Dubai’s emerging street art scene is flourishing! Tourists visiting the region will be impressed to discover street art, which lately has become more socially acceptable in Dubai. The city now offers a legal venue for this artistic expression within rules.
Dubai has an emerging and divergent movement of “street-writers” and “graffiti artists” (spray-painting) that has been slowly gaining recognition. Street art has become an acceptable art form in the city and has been actually used to improve the look of some areas. Artists have been able to let their creativity and imagination roam freely at designated places. Today, Dubai is the only UAE city where graffiti art is not just legal, but encouraged in some specific outdoor locations and indoor exhibition spaces, such as Dubai’s Street Art Gallery (streetartdubai.ae).
Graffiti are illegal in the United Arab Emirates, as they are normally associated with urban decay and defacing of urban buildings or monuments; those who get caught by police can be arrested under the heritage protection mechanisms and anti-vandalism laws. However, times are changing and legally sanctioned projects covering surfaces with mural images are now appearing.
Some may recall the effort of over 100 renowned street artists around world that Painted the World’s Longest Graffiti Mural; in 2014, they created the longest scroll ever, with a length of 2245.40 meters. With that piece of art, the UAE broke the world record as announced by Guinness World Record team.
From that time forward, “street art has exploded in popularity in Dubai over the past few years, though it’s found mostly indoors, in art galleries or private exhibition halls,” reports Jon Jensen, CNN. Yet, the city has come to display more of this artwork, as Jane Aldersley wrote in ‘The National’, “out in the open”. Graffiti as “street art,” are “slowly increasing [in] acceptance [as] truly contemporary art form,” she said.
The project called “Dubai Walls” hopes to capitalize on this trend, as of March 2016, with approval and funding that comes from Meraas – a Dubai-based holding company, which is owned by Dubai’s rulers. As a matter of fact, the company invited more than a dozen of the world’s greatest street artists representing five continents to come together in the emirate to kick off Dubai Walls (dubaiwalls.com) to transform public spaces into permanent street art exhibitions.
Dubai Walls Street Art Project (see video – 1:45 mins) will display artwork all across ‘City Walk’ in Jumeirah and turn this area into a unique art hub; this open-air public gallery will highlight the artists’ talents within the street art style. Dubai Walls aims to start a new phase with other urban art projects to be done around the city. One can expect, in the near future, new murals by other artists who may also be appointed to carry out their creations. Time will tell if other projects will unfold in the UAE.
The Dubai Walls endeavor will allow artists to draw graffiti within certain parameters according to the project’s interests. For them, it will be an opportunity to showcase their signature styles or to try out new techniques. Their artwork will become part of the landscape and will not compromise the aesthetic of the area. These sanctioned graffiti will be very far from the uncontrolled street art drawings that many associate with urban decay to contribute instead to the beauty and décor of the city. It will be street art at its best by the best.