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June 23, 2021

Our curators and art consultants at ArtpaintingLAB ponder on the values of community art in Dubai amidst social and cultural shifts in the UAE, highlighting the art team’s personal creative journey with the Port View mural project, and explore how communities are adopting public art as a representation of heritage within neighborhoods.

This week our ArtpaintingLAB team has geared up to finalize the work for Port View Al Wasl (Dubai), which consisted of designing and executing several mural artworks reminiscent of the region’s sea life, alongside cultural elements of Bedouin heritage, spanning across the Port View neighborhood of Al-Mina. As the project is nearing its final stages, we are taking a look back at what has made this undertaking at Port View such a special one, a thought which can not be had without also taking into account the community and people whose presence, support, and helping-hand has uplifted our art journey, and has inspired us to leave a long-lasting creative footprint in their loving community.

Above all, the Port View project has opened us up to the bigger conversation around the embrace of art in communities, particular in close-knit locales and spaces present in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates, where art has long been housed in the ethnic fabric of society and has continued to be re-defined along with the
ever-changing cultural influences, and a polytonic wave of city life. Although street art in the United Arab Emirates only gained momentum a few years, it has quickly gathered a following of local artists and personalities both online and offline, making it evident that street art is an expression that not only fosters and drives talent but is also a vision of the city’s culture and creativity.

Considering the fast growth and innovation of Dubai, which continues to attract, inspire and raise the bar for everyone globally, it is naturally expected that new art forms will begin to flourish alongside the increasing developments and influx of cultures in the city. Dubai’s growing acceptance of artistic communities has also become more and more visible, with areas like Dubai Design District and Al Quoz taking the forefront of creative industries by storm. Smaller residential communities have also begun speaking up by embracing public mural art and uplifting local contemporary artists in their private lives.


The Port View project has been a prime example of artwork that exists in a transitional area symbolizing the link between the historical nostalgia and stories of the old Mina Rashid Port in Dubai, and a contemporary lifestyle in a vibrant community. Hence why we have chosen surrealism as a form of expression for the mural series, inspired by the desire to free the viewers from rational boundaries and provide them with the opportunity to tap into their subconscious to project their experiences through a personalized lens.  Motivated by this vision, our team quickly whipped up a utopian and surreal scene that highlights the Al-Mina story, and delivered an intriguing blend of time and space, harmonizing both past and present. 

This is where the Port View community worked its magic. As the weeks went on, and the mural design execution was coming together, it slowly became evident that the visual storyline, continuity, and context of the artwork extended way beyond the walls of the neighborhood, into the playground and surrounding homes, quickly sparking a connection with all its inhabitants and activities. Dabbling with surrealist characteristics, the playful imageries that were birthed from this union portray positive moments that elevate children’s experiences and spark imagination through perspective. Inevitably, our team also found themselves relating to their own childhood experiences, and it became hard not to reminisce on the cultures and places that have shaped us.

This is why, when speaking on the impact of art in communities, it is essential to understand that art is integral to culture, and individuals can benefit from art in various physiological and psychological ways. With art as a form of expression and release, not only can it alleviate stress and daily pressures, but exposure to creative endeavors has proven to make people more open and tolerant of other’s views and opinions.


Likewise, the interactions and social bonds made through art can help increase a community’s social and cultural capital. Art not only drives tourists to cities, attracting a wide range of talents that can help facilitate innovation and grow the economy, but it also helps to preserve a region’s cultural heritage and identity by making it accessible to both locals and tourists alike. From civilians, independent artists, cultural organizations, to businesses and governments, everybody under the sun can benefit from the arts. 


Through arts and the cultivating of art hubs, cities can create communities where members can interact and help each other foster a collaborative and creative spirit. As Port View has shown us, art and its impact on society play a significant role in enabling civil engagement and participation. As citizens slowly transition from just simple spectators into volunteers, the desires to cooperate and aid become evident, and the people and community find themselves slowly gravitating towards each other, a cycle that will allow the art communities of today to continue in the future.

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