x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Special needs students brighten building site with Dubai’s skyline

About 60 students from the Dubai Centre for Special Needs worked on the painting - a colourful mural depicting Dubai silhouettes.

Special needs girls Maha, left, and Farheen, stand beside painted barriers they help to create at the AMBB site in Dubai. Jaime Puebla / The National
Special needs girls Maha, left, and Farheen, stand beside painted barriers they help to create at the AMBB site in Dubai. Jaime Puebla / The National

DUBAI// Students with special needs have painted a mural to decorate a building site, brightening the neighbourhood and raising money for their school.

About 60 pupils from the Dubai Centre for Special Needs worked on the painting, located off Sheikh Zayed Road by Jones the Grocer.

“It’s been so good for the kids to do this,” said Kirsty Pearson, a teacher at the school. “Art is such a good way to express themselves.”

“I love to paint,” said Maha, 18, from Dubai, who worked on the mural.

The project was sponsored by AMBB, the construction company operating on the site.

The location will eventually house a retail and food outlet, so AMBB suggested a mural that focused on Dubai and food.

“Why not the skyline of Dubai, and let’s put some food inside,” said the art teacher, Toma Gabor.

The result was a colourful mural depicting Dubai silhouettes – famous buildings, the Palm Jumeirah, race horses – each filled with free-form paintings of foods including ice cream, eggplants, cheese and burgers.

“They chose out of a magazine the food that they loved the most,” Ms Pearson said.

Maha, who has Down Syndrome, painted cupcakes. Farheen, 16, an Indian student with a hearing impairment, painted a banana. The two friends posed proudly in front of the mural yesterday.

Wilting in the heat, Farheen jokingly fanned herself with Maha’s ponytail. Later, the girls picked out identical pieces of cake to eat together.

“They are really model students,” Ms Pearson said.

Students between the ages of nine and 20, with a variety of disabilities, worked on the mural, Mr Gabor said. “From low functioning to high functioning, everyone,” he said. “The low functioning were doing the big areas, big strokes, and the high functioning were doing the details.”

The project taught the students about teamwork, how to mix paint colours and how to make art on a large scale, he said.

The mural is made up of about 30 boards, each about two metres high and one metre wide. The students painted the boards at school and they were assembled at the site.

“It’s just a really good reflection of all the work the students can produce at our school,” Ms Pearson said.

In exchange for the students’ work, AMBB made a donation to the school.

“We think other construction companies might want to do this,” said Andrew Wick, AMBB managing partner.

vnereim@thenational.ae