Despite being a very busy businessman as the Deputy Chairman of the Kanoo Group, Mishal Kanoo finds time to cultivate his creative passions, among which is his deep-rooted interest in watches. With a watch being his second most expensive possession after property, he has established that watches are his favourite things to spend money on. His outstanding collection of high-end watches includes the Fine 18k gold and enamel automatic wristwatch by Bovet, the Patek Philippe yellow gold, the Jaeger-Lecoultre 18K pink gold, and the ultrathin 18k gold and enamel openface keyless lever dress watch by Cartier, to name a few.
Seen on the judging panel for Middle East ‘Watch of the Year’ Awards last year, and exalted as an aficionado by the finest watchmakers of our times, there are unique timepieces that have been specially crafted after him, for him. The Benzinger story is worth mentioning here. They were chosen as the designer to add to his rare selection of collector’s pieces, and inspired by the future owner of the watch they created a one-of-a-kind mechanical timepiece – a hand-engraved, hand-skeletonised and hand-guilloché Unitas 6498 with manual winding movement, two-colour gold plating, flame-blued screws and customer initials.
Islamic Art & History
Mishal Kanoo is an eclectic collector of Islamic art and cites artists from all over the Arab world as particular favourites. Ali Omar Ermes (Libya), Abdulla Al-Muharraqi (Bahrain), Nja Mahdaoui (Tunisia) and Abdul Qader Al-Rais (UAE) are but a few names in his stellar collection of rare art and artifacts, like the intricately engraved silver-gilt Ottoman dagger from c. 1800, a signed silk Anatolian Hereke carpet fom c. 1940 and a Persian fine silk Qum carpet.
Mishal Kanoo is one of the strongest forces in Dubai influencing the development and expansion of Dubai’s art culture and is very forthright about his passion for collecting. ‘In an ugly world where I cannot control anything, spreading a bit of beauty is never a bad thing,’ he says. A painting of the Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara by the Bahraini artist Jamal Abdul Raheem adorns his office, revealing the purist in him.
‘Unfortunately most people in the Middle East think of art as an investment. When you invest, you feel no passion [or…] emotion… Art is about passion and irrationality.’