Ayyam Gallery has closed its London and Jeddah branches. Ead Samawi, the director of the gallery and the son of its collector-founder Khaled, says that, in general, “we wanted to refocus our efforts on the Middle East.”
The galleries were reportedly not profitable but, Samawi says, “we look at our business in ten-year cycles and were operational for less than three in London and less than a year in Saudi, so did not give them enough time to judge.”
Khaled Samawi, who had opened spaces in five cities over the past ten years, also had to close in Cairo at the onset of conflicts in 2011. The gallery maintains its space in Beirut and opened a third space in Dubai in late 2015—the second in Alserkal Avenue, in the city’s industrial district, Al Quoz. Khaled says the gallery is focusing on new projects including “a stellar line-up of exhibitions in Dubai and Beirut” as well as collaborations “with several institutions abroad”.
Meanwhile, the gallery has also stopped its auction series, which was launched in Dubai in 2009. Auctions were held in Beirut and in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah as well, but the latter proved disastrous as the Saudi authorities censored most of the works. Khaled decided to call a halt despite the profitability of the series, citing the need “to focus on expanding the international reach of the gallery while strengthening our custodianship programme and non-profit initiatives”.