Bahrain expands anti-graffiti drive
Manama, May 27, 2012
An initiative to wipe out anti-government graffiti in Bahrain has proven so successful that it has been rolled out in other trouble areas across the kingdom, said a top government official.
It features the beautification of villages by painting religious murals to prevent vandals from spraying anti-monarchy slogans on public and private property.
Organisers are encouraging the country's youth to come out in force to show off their artistic talents and paint cultural images, Islamic phrases and the 99 names of Allah.
The project was launched by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry in the Northern Governorate which led to paintings appearing on a major roundabout along the Shaikh Khalifa Highway from Seef to Hamad Town.
The Burgerland roundabout was turned into a canvas by Bahraini artist Mohammed Al Oraibi, after he was officially requested by the ministry to decorate the road which was covered in anti-government slogans.
Volunteers will now take their painting brushes to buildings, schools and public properties in the Central Governorate, which consists of several hotbeds for anti-government protesters such as Salmabad, A'ali, Nuwaidrat, Eker and Sitra.
It will then be extended to the country's other three governorates.
"The project was first organised by the civil society and then turned into a beautification project which we started before the Formula One in April," said ministry assistant joint under-secretary for municipal services Mohammed Noor Al Shaikh.
"It was also organised to stop people from writing things on the walls which were not nice and through the painting of religious phrases and paintings, we can make the area more beautiful.
"We started with areas along Shaikh Khalifa Highway from Seef to Hamad Town on both sides of the road and then extended the project to the Central Governorate.
"There they will decorate roundabouts and buildings, and they have already approached schools and societies to ask them to design images to be painted."
Authorities are hoping the move would prevent rioters from vandalising private and public properties with graffiti as the religious phrases were sacred.
The paintings appeared on the roundabout infrastructure and surrounding walls in the run up to the Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix last month, but it was no easy task for Mr Al Oraibi and his colleagues whose work attracted suspicion from authorities and passers-by during the three-day process.
"I chose this theme to paint because firstly it is part of our religious culture, and also these names and phrases are sacred so no one will be able to ruin them by painting over them," said Al Oraibi, who is the founder of art company Romantic Decoration.
"We painted them from April 15 to 18, just before the F1, but we did face many problems with authorities when we were painting.
"We faced problems particularly with the traffic police, riot police and security officers who demanded to see the official permission from the ministry during the time I was painting.
"I would love to have them fixed permanently, because they talk about God which is a universal theme in all cultures, so they will be respected by everyone. Moreover, they give more beauty to the area,” he added. – TradeArabia News Service