Dubai to dress up with artworks for World Expo

By Eudore R. Chand

DUBAI 7 February 2020: Vibrant art installations are set to adorn public locations across the UAE as part of Expo 2020 Dubai’s new grassroots initiative to highlight the nation’s unique identity.

“My Urban Freej” is a programme of public art that encapsulates the creative spirit, dynamic multiculturalism and strong sense of community in the UAE. Open to everyone in the UAE aged 18 and above, My Urban Freej will be done in collaboration with university arts departments and youth centres across the nation.

A series of workshops will allow aspiring artists and those passionate about art to work with professionals, both local and international, to acquire new skills and collaborate with their peers. Focusing on graffiti, street art, calligraphy and 3D installations, the workshops will run until the end of April 2020. Participants can register here.

A select number of participants will then be offered mentorship and invited to collaborate with professional artists to create stunning public installations that celebrate their community’s journey to The World’s Greatest Show and reflect their “hayyakum” (the Arabic word for “welcome”) spirit.

30 Installations

The final 30 installations will be located in public spaces in all seven emirates, and during the six months of Expo 2020, designs will also appear on the 360-degree projection surface of Al Wasl Plaza.

Manal Al Bayat, Chief Engagement Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “Throughout history, world expos have been a showcase and celebration of art and culture from around the world. My Urban Freej will highlight the talent of the UAE’s creative community and enable them to become part of the legacy of the first expo to be held in the Arab World.”

The emphasis on community and inclusivity is reflected in the programme’s name – “freej” meaning “neighbourhood” in the colloquial Arabic of the Gulf region. Ten artists have been chosen to support the workshops, including Emirati artist, Maitha Demithan, and Saudi calligraffiti artist, Wafi Albakheet.

Demithan said, “We are working to create a powerful visual metaphor for ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, not only between us artists but also with the public, who will be invited to engage with the artworks.”

Albakheet said, “As a participant in this project, I am delighted to have the opportunity to engage with residents of all backgrounds, including students and People of Determination. Together, we will create something truly meaningful.”

Dubai Gazette