x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

New beating art for streets of Al Quoz in Dubai

Plans for an open-air art festival submitted to Dubai municipality and the RTA.

Ruben Sanchez, street artist, with his art work at Bastikiya in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
Ruben Sanchez, street artist, with his art work at Bastikiya in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // A plan to brighten up the drab footpaths of the Al Quoz industrial area with street art has attracted support from 30 artists so far.

A proposal for an open-air "night art festival" in Al Serkal Avenue, which has become home to independent art galleries in converted warehouses and industrial space over the past few years, will be submitted to authorities next month.

It is the first step in what organisers behind the Al Quoz Beautification Project hoped would be a proliferation of street art around the area's maze of factories, warehouses and labour camps.

"We want to give some colour to Al Quoz, to the people who live there and work there," said Maria Urrutia, the project's organiser.

"We want to take the art out of the galleries and make it available for everyone, so all the public can see."

Among the talent to have signed up for the project are the British artist Sya One and the Argentine street artist Ruben Sanchez.

In Dubai - as in most cities - graffiti is considered vandalism and offenders can be punished with fines or even jail time and deportation. Street art works require permission from building owners and the municipality.

But there are a handful of artists who get around those rules by painting only on temporary structures, such as construction boards.

If the planned night art festival is successful, the next project would be a month-long sculpture exhibition across Al Quoz.

The life-size sculptures would include positive words such as "smile", which artists hoped would improve the community's mood.

"We want to have them on the sidewalk," said Ms Urrutia. "Then after a month, we would auction the sculptures and with that money hopefully have art workshops for labourers.

"They want a good life but they don't have the money to take art classes. They could sell their work and get some money."

The night art festival is planned to take place in November but Ms Urrutia said she would have to wait for approval from the municipality and the Roads and Transport Authority, as the street would be blocked for the night.

"Everything depends on them now," she said.