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Cultivating the Desert

Koos did research and wrote the film plan and script for the documentary Cultivating the desert by director Michael Krass, about Dubai's desire to become the new art mecca of the world. In collaboration with Wunderbox, AVRO Close Up.

In the spring of 2007 the Sheikh of Dubai announced a plan to promote culture in his emirate. Cultivating the Desert looks at the remarkable emergence of an art scene in Dubai. How can such a phenomenon exist in a country driven by profit, in a region besieged by conflict? Can you import culture?

The aim of the documentary is simple and exciting at the same time. Everyone is making predictions about Dubai becoming the world’s next art hub.


Armed with the apparently simple question ‘Will Dubai become the world’s next art centre?, the documentary goes on a quest for possible answers. From auction houses to artists, curators to art collectors, from gallery owners to art historians, the documentary attempts to look into the future while at the same time register the current art events in Dubai, just as it is all beginning to take place.


Along the way, the original question bumped into other related questions, such as: is art to Dubai just another form of investment? Is it all about money or is there more behind? What does it mean to trade modern art in an Islamic country? Is Dubai an open and tolerant enough country to deal with that? Questions which all try to gave an answer to the underlying question of the documentary, namely, presuming art to be an exponent of culture, can money buy culture?


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