Dubai enriches its visual identity via the Public Art Strategy

In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the best city in the world and strengthen its position on the global cultural map and a capital of the global creative economy by 2026, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), has begun the implementation of Dubai’s Public Art Strategy that seeks to transform the emirate into an open, accessible and global art gallery, offering exceptional artistic experiences that enhance visual culture and the spirit of innovation and contributing to enriching the region’s cultural and artistic scene whilst supporting Dubai’s creative economy.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, approved the Public Art Strategy last year in January, and Dubai Culture, headed by Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Member of the Dubai Council, leads an inspiring artistic movement in line with Dubai’s cultural vision to cement the emirate’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity and a thriving hub for talent.

This step confirms Dubai Culture’s keenness to empower creatives and coordinate with various institutions and stakeholders to transform Dubai’s streets, neighbourhoods and public areas into touristic and cultural destinations. The Authority aims to transform Dubai’s public spaces with artwork, sculptures, paintings, murals and art installations that reflect the creative identity of the emirate and generate an interactive social space between artists and the public. This increases art accessibility and establishes a sustainable creative environment, in line with the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33) that seeks to double Dubai’s GDP by 2033.
A unique cultural environment

Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture, affirmed the significance of achieving the Public Art Strategy’s objectives, which contributes to the development of Dubai's art scene and provides it with distinct and inspiring experiences, saying: “The importance of this strategy lies in its ability to establish a unique cultural and artistic environment within Dubai. The strategy reflects the features of Dubai’s identity and the richness of its art scene, in addition to its role in supporting cultural tourism and making it a key source of the creative economy.”

Badri added: “Expanding public art is part of Dubai’s vision to become an incubator for creatives from all over the world, promote the spirit of cultural innovation and raise the level of artistic and visual taste in the city.”

Badri stated that activating the Public Art Strategy represents the Authority’s backing for creatives and private sector institutions, saying: “Through this strategy, we seek to create a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship, support Dubai’s creative economy, and strengthen partnerships with the private sector. We aim to extend bridges of cooperation, empower artists, and enhance their presence on the art scene, which helps make Dubai a global icon and a unique model for cities of the future.”

  • Open Call

To ensure the success of the Public Art Strategy, the Authority sought to empower the creative community by collaborating with Art Dubai, Tashkeel, Alserkal, Art Jameel, and Akaas Visual Arts, who in turn will undertake the task of issuing open calls to all artists, offering them the platform to participate in presenting a series of unique, site-specific art installations.

Within this content, the Authority announced that it has completed defining the strategy’s roadmap for the distribution of the installations across the emirate, and is launching, in cooperation with Art Dubai,  the AED 2 million inaugural commission and open call to all Emirati and UAE-based artists, designers and architects to submit their suggestions, ideas and artistic designs for the first large-scale site-specific installation for one of Dubai's most beautiful public gardens in Al Hudaiba, overlooking the Etihad Museum and Union House, which will be unveiled to the public in late 2023.

Dr. Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of Arts & Literature at Dubai Culture, said: “In line with the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, which aims to make Dubai the global capital of the creative economy and increase the cultural and creative industries' contribution to the national GDP to 5% by 2026, Dubai Public Art is part of a strategic approach that will foster the growth and sustainability of the city's cultural ecosystem and creative economy. The displaying of new artistic masterpieces in Dubai’s key locations will celebrate our heritage and promote Dubai's rapidly developing cultural landscape.”

Bin Kharbash added: “This initiative demonstrates our commitment to strengthening the creative sector and we are proud to collaborate with Art Dubai as an institutional partner for this new landmark commission, given their decade-and-a-half-long expertise in delivering some of Dubai’s largest and most successful cultural moments.”
The Authority will manage the selection process and production for this first commission in partnership with Art Dubai. Carlo Rizzo, Special Advisor to Dubai Public Art; Maryam Mohammed Mudhaffar, Project Manager in the Museums Department at Dubai Culture and Arts Authority; and Benedetta Ghione, Executive Director of Art Dubai are the members of an expert committee who will evaluate the submissions and select the winning proposal. 

All preliminary submissions must be received by 23:59 UAE time on 13 February 2023.  Shortlisted artists will be announced at the 16th edition of Art Dubai on 1-5 March, and each will receive a fee of $5,000 to create a detailed proposal and a prototype or maquette of their pieces. Late 2023 will mark the grand reveal of the winning landmark piece. Full details of the open call are available on the official Dubai Culture and Art Dubai websites and social media pages.

The objectives of the Public Art Strategy are integrated with those of the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan, which aims to improve the quality of life, enhance the emirate's global competitiveness over the next twenty years, and confirm its position as the best city in the world to live, work and visit.

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