After recent well-received announcements by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum about transforming Dubai’s metro stations into hubs of creativity, His Highness launched the boldest campaign yet – #DubaiSpeakstoYou, a joint venture between Brand Dubai and the private property sector to provide public spaces for artists to use as their “canvas”.

In a recent announcement at the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), Sheikh Mohammed addressed a group of young artists, giving them a very passionate and encouraging directive to “make your city into an open air museum.”

This is not the first major undertaking to transform public spaces in the UAE – The Beach at JBR has been a massively successful venture incorporating private developments and public space, and three more ground-breaking projects are on the cards, namely the Al Fayah Park in Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s Creek and canal projects. It’s seems that Dubai is shifting it’s focus from a city ‘under construction’ to a more ‘settled’ phase and as such it’s visitors and residents need to be able to recognise and participate in the change. As Mona Ghanem Al Marri, the Director General of GDMO said: “Public spaces are the essence of the look and feel of a city and this is why we are launching this project. We want people to experience Dubai’s dynamism and this is where the talent of all those in attendance today comes in.”

Because so many of Dubai’s spaces are owned and managed by private real estate developers it was essential for this to be a collaborative effort between them and Brand Dubai. So far Nakheel, Meydan, Emaar, Dubai Holding and Meraas Holding have all agreed to provide prime locations to UAE artist to create multi-disciplinary art. Brand Dubai will act as facilitator between the developers and artists and together the three bodies will draw up a set of criteria for the proposed works.

Ms Ghanem Al Marri also made it clear that this was an inclusive project, open to all UAE residents be they local or expats who “contribute to making Dubai a rich cultural mosaic.”

She also made mention of the importance of this project in terms of a burgeoning and highly lucrative tourism industry. This is part of a greater long-term plan to establish Dubai as the world’s top travel hub and tourism destination. She explains:  “Other than a city’s architectural landmarks, and we have plenty of those, the true soul of a city is its culture, its heritage, its creators and innovators.”

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