File picture of 'Aidah', designed by Boano Prišmontas and Ricardas Blazukas, and presented at a previous edition of Dubai Design Week. Image used for illustrative purpose only Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Public Art Strategy of Dubai was activated today, January 13, with a Dh2 million inaugural commission and open call for an art installation in a public garden in Al Hudaiba area. The project will be unveiled later this year.

The Strategy comes in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the capital of the global creative economy by 2026. Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) has now begun the implementation of the Strategy that seeks to transform the emirate into an open, accessible and global art gallery whilst supporting the emirate’s creative economy.

Earlier, last January, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, had approved the Public Art Strategy. Dubai Culture, headed by Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Member of the Dubai Council, is leading the artistic movement.


The step confirms Dubai Culture’s keenness to empower creatives and coordinate with various institutions and stakeholders to transform Dubai’s streets, neighbourhoods and public areas into touristic and cultural destinations. The Authority aims to transform Dubai’s public spaces with artwork, sculptures, paintings, murals and art installations that reflect the creative identity of the emirate and generate an interactive social space between artists and the public. This increases art accessibility and establishes a sustainable creative environment, in line with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) that seeks to double Dubai’s GDP by 2033.

Hala Badri

Hala Badri, Director-General, Dubai Culture, said: “Expanding public art is part of Dubai’s vision to become an incubator for creatives from all over the world, promote the spirit of cultural innovation and raise the level of artistic and visual taste in the city. Through this strategy, we seek to create a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, support Dubai’s creative economy, and strengthen partnerships with the private sector.”

Open call

To ensure the success of the Public Art Strategy, the Authority sought to empower the creative community by collaborating with Art Dubai, Tashkeel, Alserkal, Art Jameel, and Akaas Visual Arts, who in turn will undertake the task of issuing open calls to all artists, offering them the platform to participate in presenting a series of unique, site-specific art installations.

Within this content, the Authority announced that it has completed defining the strategy’s roadmap for the distribution of the installations across the emirate, and is launching, in cooperation with Art Dubai, the AED 2 million inaugural commission and open call to all Emirati and UAE-based artists, designers and architects to submit their suggestions, ideas and artistic designs for the first large-scale site-specific installation for “one of Dubai’s most beautiful public gardens” in Al Hudaiba, overlooking the Etihad Museum and Union House, which will be unveiled to the public in late 2023.

Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of Arts and Literature at Dubai Culture, said: “In line with the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, which aims to make Dubai the global capital of the creative economy and increase the cultural and creative industries’ contribution to the national GDP to five per cent by 2026, Dubai Public Art is part of a strategic approach that will foster the growth and sustainability of the city’s cultural ecosystem and creative economy. The displaying of new artistic masterpieces in Dubai’s key locations will celebrate our heritage and promote Dubai’s rapidly developing cultural landscape.”

Bin Kharbash added: “This initiative demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the creative sector and we are proud to collaborate with Art Dubai as an institutional partner for this new landmark commission, given their decade-and-a-half-long expertise in delivering some of Dubai’s largest and most successful cultural moments.”

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The Authority will manage the selection process and production for this first commission in partnership with Art Dubai. Carlo Rizzo, Special Advisor to Dubai Public Art; Maryam Mohammed Mudhaffar, Project Manager in the Museums Department at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; and Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director of Art Dubai are the members of an expert committee who will evaluate the submissions and select the winning proposal.

Separately, Art Dubai, also announced on Friday the opening of applications for the commission. Art Dubai will also dedicate the 10th edition of its flagship education and professional development programme, Campus Art Dubai (CAD), to public art. The annual programme offers a special curriculum that provides UAE-based talents with a platform to develop their artistic skills. CAD Public Art aims to build sector knowledge and capacity in the rapidly growing field of public art commissioning.


All preliminary submissions for the first commission project must be received by 11:59pm UAE time on February 13. Shortlisted artists will be announced at the 16th edition of Art Dubai (March 1 to 5), and each will receive a fee of $5,000 to create a detailed proposal and a prototype or maquette of their pieces. Late 2023 will mark the grand reveal of the winning landmark piece. Full details of the open call are available on the official Dubai Culture and Art Dubai websites and social media pages.

The objectives of the Public Art Strategy are integrated with those of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to improve the quality of life, enhance the emirate’s global competitiveness over the next twenty years, and confirm its position as the best city in the world to live, work and visit.