The ‘Clean Walls, Beautiful City’ programme, devised by Dubai Municipality, was launched yesterday at Zayed bin Sultan Boys’ School in Satwa. Boys aged between five and 12 took part in a dramatisation of what might happen if they spray-paint walls  - featuring long faces when the police arrived to put them behind bars.
The programme will roll out to 20 schools in Dubai - with areas chosen because there has been graffiti in their vicinity. After the drama, the boys were taken outside their school walls to paint over graffiti.
Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, director of the waste management department at the municipality, who was at the school, said the message being put to the children is “we have to treat the outside as if it’s inside your house”.
He added: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed wants Dubai to be one of the best cities in the world. So everyone should work with us.” Saifaie said that the graffiti programme  is just one of many run by the municipality - with other projects focusing on topics such as spitting and littering. Asked about projects by world-famous graffiti artists who would like to splash some colour around Dubai, Saifaie said: “I’m sure not everyone makes a mess and can put beautiful art on the walls. But graffiti is something and art is something else .”
The director said that graffiti has been drastically reduced in Dubai and admitted: “It’s not a very big problem, but that doesn’t mean we should stop doing awareness initiatives .” While the children going to jail, in reality the penalty for daubing graffiti on Dubai’s walls is Dhs500. Every time an offender is caught, the fine will double.
Hamda Al Murr, head of awareness at the municipality, said graffiti hotspots in Dubai include Satwa, Qusais and Hor Al Anz. She added: “We have chosen the schools in areas where there is graffiti.” Al Murr also revealed: “At the end of the project we will choose a wall here in Dubai where the children from the schools can do graffiti art.”
One of the teachers at the school told 7DAYS: “We say ‘Clean at Home, Clean at School’. The children have been cleaning their own classrooms for two or three months in a competition with prizes.”