Alexander Barakat

Founder and Editor


Raised in Beverly Hills but based in London, Alexander Barakat is an art critic and arts and culture correspondent dealing primarily with contemporary Arab and Iranian art, also avidly interested in contemporary art from other areas of the Middle East, East Asia, and the West.  He is currently completing his degree at the School of Oriental and African Studies pursuing art history, specialising in the art histories of the Near and Middle East from antiquity to the modern day. On an academic level, Barakat is also knowledgeable about the art-music traditions of the Arab world.  He has been published in Canvas and has contributed to various other publications including Contemporary Practices, Oasis, and Unfair, and authors the Dia Diwan art blog.  Barakat is currently the editor of Muraqqa, a periodical based on his own personal initiative launched in October 2009, and still continues to freelance with other prominent arts related publications.

Aya Alireza


Saudi by nationality and educated in England, Aya Alireza earned a BA in International History at the London School of Economics, followed by an MA in Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, University of London).

Currently based in London, she is dabbling in the multi-faceted art world in search of her niche in the field, aware of the evolving platform of the Middle Eastern contemporary art scene . With a close eye on its emerging market, she hopes to use her experience to contribute to the development of a framework for contemporary art in Saudi Arabia.

Saleh Barakat


A leading expert in contemporary Arab art, Saleh Barakat, 41, founded Agial Art Gallery (1991) and Maqam Art Gallery (2008) in Beirut. As the executive manager of the two galleries, he participated in building some major collections of modern and contemporary Arab art. Possessing a strong business background in addition to his experience in the arts, Barakat has been engaged in developing a healthy market environment for creative expression in the Arab world. He curated several pan-Arab exhibitions, including the IXth Francophone Summit in Beirut, the 2003 World Bank Summit in Dubai, and “The Road to Peace: Painting in Times of War 1975-1991” at the Beirut Art Center in 2009. He also co-curated the first national pavilion for Lebanon at the 52nd Venice Biennale and the touring exhibition “Mediterranean Crossroads”, in collaboration the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He serves on the steering committee of the Arts Center at the American University of Beirut. He was nominated as a Yale World Fellow in 2006.

Reem Fekri


Reem Fekri is a UAE national and studied at the Chelsea School of Art and Design and Central Saint Martins obtaining a degree in fine art. Fekri later attended SOAS and Kings College London where she studied the management of cultural and creative industries. She is currently working at Art Dubai as the gallery liaison and editor of their online journal. Fekri also freelances for various publications commenting on contemporary artistic practices within the MENASA region.

Amro Sabounchi


Amro Sabounchi has worked for many years with American investment banks, and now deals with real estate projects in countries such as Canada, as well as the Middle East. He has been a long time follower of the art world, and contributes to online lifestyle publications.

Sueraya Shaheen

Art and Photography Director


Sueraya Shaheen, born in Beirut to Syrian parents, is a photographer now based in Dubai. She is Photography Editor of Tribe magazine, which she co-founded in 2015 as the first magazine to focus exclusively on contemporary photography from the Arab world.

Sueraya has spent the past ten years building an archive of portraits of artists from the MENA region, which have been featured in Arab Photography Now (2011) by Rose Issa and Michket Krifa and Summer Autumn Winter and Spring: Conversations with Artists from the Arab World (2015) by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath.

Asmaa Al-Shabibi


Asmaa Al-Shabibi is an art consultant specializing in the Middle East and is based in Dubai. Having studied and practiced law in the City of London for eight years Asmaa’s career took a change of course when she moved to the Emirates in 2003. In 2007 she joined Art Dubai as its managing director and has recently set up her own consultancy advising private clients and corporates on the acquisition of Contemporary Middle Eastern art as well as writing and publishing on the subject.

Doris Bittar


Doris Bittar was born in Baghdad, Iraq, to parents of Lebanese and Palestinian descent. Bittar earned her bachelors degree at the State University of New York at Purchase and received a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of California, San Diego. Bittar has taught art at the University of California, San Diego since 1996 and the American University of Beirut in 2005. Bittar's current projects combine various disciplines that examine the bridges and chasms between East and West. Her site-specific projects within the cities of Ravenna, Sharjah and Alexandria are drawn from historical, cultural and regional sources. Bittar was featured in the Arab American National Museum’s inaugural exhibition and is a participant for the Sharjah and Alexandria Biennials. Bittar’s paintings, photographs and sculpture are housed in several public collections nationally and internationally, among them the California Center for the Arts, the Arab American National Museum, and the Bank of Sharjah. Her work has been reviewed in Art in America and The Los Angeles Times among other journals. Most recently, Bittar is among the artists discussed in the book New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century published by Thames and Hudson.

Ana Finel Honigman


Ana Finel Honigman is a New York-born and Berlin-based critic, curator and a PhD candidate at Oxford University. She writes on fashion and contemporary art for on-line and print publications including,,, Art in America, V, Art Journal, Dazed & Confused, Whitewall, Saatchi Online, The Daily Beast, The Guardian's Art and Architecture blog,, New York, Sleek, TANK and British Vogue.

Aisha Mazin Stoby


Aisha Mazin Stoby is currently studying at SOAS , University of London specializing in contemporary Middle Eastern art. In 2004 she was a moderator for UNIS-UN, a conference held on globilisation at the United Nations General Assembly. In 2005 she worked for the Omani Mission to the United Nations. She has since worked for both Sotheby’s and the Sotheby’s Institute of Art promoting public art education. She has served as assistant art director at Bait Muzna Gallery, in her home country of Oman and has worked extensively within Oman promoting the arts. As the director and founder of Nahdhat Oman, she is currently curating a series of exhibitions on Omani art which will be held in Europe and the United States (

Richard Wilding

Creative Director


Richard Wilding is a London based photographer and filmmaker specialising in the documentation of cultural identity, heritage, archaeology and costume in the Middle East. Richard’s photography has been exhibited at the Houses of Parliament, Courtauld Institute of Art and University of Exeter in the UK and in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He has coordinated exhibitions of historical photography in Jeddah and Madinah, Saudi Arabia.

Since 2012, Richard has been Creative Director of Gulan, a UK registered charity which promotes the culture of Kurdistan. He is a trustee of the Mansoojat Foundation, a charity formed to preserve and document the traditional costumes of Saudi Arabia. He has produced films about the Mansoojat costume collection and recently completed a book with Mansoojat about the costumes and heritage of Saudi Arabia, due for publication in 2019.

in 2019, Richard co-curated the exhibition Departures: A journey through the Islamic World, organised by The Barakat Trust and Asia House in London. He has recently produced a film documenting projects supported by The Barakat Trust across the Islamic world.

Alex Aubry


Alex Aubry is a Chicago-based architect and a features editor/art director at Dia Diwan, an online lifestyle magazine covering the Middle East and its Diaspora. Exposed at an early age to places as diverse as Paris, London, Beirut and Bahrain, his work is an exploration of cultural fusions and societies in flux between tradition and modernity. In addition to being a regular contributor to Unfair and AYN magazine, he has co-curated exhibits on design and lectured at the Chicago History Museum. In October 2008 his artwork combining hand painted calligraphy and digital imagery was displayed at the Within(Reason) Gallery in Chicago. The exhibit was done in conjunction with the film screening he organized highlighting the work of two of the Middle East’s emerging female directors. Titled “Directors from Beyond Veil” the films shown were Zeina Durra’s short, The Seventh Dog, followed by Nadine Labaki’s highly acclaimed feature film, Caramel.

Shirley Elghanian


Shirley Elghanian is the chair of Magic of Persia. She lives and works in London. She founded Magic of Persia in 2001, and has since been involved in organising and managing numerous events aimed at the promotion of Iranian art and culture worldwide. For the benefit and promotion of Iranian art and culture, Elghanian has successfully established valuable links with world class institutions such as Tate Britain, Royal College of Art and the V&A, and has formed partnerships with The Delfina Foundation, The British Museum and The London Film School.

Yasmine Mohseni


Yasmine Mohseni is a Los Angeles-based arts writer and independent curator. Her articles have been published in The Art Newspaper, Beautiful/Decay, BlackBook,, Newsweek, and Whitewall, among other magazines. She is the U.S. Correspondent for the Dubai-based arts publication Canvas. She curates gallery exhibitions in Los Angeles and recently sat on a juried panel at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Art Forum. She is a nominator for the 2012 Magic of Persia’s Contemporary Art Prize. Yasmine has an M.A. in Art and Design History from the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, a B.A. in Art History from Occidental College in Los Angeles and a diploma from Christie's Education in Paris.

Christa Paula

Christa Paula is a freelance art historian, author and curator based in London . Born in 1959 in Berchtesgaden , Germany , she was educated in the United States , Japan and the UK . She has written on art since 1982 and has published both academic and popular books and articles. From 1996 to 2003, she dedicated herself to humanitarian aid in the family, whilst teaching English as a foreign language and occasionally leading expeditions along the Silk Road . Since her return to the field of art history she has concentrated on modern and contemporary art from the Islamic world contributing to and then editing The Bite Magazine from 2004 to 2007. Since 2008 she has occasionally advised Bonhams auction house in London on the work of modern and contemporary masters from the Islamic World. Academically, she remains affiliated to SOAS. Presently she is a Visiting Curator at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman.