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Yemeni Artist Encourages Youth to Embellish Streets with Murals | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Graffiti as a medium to promote peace in neighbourhoods. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Yemeni Artist Murad Subay has spent the last seven years in decorating Sanaa’s streets with murals and colorful paintings.

Since the Arab Spring kicked off in 2011, Subay has drawn hundreds of paintings on the walls of Sanna’a, which have been damaged by the war, aiming to highlight the oppression and sufferance of millions of Yemenis caused by the war, poverty, and revolution in their country.

Till this day, Subay launched five artistic campaigns, and each focused on a different aspect of the conflict, including the incidents of kidnap, disappearance, corruption, poverty, killing of civilians, drones’ use, and the huge devastation of his country’s infrastructure.

While drawing one of his paintings near the Yemeni Central Bank, Murad Subay said: “Today we are near the Yemeni Central Bank, and we want to say that economy shall find real solutions, stop the corruption and the collapse of the national economy”.

The deterioration of the Yemeni economy has increased with the launch of the civil war in March 2015, when the Saudi-led Arab coalition kicked off an air attack to overthrow the Houthis, and to return the government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. The conflict led to the death of more than six thousand Yemeni to date, displaced more than two million people, and involved the poor country in one of the worst world humanitarian crises ever.

Subay has called his recent campaign “Ruins”, and drew paintings on the walls of the buildings damaged during the war, to commemorate thousands of people who lost their lives in the conflict.

Subay does not work alone. Over the years, he has called the youth who live in the neighborhoods near the city to join him, and hundreds have responded. The artist stresses that art is the best peaceful and influential mean to refuse oppression and to emphasize sufferance. Subay said that colors and paintings are a decent and peaceful call for Yemenis to refuse hatred and conflicts, and to move toward the construction of their country and to stop its destruction.

Subay received many global awards for the political expressions he use in his works. Yet, he sees that he earned these awards due to the support of his friends, family, and the Yemeni people, saying teamwork can make a significant difference in Yemen.