The event was the first major sale of contemporary art staged in the emirate during which $400m worth of pieces were offered. About 9,000 visitors attended.

“For a first art fair that amount of sales is good,” says a Dubai-based art consultant. “A lot of dealers bought high-priced work and there was a lot of expectation that the government would buy. A lot of dealers wanted to dip their toes in the market and were pleasantly surprised with sales. There aren’t any institutional buyers yet.”

The event was organised in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage and the Tourism Development & Investment Company and is part of the emirate’s plans to promote itself as a destination for cultural tourism. The government is building a cultural district at Saadiyat Island that will include the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum and the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum.

Art Dubai will stage its second annual contemporary art show in Dubai in March 2008.