There’s more to Karama these days than previously met the eye: a vibrant burst of colour has just appeared along the full length of the district’s 18b Street (often referred to as ‘the handbag street’ by expats).

Painted on the end-sides of accommodation buildings and above shopfronts, the epic murals take street art to exactly where it deserves to be – lining the streets that deserve it most; residential and commercial places far from the tourist trail in need of beautification. These pieces are now a focal point, and source of pride and inspiration.

It seems like the art just appeared overnight, but word on the street is that the 24 pieces were created under the cloak of darkness during Ramadan by a group of prominent Malaysian artists and a few passionate helpers.

While there’s some controversy over another major street art project importing artists rather than using all local talent, the team responsible for the Karama makeover includes an impressive roster of names, and it was all organised by local company Graffiti Co. Also, after a little bit of digging around, we discovered that UAE-based Malaysian artist Newba was also at the heart of this project. He’s been a prominent name on the UAE scene for years, and this is his parting shot before he heads back to Malaysia.

Other artists involved include Katun, Pakey One, Abdul Rashade and Sored One. To see more of their work find the talented team on their individual Instagram handles: @newba, @katun_, @pakey_one, @abdulrashade, @sored_one and @itspoketwoHere’s hoping we see many more projects like this popping up around Dubai, perhaps in Jebel Ali, Al Quoz or Deira, and fingers crossed the next schemes will also tap into the hotbed of local artists itching to get involved.

Here’s Dubai-based artist Maddy Butcher’s take on the pieces…

karama-graf01. This is my favourite. A trompe l’oeil across two big buildings and a large section, we’re supposed to think this giant shark and stingray are inside the buildings themselves. I love the ambitious scale of the piece and the details, texture and contrast.

karama-grafitti-one02. This abstract expressionist piece looks carefree enough but is actually complicated in terms of its beautiful composition and careful ‘effortlessness’. I think this might be my second favourite of the lot.

karama-grafitti-two03. The Falcon here is a definite nod to the UAE’s history and culture.

karama-grafitti-304. With an interstellar covering for both sides, I love the fake classical style building poking through here, perhaps because it’s a nod to a more historic, older style of construction in the colours of Karama’s own buildings. I think it’s a gesture to the fact that while Dubai is seen to have a shorter history than other cities, Karama is a big part of that history.

karama-grafitti-405. This is an obvious reference to Dubai’s pearl diving history and the Malaysians definitely took the concept and ran with it, creating an ambitious composition that makes this one of the most arresting double pieces of the lot.

karama-grafitti-6 06. Nice colours! I guess this is what would happen if Pixar went on desert safari with a bunch of Malaysian street artists.

karama-807. I love this and I think @Pakey_one was a big force behind this piece, although it was all a team effort. I love the composition and colour choices. Needlework never looked so cool.

karama-grafitti-908. These are both great, but I feel like the artists were more excited about doing some of the other pieces.

karama-grafitti-1009. Two pairs of artists give a different take on the same subject matter. I love the composition of the painting on the left, and the texture on the right.


10. This is another thought-out composition with plenty of energy and some beautiful textures. It’s easy to tell that the artists involved really enjoyed working on this. Beautiful work.

– For more on Dubai’s music, lifestyle & club culture straight to your newsfeed, like Hype on Facebook.

Photos: Massam Ali