There is very little street art in Dubai. I should rephrase that. I have seen very little street art in Dubai. A quick Google search unearthed a plethora of stuff that you can see here: Street Art Gallery and recent articles about the art form blooming in the city.
Even though this is the start of my third year here, sometimes I feel like I am just beginning to crack the surface. Peel back the layers of a gold, Swarovski encrusted onion.
Dubai is very clean overall. In the swanky neighborhoods there is a constant flux of workers picking up trash. Public bathrooms are typically spotless. Cleaners are a constant ever-present fixture of the background. At my school they work in a succession of 12 hour shifts, so are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Older grittier parts of Dubai, places with less sheen, do exist. Where I live in Discovery Gardens, the taxi drivers huddle around the Pakistani restaurant Sarhad Dubar, smoking, chatting and casually tossing their Styrofoam tea cups to the sandy ground. And on a regular basis, a swarm of workers, in bulky green suits, are sent out to gather up the debris.
I think the lack of street art is one of those things that makes the city seem artificial to Europeans, as discussed a few posts back. Graffiti is an obvious feature of major cities. In Zagreb, Croatia, it often made me sad the way the bottom 10 feet of many beautiful buildings were covered in unattractive tags. People just scrawling their names. In Lisbon, Portugal, it made me happy to see such amazing, artistic, creative graffiti, which can be classified as street art. It adds life and vibrancy.
For the past two years that I have come home from work, and passed this plain, gray, unassuming box, I have wondered why this message has never been erased:
Even though this is not an image, like the kind of pictures that have stopped me in my tracks, there is something interesting and magical about it.
Maybe I’ve watched and read too much sci-fi or fantasy, but I’m happy the message stays.