Students at Zayed Bin Sultan School in Satwa paint over graffiti on Wednesday as part of Dubai Municipality's recently launched anti-graffiti campaign called "Clean Walls... Beautiful City", organised by the Waste Management Department. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: The civic body aims to have a wall dedicated to students to paint murals and express themselves instead of spray painting public property.

Speaking on the sidelines at Wednesday’s launch of the anti-graffiti campaign “Clean Walls…Beautiful City” at Zayed Bin Sultan School in Satwa, Hamda Al Murr, head of the awareness campaign, told Gulf News that the municipality aims to change the mindset of children and encourage them to respect the city’s streets.

“By September, we intend to launch the second phase of the campaign and that includes choosing a wall in a park and encouraging children to paint on it. If children have a dedicated area [to paint on], it will reduce the problem of graffiti on school grounds and other buildings,” said Hamda. “We are still in the process of choosing a park that is easily accessible from all areas, but intend to have it all mapped out by the beginning of the school year,” she said.

The anti-graffiti campaign will continue over the next three weeks and target 20 private and public schools, primarily targeting boys between eight and 18 years old.

Abdul Majeed Saifaie, director of Dubai Municipality’s Waste Management Department, pointed out that although the problem of graffiti is not a widespread one, the most common places it can be found is in school grounds.

“We will be distributing paint and brushes to school students throughout the campaign, and encourage children to repaint over the graffiti. In this way, they will understand the tedious task that property owners have in keeping their walls clean, and they will think twice before damaging the walls,” said Saifaie.

‘This campaign will focus on the role of students in maintaining a clean city, as our studies show that 80 per cent of wall drawings are done by school students. There are several types of writing on walls including artistic graffiti, anti-ethic writing, indecent writings, graphics, sports zeal, commercials, symbols and flirtatious phrases,” he said.

He added the most schools sprayed with graffiti were found at Al Ghusais, Hor Al Anz and Satwa, but the campaign has also branched out to schools in residential areas to spread the message across the city.

“We are spreading awareness among children because they are the future, and can keep this sense of social responsibility with them as they grow older,” he said.

Throughout the campaign inspectors will monitor various areas to prevent vandalism, and according to Saifaie, offenders will face a fine of Dh500. In addition to distributing educational pamphlets, a number of lectures will also be delivered throughout schools on the financial costs that schools and other establishments face when cleaning up graffiti.