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Kash Shaikh in front of the #besomebody tag on the rooftop of Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Courtesy Alserkal Avenue
Kash Shaikh in front of the #besomebody tag on the rooftop of Alserkal Avenue, Dubai. Courtesy Alserkal Avenue

Inspirational art movement in Dubai

The online motivational movement #besomebody was in Dubai for 48 hours last week.

At the entrance of Dubai’s urban art district Alserkal Avenue, visitors will be greeted with a new motto. The words Be Somebody have been painted or tagged by the Cincinnati-based graffiti artist Danny Gamble as part of a global movement where a team of four men are travelling around the world to inspire people.

On the rooftops and overlooking the Burj Khalifa, the words have been painted for a second time along with a logo in support of the Expo 2020 bid. Fewer than 48 hours after they arrived in Dubai the #besomebody team were gone, but we did manage to find some time to ask them what it’s all about. Kash Shaikh tell us more.

Why did you found the #besomebody movement?

#Besomebody was a personal mantra of mine that I began sharing nearly five years ago when I wanted to push myself to be better in all aspects of life. At the time, I was leading the communications and social marketing for Procter & Gamble in developing markets and I visited 42 countries over two years.

The irony of travel is that you go so far and see so much, but you end up learning the most about yourself along the way.

I was so inspired by the things I learnt, people I met and the universal truths that connect us all so I started sharing my reflections on social media using the #besomebody hashtag and I began to grow a following. Then I created the #besomebody blog (besomebodyblog.com) where I would write and share my personal observations and emotions. The blog quickly grew an audience, and then grew into a passionate community and today, #besomebody is the fastest growing motivational movement in the world, with more than three million people in 30-plus countries using the hashtag.

What do you mean by a motivational movement?

We create real, raw, inspirational content – from blog posts to photos to videos to other forms of art – that are shared hundreds of thousands of times every week. We don’t tell people what to do, we try to make them feel something. We’re a spark that ignites people’s passions. We’re the punch in the gut when the pat on the back isn’t enough. Everyday we receive thousands of messages from people around the world sharing how #besomebody has motivated them to do what they love or overcome their fears. The power in #besomebody is in its lack of definition. When you define, you confine. There are no limits, borders, or boundaries. It’s yours. And that’s why anything is possible.

What is the philosophy behind “tagging the world”?

We are bringing together two of the most expressive and accessible forms of human communication with social media and street art. We want to create inspirational pieces of art that serve as a spark of motivation to people all over the world. We’re visiting 15 cities across 11 countries on four continents in just six weeks.

Why did you decide to come to Dubai?

Dubai is one of the world’s most iconic and elegant cities, but we wanted to show another side of Dubai. We wanted to reveal the growing artistic and creative aspect of Dubai that is on fire in this imaginative city. We found an oasis of art at Alserkal Avenue, with talented people from around the world helping to take Dubai’s art scene to the next level. We’re so thankful to Abdelmonem Alserkal and his team for opening their arms to us and enabling #besomebody to do what’s never been done before – create two sanctioned and lasting pieces of true graffiti that we hope will inspire the community and the world.

How do you think public art can change or alter a community for the better?

It’s amazing how a moment of intersection with beautiful and inspirational art can affect you. People pass by our #besomebody pieces all over the world and they instantly share their feelings on social media using our hashtag. Their comments on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so many other social networks after seeing our #besomebody graffiti pieces are filled with passion and motivation and emotions that push themselves and those around them. Art is part of the soul in every community, and it’s so important to grow culture. We’re so thankful to Alserkal and the city of Dubai for opening its arms to us.

 

aseaman@thenational.ae

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