A Look At Dubai's Growing Street Art Scene

Artwork by Blek Le Rat at City Walk, Dubai, UAE
Artwork by Blek Le Rat at City Walk, Dubai, UAE
Erina Baftiroska

The Dubai Municipality is indulging in the city’s burgeoning artistic movements: empowered by its residents, along with creative minds from all around the world, street art is the latest visual art form to permeate this Emirati cityscape, sanctioned and funded by the local government.
In addition to the various art galleries, exhibitions, and art festivals that have popped up around the city in recent years, the Dubai Municipality has taken a creative turn. Organized alongside property developers, artists were invited to spice up the city walls.
In the past, street art was featured on temporary walls at street events but never on permanent structures. The projects have not only brought color into the city and onto the walls, but have also contributed to a significant change in what is considered art. While traditional, accepted forms of art and expression such as painting, photography, design, music, and poetry have been featured around the city for years, these projects have given artists real space and time, allowing the street art movement to flourish.

The biggest project, Dubai Walls, was rolled out at City Walk Dubai. Just a few minutes’ ride from Downtown Dubai, the outdoor shopping, dining, and residential area has the city’s largest collection of street art put together by the industry’s biggest names. Works from Blek Le Rat, Beau Stanton and London Police can be found just around the corner from each other. The project was responsible for bringing together artists, developers and residents, and introducing something new to the city, inspiring people to redefine their perceptions of Dubai.

A second, lesser-known project was undertaken by Wasl Properties, a UAE-based development company. It gave Al Karama, one of Dubai’s oldest neighborhoods, a makeover, turning the Karama Shopping Complex into a canvas overnight. Local and international artists were invited to leave their mark, with creative freedom to pull out all the stops. The multi-building complex stands as a landmark shopping destination and now as a street art gallery, adding a new dimension to an old area of Dubai.

This openness to artistic expression has received a warm welcome from the city’s residents, as more projects have been introduced in residential areas. Taking a walk from City Walk to The Walk in JBR, and you’ll discover many more murals by local artists decorating the town.

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