What is the Jumeirah Project?
- 30 artworks, including murals and installations, created by Emirati, Arab and international artists, can be seen in the Jumeirah area in Dubai.
- The Jumeirah Project is the fourth phase of the Dubai Street Museum, which is in line with the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum to turn Dubai into an open-air museum.
- Interested artists can contact Brand Dubai to be a part of their future initiatives.
Dubai: Waiting at the traffic light on Jumeirah Beach Road, a 3-D fishing bait pops out at you. Look to the other side, and a girl sits at the feet of a woman, getting her hair braided.
The drive down Jumeirah Road has become an art trip after the area was turned into an open-air museum through the Jumeirah Project.
Launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in November this year, 30 art projects - including murals and installations, have been created by Emirati, Arab and international artists.
Speaking to Gulf News, Shaima Al Suwaidi, City Branding Manager at Brand Dubai, the creative arm of Government of Dubai Media Office, said that the initiative would bring art closer to the community and create opportunities for people to engage with art and creativity at a deeper level.
“This project reflects the leadership’s belief that art plays an important role in both social and economic development,” she said.
The project, according to Shaima, is part of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision to transform Dubai into an open-air museum. The murals are expected to remain for five to ten years.
“The artworks will depict how Jumeirah connects Dubai’s present and past and highlights both its futuristic spirit and rich heritage.
“We hope that projects like these will inspire more local artists to express their talent and attract more international artists to Dubai to showcase their work,” she added.
That seems to be already the case as many young artists from the UAE were able to experience street art for the first time through the Project.
“My experience was great as it gave me and the other artists the opportunity to share and learn from each other and to deliver the messages of people from Jumeirah,” Saggaf Al Hashmi, a UAE-based artist said.
Speaking about his mural, which shows a woman tying a girl’s hair, he added: “My artwork reflects the culture in the UAE and how it used to be in the olden days. It also has some features from the future. This is something that people from the UAE would find touching and it also gives tourists an idea of how life used to be as well.”
While the image of the mother braiding a girl’s hair would take people down memory lane, Al Hashmi said that he also introduced a butterfly in the mural, which depicted new life.
Working on a mural for the first time, however, was a challenge for the artist who usually creates oil paintings on canvas.
“The time we had to finish the mural, which was eight metres by four metres, sounds impossible. I usually take months to finish one oil painting on canvas. But by organising my work and having the support from the organisers, I was able to finish the mural in a week’s time,” he said.
Another challenge was the medium - as the paint was water based, artists had to take on the weather as well.
“It is critical to avoid the rain so as to not spoil the mural while the paint is still wet. On one of the days, we had a strong rain storm come in and we had to wrap things up rapidly. Luckily, no damage was done,” he added.
Another first-time muralist, Latifa Mohammad Jassim, who worked on her artwork with Hamdan Al Falasi, said that the experience of painting on a busy road pushed her out of her comfort zone. As someone who normally paints in a quiet space, the hustle and bustle of Jumeirah Road was challenging but fulfilling, according to Latifa.
“People will remember us through our paintings. Whenever they see these paintings, they will remember that we did them,” she said.
Looking back, she highlights the challenges she had to overcome, including the concrete wall, which was the space she had been given for the mural.
“Because the wall is not smooth, it took a lot longer to fill in all the holes and small patches, we had to do a lot of coats,” Latifa said.
Apart from the surface, the wall she was working on was also one of the longer ones in the Project. Despite these challenges, the experience and ultimate result has encouraged Latifa to pursue painting murals.
“I used to be painting and people would stop their cars to compliment the artwork and ask me about it. The live feedback was very encouraging, and I would definitely like to do more such murals,” Latifa added.
Jumeirah Project is part of the bigger Dubai Street Museum initiative, which started with murals being painted on the 2nd of December Street (formerly Diyafah Street) in 2016. The second phase was in Hatta and the third was on the Dubai Metro pillars on Shaikh Zayed Road. Jumeirah Project is the fourth phase in the Dubai Street Museum project.
“People can see the murals along this road from Dubai canal to Al Naseem hotel,” Shaima added.
Brand Dubai has been working to encourage young artists to display their artwork, Shaima said: “Whoever is interested to be part of our projects, we are here. They can contact us through Instagram, our website - www.branddubai.com - or via email and they can be part of our future projects.”
So, do you want to make Dubai your canvas?