BEIRUT: Last year’s Beirut Art Fair was plagued by security problems. Kidnappings, Syria spillover and assorted travel warnings prevented gallerists and collectors alike from flying in, while those who did make it faced a chronic Internet failure that left everyone from organizers to visitors pulling their hair out in frustration.

As a result, the BAF team decided to change the fair’s timing. Unfortunately, their decision to shift the fourth edition from July to September has not prevented the long shadow of regional politics from falling over proceedings.

This year’s fair opened Thursday at BIEL, with a strong showing by local galleries but a marked decrease in the number of regional exhibitors in attendance and an extremely low return rate. Of the 42 galleries exhibiting at last year’s fair, just 11 returned this year. Eight of these are Lebanese and two Syrian, making the Paris-based Galerie Sophie Lanoe the sole returning international participant. [Link]