Increasing graffiti turns public places an eyesore

ABU DHABI - The city's public places are turning into an eyesore for residents due to the increasing graffiti on the walls. It has also negated the beautification exercise undertaken by the authorities.

By Anjana Sankar

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Published: Sun 8 May 2005, 11:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:24 PM

Residents and visitors alike have called for stringent measures to curb this unpleasant practice. Commonly seen in public bus stops, telephone booths, walls and tourist spots in Abu Dhabi, graffiti takes forms like obscene drawings and scribbling, etching of names and telephone numbers.

While some are simple harmless messages like "Ashraf loves Ayesha" or "I love UAE", there are those repugnant ones that spread hatred and malice.

Though schoolchildren are generally perceived as the masterminds behind this act of public vandalism, eyewitnesses say even adults indulge in graffiti.

Sissy Michael, a tourist from the US, said it hurts to see people scribble on walls and public telephone booths just to while away time.

"I have seen people who take out their pen and start scribbling something or the other during the 15-minute wait at the bus stop. I think it is basically lack of patience and discipline that makes people do this."

A cross section of society using corniche for their routine walk expressed shock at seeing such a beautiful place ruined by this "criminal art", as they called it.

"It is the most popular outdoor spot in Abu Dhabi where families come and spend weekends and evenings. One look at the benches and chalets will give you an idea as to who is in love with whom," remarked Harris, commenting on the many love messages inscribed quite liberally.

Karen McLeister, Student Supervisor at the Abu Dhabi Women's College, said graffiti was not as big a problem in Abu Dhabi as in her home country. Hailing from Toronto, she said it was far more severe problem back home.

"It is a shame to damage public property. Those who look at graffiti as a means of self expression should resort to more productive ways to convey their messages," Karen said.

Statistics show graffiti clean-up alone costs the US government over $8 billion annually.

Fareeza Ahmed, who teaches in a private school, said that schoolchildren take to graffiti without properly understanding its consequences and harmful effects on the community. "They are not the unruly lot as we generally might think. They think it is cool to write their mobile numbers in public places." According to her, it is also an attention-seeking technique."

An Erode (Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency) official stated that graffiti becomes a serious concern for environmentalists if toxic colours harmful for the environment are used for inscriptions.

"Otherwise, it is mostly something that hampers the aesthetics of a public place."

Suggesting measures to curb graffiti, the official said that local authorities should paste public awareness messages in vulnerable spots and impose fine on those who flout regulations.

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