as a collaborative effort between British luxury goods brand Asprey and the royal’s own jewelry label Nuun. Each one of the handbags pays tribute to the diversity and beauty of the five major regions of Saudi Arabia through their colors, motifs, and embroidery techniques. Arab jewelry creation and the influence of the Eastern world on the art is also highlighted in around 60 remarkable pieces selected by A2Z Advisory Bahrain. Alongside featuring extraordinary colored gemstones, and diamonds, the collection also includes noteworthy pieces by some of the industry’s top designers and maisons.

Abdulhalim Radwi (Saudi Arabia, 1939 – 2006). Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

As for the art, over 50 works—including paintings, sculptures, and installations—spanning 50 years of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary visual art have been curated by Sotheby’s in collaboration with Qaswra Hafez, founder of Jeddah’s Hafez Gallery. Islamic art also makes up a significant portion of Hafla, with a dedicated exhibition exploring the rich calligraphic tradition across the region. This includes the earliest Qur’anic manuscripts in Kufic script, lavish illumination of the Qajars, and a selection of important leaves from religious and secular manuscripts showcasing the evolution of the calligraphic arts from the 8th to the 21st century.


A calligraphic scroll section, Turkey or Persia, Ottoman or Timurid, mid-15th century. Photo: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

What’s more, Hafla will also host immersive events in tandem with the exhibitions such as panel discussions and gallery tours. The Sotheby’s Café is also set to undergo a makeover to represent the region’s love for the café culture.

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