ABOUT 421 Arts Campus 

421 Arts Campus is an independent platform dedicated to emerging artists and creative practitioners in the UAE and across the region. A site for research, learning and experimentation, 421 provides a nurturing environment for emergent creative practices and those who want to harness the arts as an agent for social inquiry and transformation. 421 encourages practitioners to explore the potential of public spaces as a means for progress and community engagement through a wide-ranging programmatic model that facilitates artistic exchange and critical dialogue.


Located in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed, 421 presents a year-round program of exhibitions, talks, workshops, special events and educational initiatives that offer accessible learning opportunities to the wider community and the general public. Many of the 421 programs are organized in collaboration with local, regional and international partners, engaging children, students, educators, and creative professionals in a participatory approach to artistic and creative practice. These programs are designed to develop artistic and creative skills, supporting the growth of the UAE’s creative ecosystem.


Previously known as Warehouse421, 421 was established in 2015 inside a renovated warehouse that was repurposed as an exhibition and community space featuring galleries, studios, courtyards, co-working spaces, a library and cafe, and a public, outdoor plaza that serves as a multipurpose venue for film screenings, symposia, performances, art installations, and other special programs. The 421 campus is also home to several permanent art installations commissioned for major exhibitions that were previously presented inside the 421 galleries. Since its establishment, 421 has organized over forty solo and group exhibitions, and more than 1000 public programs across a range of artistic and creative disciplines.


In 2020, the team at 421 began the roll out of an extensive strategic framework (2020-25), that set an ambitious plan to provide the creative community and the wider public with engagement opportunities that break down the rigid categories of creative disciplines, encouraging inter-disciplinary, or anti-disciplinary, engagement. The strategic framework focuses on capacity-building and educational initiatives that give artists and creative practitioners the tools needed to push their practices into deeper realms of critical questioning, confronting new perspectives that expand the boundaries of their work.


A human-centered and nurturing platform, 421 presents an enriching year-round program that brings artists, practitioners, educators, collectives, and people together for greater social transformation.


Yet, social transformation can’t come without the foundational building blocks of openness and connection. Young and early-career practitioners need a place where they can cultivate their creative practices, harnessing artistic disciplines as agents for social inquiry, lifelong learning, and critical reflection.


Today, the UAE’s arts ecosystem is growing faster than ever before. Year after year, a record number of exhibitions take place and creative opportunities for regional talent become more abundant. These opportunities often come from two distinct groups: big-ticket institutions and the commercially focused art market.


As local and regional interest in creative careers continues to grow, we recognize the importance of spaces dedicated to emerging talent. We see a real need for a space that is dedicated to learning and process–one that encourages process over perfection, and experimentation over certainty.


421 is a site for research, education, and the invaluable process of trial and error. 


If you would like to propose a workshop, please use this form.


If you would like to learn more about how to design an effective workshop, check this out this handout!



Throughout the year, the 421 galleries see eight to ten exhibitions solo and group exhibitions that focus on a range of disciplines including visual arts, design and architecture, new media, literary arts and publishing, sound and sonic exploration, and performance. Many of the exhibitions presented are the result of other 421 programs such as the Artistic Development Program and the Curatorial Development Program. A number of off-site exhibitions also take place at partner institutions, offering emerging artists and creative practitioners’ access to new audiences and opportunities for engagement.


Every season, the 421 public program presents an extensive calendar of workshops, courses, talks, film screenings, excursions, and special events that are designed to immerse audiences in hands-on experiences that develop artistic and creative skills and encourage cultural exchange. Responding to themes and topics addressed in the exhibitions on view, the 421 public programs promote deeper interaction and engagement with the arts.



The 421 capacity building programs support artists and creative practitioners who have a sustained artistic practice or interest in creative disciplines. Often involving juries made up of locally and regionally based arts professionals, as well as pedagogical partners that contribute to the curricula, the capacity building programs function as a launching pad for the career development of young and emerging practitioners. Those programs are open to participation of students, recent graduates and early-career practitioners interested in visual arts, design and architecture, film, new media, literary arts and performance.



Originally conceived as an onsite initiative, the Homebound Residency Program emerged as a response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. The program, which was created to support the work of artists and creative practitioners across the MENASA region, was reconfigured to address the needs of artists during the global crisis. Facing isolation from their communities, the 6-month-long online program provided a platform for artists to explore digital modes of connection and engagement.


Participants, spanning diverse creative disciplines such as visual arts, design, literature, music, culinary arts, theater, and performance, were invited to pursue questions about community spaces, urban planning, architecture, and public art. The program offered residents curatorial guidance and production support, empowering them to realize their projects while working remotely. 


Over a period of three years, the program has successfully brought together over 20 artists, curators, arts professionals, mentors, and cultural workers, and has culminated in the production of diverse projects, spanning from contemporary media artworks to capacity-building and infrastructural initiatives benefiting the arts community at large.


The Homebound Residency program has now concluded. The exhibition Network Culture, which ran from February to April 2024, marked the conclusion of the program. 


Previous Homebound Residency Program participants include: Yara Asmar, Rand Abdul Jabbar, Mona Ayyash, BaRiya, Raghvi Bhatia, Nihaal Faizal, Kimia Collective (Chahine Fellahi and Kaïs Aïouch), Batool Desouky and Zain Mahjoub, Engy Mohsen, Roger Mokbel, Fatma Belkıs and Onur Gökmen, Mahshid Rafiei, Ayesha Singh, and Salem Al Suwaidi.


Their projects can be viewed on following links: 




The Residency Program supports creative practitioners interested in experimenting with social and community engagement as part of their practice. The five-month program takes place in person at the 421 Art Campus artist studios and is designed for the creative community at large. The residency is multidisciplinary in focus and is open to practices in visual arts and curation, design and technology, music, literary arts, culinary arts, performance and theater, and other creative disciplines. The residency will bring together three successful applicants for each cohort of the program.  

This new 421 Residency Program originates from our former Homebound Residency Program, one that is no longer running as we shift to an in-space approach at our new artist studios.



The 421 Artistic Research Grant supports practice-based research investigating contemporary social questions through interdisciplinary methodologies and active engagement with the researcher’s community. While this is not an academic grant, a strong interaction with the historical, geographical, and intellectual context of a grantee’s topic and medium is expected.


Grantees are required to produce a textual outcome detailing the research process and are encouraged to conceive of other formats of research expression as part of 421’s effort to promote a wider dissemination of knowledge. This can include, but is not limited to performances, school or public programming, symposia, or exhibitions.


Visit our opportunities page for more information about the Artistic Research Grant.



The 421 Artistic Development Program is an exhibition process that emphasizes the professional and creative development of its participating artists. Conceived as a commissioning exhibition, participating artists are supported by experienced art educators and/or a senior curator from the region, along with the 421 team, through a structured educational model of production, towards a polished exhibition of high caliber.


This program opens opportunities to UAE-based artists with rigorous and sustained practices and allows them space to continue to experiment. It also encourages artists to think deeply about the reception of their work in a public institution and the connection, communication, and multidimensional interaction with their communities and the ways different communities interact with their exhibition.



The 421 Curatorial Development Program is an exhibition process that emphasizes the professional and creative development of its curators. Supported by the 421 team and an expert pedagogical partner, the program aims to support emerging local and regional curators who are pushed here to hone their practice holistically and to build a well-rounded skill set that aids them in crafting each facet of a successful exhibition.


The program features a hybrid of practical and theoretical pedagogical structure that pushes for the understanding of spatial and operational decisions not as secondary to the exhibition’s curatorial concepts, but rather as equally essential to the exhibition’s content, a reflection of and a tool for the curatorial premise to be further explored. The program aims to create a community of young and emerging curators who can contribute to the UAE’s cultural ecosystem in meaningful ways.



The learning programs at 421 promote access and engagement with creative disciplines among children, students and youth of all skill levels and backgrounds. The programs include interpretive and interactive tools that make exhibitions more accessible to children and audiences of determination, such as tactile experiences, audio guides and in-gallery activity guides. The learning programs at 421 also include special workshops and courses designed for youth, teens, and university students, as well as the annual internship and mentorship program, preparing young art professionals for a career in the arts. The annual docents’ program trains young creative practitioners to give exhibition tours to children, families, schools, and visitors, developing their interpersonal skills and knowledge around contemporary art history. Other initiatives led include the 421 reading room program, which encourages young researchers and academics to participate in discussions about their in-process projects with wider audiences. 


These initiatives are developed in partnership with Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge, SEDRA Foundation for Inclusion, New York University Abu Dhabi, and Zayed University, to ensure that the programs meet the specific learning needs among youth.



The Reading Room at 421 features publications, as well as a variety of books related to art history, critical theory, poetry, and experimental work. The Reading Room is a perfect space for those who need a quiet and creative place to study or work from. To view the full collection of books and publications available at the Reading Room, please visit: https://library.dct.gov.ae/en/



Located inside our space, Dukkan421 is a design store inspired by the architectural themes of 421 and Mina Zayed. Dukkan421 features products that reflect our commitment to fostering local and regional talent, including a wide selection of publications, homeware, stationery, and other unique products. Dukkan421 is the perfect stop for all who are in search for a unique, curated selection of designs by regional creatives. It is a dynamic store that fosters learning, engagement, and cultural understanding.

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