This year, Doha-based Al Bahie Auction House’s efforts to organise the Modern and Contemporary Art Auction 2020 is being spearheaded by a Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) Class of 2016 alumnus, Habib M Abu-Futtaim. The auction will take place on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in Building 22, at Katara – The Cultural Village. 
Abu-Futtaim, who studied at VCUarts Qatar and at UCL Qatar – two Qatar Foundation (QF) partner universities – notes how auctions such as these have helped Qatar lead the region when it comes to making modern and contemporary more accessible to the public.
“As the only local auction house in the region, and also one of the only places offering auctions of this nature, we raise public awareness and set standards for art collecting practices, especially in Qatar,” says Abu-Futtaim who has been working with Al Bahie Auction House for close to four years now.
“By doing so, we offer a reliable platform for both artists and the public to participate in the ‘art market’, which, while being an essential element of any art landscape, is also intimidating for a lot of people, including artists.
“In order to address this misconception, I worked with Al Bahie Auction House to create an easy-to-understand platform where both novice and experienced collectors can participate in local auctions. We’ve also streamlined our operations – we did this by choosing only those western auction practices that work in our ambience, using them to develop a new model of auctioning that is in tune with the local culture and customs.”
This year’s auction will feature works by a range of artists including El Seed, a renowned Calligraffiti artist, Baya Mahieddine, an Algerian artist known for her bold painting style, and Faraj Abbo, an Iraqi modernist celebrated as one of the first to develop a distinct visual language and identity for Arab art, away from the traditional painting that most Arab artists at the time were taught in Europe.
According to the VCUarts Qatar graduate – who studied a minor in Art History while pursuing his BFA in Painting + Printmaking at VCUarts Qatar – art auctions are a great way to introduce new and young collectors to the field of art collection. And in this case, a reasonably priced one, too.
“In addition to more culturally appropriate processes, customers regularly find our artwork a better bargain as they can avoid the customs, shipping and tax charges that they would have to shell out had they attempted to buy an artwork from abroad,” he says. “Besides, being a local institution, we’ve steadily built a reputation of discerning customer preferences and personalising our services accordingly.”

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