Visitors admire the works of Darwin Guevarra and Sandra Surtie among 12 Emirati and UAE based artists at the ‘Outdoor Art Project’ by Dubai Culture. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai has become an open canvas for authorities and real estate developers, who expect to start as early as March to transform the city into an open-air museum.

The concept of Dubai’s open-air museum is to ultimately reshape the way people view the city — not one that has skyscrapers and development projects but one that instils a sense of culture and values.

Speaking to Gulf News, Saeed Mohammad Al Nabouda, Acting Director General at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, explained that the concept of an open-air museum does not limit the city to any particular zone or area, as it will spread across communities as the city continues to expand.

“It is an ongoing campaign so, as Dubai grows, the project will grow as well, and will be activated accordingly,” he said.

The campaign, launched at the end of 2014, was part of the inaugural project of the Government of Dubai Media Office’s initiative Brand Dubai, tasked with the responsibility of making public spaces an open air gallery — street art, installations, photography or sculpture. Officials from Dubai Media Office confirmed that one of the first installations residents will see this year will be part of Dubai Canvas, an annual festival with varying artistic themes each year, which is expected to be launched in March.

Having recently signed an agreement with Wasl Properties, Brand Dubai — the creative arm of Dubai Media Office – is currently supporting the real estate developer in creating public art projects across Dubai. According to reports, the flagship initiative consists of an art project at the Samari Retail community, in which a wall painting that combines traditional Emirati art with modern creative styles will be displayed.

“Every city in the world has museums, but with the concept of an open-air museum, the space is not limited and we want the people to decide what they want to see. It will be an interactive experience with illustrations, and the city will be an open canvas [for artists],” he said.

He pointed out that there will also be an educational aspect to the visual art projects.

While Al Nabouda was keen to point out that “something big will be launched soon,” smaller projects have been launched recently in line with Brand Dubai’s vision of providing art in outdoor venues, such as the launch of the Art at City Walk project in January, a weekend art market dedicated to unique and unusual art.

“Each real estate developer will have different installations that will help in raising awareness about the emirate’s history, and will contribute to residents learning about the artists behind the art,” he said.

Such an initiative will also cater to the growing number of tourists visiting the city, which has so far attracted over 14.2 million in 2015, up 7.5 per cent over 2014, according to Dubai Tourism. The growth in visitor numbers is double the United Nations World Travel Organisation’s (UNWTO) projected 3-4 per cent global travel growth for the same period.

“We want to raise the quality of life through the medium of art, and to do that, we have already started working with different entities to help them infuse art in spaces,” said Al Nabouda.

“It shows Dubai is not just about business and trade, but also art and culture,” he said.