Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 November 2019

Dubai street artists have bright idea to support Ramadan fridge sharing campaign

Colourful designs in keeping with the Ramadan spirit are helping to draw extra attention to community initiative

Stainz is one of a number of street artists using their creative talents to support the annual Ramadan fridge sharing scheme. Reem Mohammed/The National
Stainz is one of a number of street artists using their creative talents to support the annual Ramadan fridge sharing scheme. Reem Mohammed/The National

Fridges used as part of a community-spirited campaign to help feed hungry workers during Ramadan have been given a cool makeover by street artists in Dubai.

The Sharing Fridges initiative first got up-and-running four years ago a a way to serve up support to low-paid labourers during the holy month.

A project starting out with just a few fridges around the city has grown to a movement of more than 200 appliances stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables and drinks for workers at apartment blocks, hotels, businesses and schools

Now a collective of artists inspired by global street graffiti have turned their spray cans on those fridges, with images of their work gaining popularity on social media.

Mum-of-two, Anne Mulcahy, got involved with the project four years ago by putting a fridge in a friend’s porch.

“A fridge in the Meadows can be used by 200 people a day,” she said.

“Each fridge has its own community that it is used by, such as labourers, delivery drivers, gardeners or cleaners and maids.

“Some of the busiest are on construction sites, particularly during a shift change.

“It important for us to show our gratitude to those less fortunate people who are working tirelessly to make our lives better.”

There are more than 200 fridges operating in Dubai, and about 40 schools are involved in the project.

A key aspect of the initiative is to have someone managing the fridge at all times, to meet and greet those using it.

As a result, some only operate in the mornings and evenings when people are home from work.

“The first year we did this, a gardener said it was the first time he did not feel transparent, as people were talking to him.”

Anna Mulcahy, sharing fridges volunteer.

Stainz is one of the street artists who worked on a Ramadan fridge in Silicon Oasis.

He is part of a small team of artists working on brightening up the project.

Their work is posted on Instagram, under the profile @fridgeartindxb.

“Some fridge owners give us the freedom to create, others want a specific Ramadan theme,” said Stainz.

“There are five artists working on the Dubai project. Each has their own style.”

Stainz, who works in a cattery and has been in Dubai for eight years, is hoping to develop a project in Silicon Oasis to develop a three metre wall specifically for community street art.

“In most cities you can see street art everywhere, but not in Dubai as it is not allowed,” he said.

Young volunteer Lara Kunsleben with street artist Sainz, who has given the fridge outside her home a bright new look in keeping with the Ramadan spirit. Reem Mohammed/The National
Young volunteer Lara Kunsleben with street artist Sainz, who has given the fridge outside her home a bright new look in keeping with the Ramadan spirit. Reem Mohammed/The National

‘If you travel around the world and see spontaneous works of art, people stop and take a photo.

“It gives people positivity and makes them feel good.

“Street art is a touchy subject, as it is the same sub-culture as graffiti.”

Ms Mulcahy, who is French, said the response to the fridges and the artwork has been huge.

“The interaction is making a big difference,” she said.

“The first year we did this, a gardener said it was the first time he did not feel transparent, as people were talking to him.”

An online map on the Ramadan sharing fridge Facebook page indicates the nearest fridge where people can drop off food.

The most popular items are juice drinks, soda, water and laban.

While fruit like bananas, apples, oranges, grapes, watermelon in portions, and vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers and onions are also in demand.

Dry food such as dates, biscuits, nuts and crisps are also popular, but hot and cooked food cannot be accepted.

Silvia Kunsleben’s daughter, Lara, manages a fridge sprayed by Stainz in Silicon Oasis when she is home from school.

“This is my fourth year with the fridge, it’s a great opportunity to give back to the community,” said Silvia.

“It took some time to get ours noticed as it is off the main street, but we have regular guests now.

“There are a lot of supermarkets and laundry services near us, so guys on delivery motorcycles often stop to use our fridge.”

The fridge is easily accessible and donors can call in at any time to donate food.

Silvia said the Facebook group has helped involved more people from the community.

“Lara wanted something girly, so the artist who painted our fridge used pink and purple colours and she loves it,” she said.

Updated: May 13, 2019 10:23 AM

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