The running joke of the Dubai street art underground scene is that you need to be able to spray paint equally well with both hands to make it as a successful artist. Not so that those hard-to-reach metro underpass corners can be evenly coated from multiple angles, but rather so that the artist has another hand with which to paint when their first is lopped off for vandalism.

Footnote of cultural article on the UAE’s “emerging” street art scene…

The blanket ban on unsolicited and unsanctioned graffiti / street art / murals in the UAE means that every single piece that is still visible has been commissioned specifically by a contemporary art gallery, or a business looking for a cachet of coolness for their corporate headquarters. There are only two areas of the city with a concentration of street art of significant interest and worthy of exploration, both commissioned by the government. With my heart still hurting from seeing the work of world-renowned artists adorning the side wall of a McDonald’s or promoting Dubai tourism during yesterday’s exploration, I set off for the northern residential district of Al Karama, and specifically Street 18B, where a property developer had commissioned an entire street’s worth of mural art in 2016, with the authorities’ consent of course.

Street 18B is also known as Fake Goods Street in the local expat community, as I quickly discovered. Stopping to talk to a couple of the shopkeepers after they gave up trying to sell me a fake Rolex and some patented plastic Gucci loafers, I learned that very few visitors come to this street knowing of the street art project. Which is a shame because a lot of the murals are really rather good.

Many thanks to for the artist tags

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