Discover open-air artwork in the city
From sculptures to street art, Dubai’s varied and vast public spaces provide fabulous locations for art and installations, much of it on show 24 hours a day. Take a stroll around the vibrant La Mer and City Walk districts or go further afield to Karama and discover an alternative side to the city’s street arts scene.
On this spacious boulevard, a short walk from Dubai Opera and Burj Khalifa, is an impressive collection of large sculptures. The works draw on themes close to the heart of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai: equestrian life, desert landscapes, and the strength of the local community. The Wings of Mexico by artist Jorge Marin perfectly captures soaring ambition, optimism and connectivity between cultures. Other must-sees are Donald Greig’s playful Camels, and Together by Syrian artist Lutfi Romhein which features stylised sculptures of an Arab man and woman, in granite and marble – black and white – like giant chess pieces.
Jumeirah Beach Road
One of the city’s most famous roads have been given a new lease of life with spectacular works of art by 30 local and international artists. A few of the pieces, hidden in plain sight in tucked-away alleys, are a celebration of life in the city. Murals of children playing traditional games and Arabian dhows sailing across the seas can be found mere metres from abstract wonders such as Bicycamel by Barcelona-based artist Ruben Sanchez.
Local developer Meraas wanted to introduce street art to the City Walk development and brought in 15 of the best street artists from all over the world as part of the Dubai Walls initiative. The mostly large scale (but sometimes miniature) creations add an enticing extra element to City Walk, with works that are surprising, innovative, and sometimes confronting. From D*Face’s provocative ‘aPOPcalyptic’ technique to Blek Le Rat’s delightful stencils, Ron English’s vivid ‘wildstyle’ and Australian artist RONE’s evocative portraits, there is something for every taste.
With its picturesque setting, complete with a lake and serene walking trails, The Yard is great place to spend the day with the family. Restaurants here feature the best in al fresco and indoor dining, and there’s a real creative buzz about the place. Inspired by the agricultural roots of its neighbourhood, Al Khawaneej, murals here marry the human element with colourful flora and fauna. A highlight here is the painting of a young woman wearing a floral battoulah with real flowers forming her hair.
An ode to urban creativity, La Mer is an open-air gallery featuring striking graffiti murals and unique decorative art by the beach. Dubai’s sun, sea and sand wonderland presents a kaleidoscope of colour with large wall paintings that feature everything from telephones and camels to feathered wings and retro icons. Don’t miss the giant mural of a child wearing heart-shaped sunglasses with the message ‘stay cool’.
Murals reflecting the city’s essence and aspirations have popped up on pillars of the Dubai Metro, between the DIFC and Emirates Towers stations. The works of two international artists – Peruvian Daniel Cortez and Miami-based artist 'Evoca1' – are inspirational, with highlights including the painting of an astronaut hanging from the strings attached to a bunch of planets, as well as a giant floating jellyfish installation.
Bustling Karama, bordering Bur Dubai and Oud Metha, is one of the city’s older neighbourhoods. Home to everything from small stores selling all manner of fashion and accessories to delectable Indian street food, this is a district with plenty of heart. In 2016, eight street artists unveiled 24 huge murals on the side of 12 apartment buildings and shops in the busy district, boosting the buzz.
Jumeirah Beach Residences
Take a stroll along The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR) and discover unique 3D paintings splashed across buildings, street corners and even staircases. Big, bold and bright, there’s plenty to discover thanks to the the incredible artists from around the world that made their mark in this popular district back in 2016 for the Dubai Canvas 3D art festival. Highlights include a giant swooping eagle and a colourful mural of prancing horses in the sea.
The Dubai Street Museum, is an avant garde initiative aims to transform parts of the emirate into an open air art gallery. In the first phase of the project, 12 artists from around the world painted 16 murals along several buildings of the historically significant 2nd December Street in Satwa. Each of the artworks showcase the UAE’s rich history and culture, with themes such as the traditional wooden abra boats that are still found in the historic Creek area, and Arabic coffee ceremonies that remain intrinsic to Arabian hospitality.