Installation view of Abu Dhabi Art 2013. Courtesy Cool Box Photography.

- Such is my excitement about this edition of Abu Dhabi Art that I am writing this piece on the opening day!

The iconic Foster-designed Pavilion at the Manarat Al Saadiyat buzzed last night with the biggest crowd yet to arrive for the VIP preview of this annual art event. Fifty galleries from around the world brought carefully curated exhibitions that by now understand local tastes and appreciation. A few new sections added to the variety of offerings - 'Artists' Waves' focuses on the discovery and re-discovery of artists; a Souq allows designers and craft-makers to present works through demonstrations and interactive displays which mostly highlight the unique materiality and aesthetics of the UAE; and Fabrice Bousteau has curated a series of 'Art, Talks and Sensations,' that include outdoor art, music and video screenings.

Installation view of Abu Dhabi Art 2013. Courtesy Cool Box Photography.

With a 91 percent return rate of galleries, and seemingly 100 percent visitor loyalty, Abu Dhabi Art has firmly established itself as an annual fixture on the global art calendar. For my own part, I was captivated by some exceptional works of museum quality (Tina Keng's Chinese artist Zao Wou-Ki), a superb Louise Bourgeois, and a covetable Joan Mitchell (at Edward Nahem Tyler) alongside some mid-range works at October Gallery in the $10,000 range which should be snapped up at the drop of a hat. Of course, the beautiful El Anatsuis were equally divine and other well-known artists vied for attention with the growing popularity of regional talent. Athr Gallery, Ayyam (launching Nadim Karam's new book of which I will be buying at least a dozen copies!), Sfeir-Semler, Leila Heller and Meem all are showing wonderful offerings, leaving visitors with a feast of choices. I don't imagine the crates will be over-full when the galleries start shipping back.

Tea and shisha after the Sotheby’s Collector’s Lunch

Sothebys collaborated with the Fair as in previous years. On 18 November, Mark Poltimore gave a well-attended lecture arranged by ADMAF on Orientalist art at the Majlis of leading art patron HH Sheikha Sheikha bint Seif Al Nahyan, and yesterday nearly 80 guests filled the beautiful Majlis of HH Sheikh Nahayan bin Mabarak Al Nahyan for a Sotheby’s Collectors Lunch. Art personalities and figures such as the Guggenheim's Richard Armstrong, collector Baron Guy Ullens de Schooten, UAE visitor Peter Mandelson, Fair-regular Comtesse de Beaumont, collector Paula Cussi, and many others came together to savour the extraordinary hospitality of His Highness the UAE Culture Minister.

Mark Politmore of Sotheby’s greets Venetia Porter of the British Museum.

Mrs Cantonnet & Olivier Mestelan

Lina Lazar of Sotheby’s, Maryam Massoudi & Paula Cussi

Edward Gibbs of Sotheby’s, Hessam Sadat-Tehrani & Zeynep Ayhan Sicimoglu

Hessam Sadat-Tehrani, Roxane Zand of Sotheby's, Farah Sadat Tehrani, Bahareh Amidi and Elif Bayoglu of Sotheby's