Friday, February 7, 2014

STREETCON urban art fest and the new Al Ghurair Centre

Al Ghurair Centre seems determined to not disappear amid the deluge of new malls that has flooded Dubai in the last couple of decades. While geographic factors ensure that it will not be able to compete with Dubai Mall and the planned Mall of Arabia, its latest expansion is extremely bold, and is also timed to coincide with a re-branding that includes a new positioning, new marketing, a new logo, and community activities like the STREETCON urban art festival. If the momentum is sustained, it could result in a new lease of life for Dubai's first mall, and a revitalization of what used to be Dubai's high street.

Most of STREETCON is not actually on the street, except for a couple of murals painted along the road that runs through the mall's premises. One of them is a collaborative mural, to be completed by numerous artists over the ten days of the festival.

A small multi-artist gallery and studio called "The Mash-Up" was packed into a vacant space at the Spinneys block, in which customization toys were being worked on by artists, and urban/alternative art works, ranging from tin art to glass art to graffiti, were displayed.

The AGC expansion itself is actually quite revolutionary. It's a three-level complex with two large atria and many more shops and cafes, connected to the old mall, but with a brighter, swankier look. An expanded food court and entertainment centre have been added. AGC has also launched a magazine that, despite being an obvious promotion for the mall, actually has some low-spiel, interesting content.

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