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, as it prepares to welcome millions of people from around the world.
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 work 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. To register, visit https://www.expo2020dubai.com/myurbanfreej
A select number of workshop participants will then be offered a 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.
The final 30 installations will be located in public spaces in all seven emirates, forming a fun art hunt for people of all ages to explore. During the six months of Expo 2020, designs will also appear on the 360-degree projection surface of Al Wasl Plaza, an architectural wonder at the heart of the Expo site.
Manal AlBayat, Chief Engagement Officer, Expo 2020 Dubai, said: “With less than nine months to go until our gates open to the world, we are continuing to engage with people across the country and offering exciting opportunities for them to be part of this incredible national project. Through My Urban Freej, public art installations will be created by the community, for the community, both local and international, reinforcing that the arts – and Expo 2020 – are for everyone to enjoy.
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’ means ‘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.
Maitha 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.”
Wafi Albakheet said: “As a participant in this project, I’m 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.”
To register for a workshop, or for more information about My Urban Freej, including the full list of artists, visit https://www.expo2020dubai.com/myurbanfreej.
Running from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021, Expo 2020 Dubai will bring together 192 countries and millions of visitors for a global celebration of culture and innovation. In addition to My Urban Freej, Expo 2020 has also launched a design and crafts programme created to support and promote local brands and emerging talents, aligned with the UAE’s efforts to accelerate the creative economy.
Caption for visual: An example of street art commissioned by Expo 2020 Dubai that could be showcased in a public space in Ras Al Khaimah.