A Dubai-based British designer has created a series of satirical posters that poke light-hearted fun at the cushy, sometimes spoiled lives of expatriates in the city.
Clare Napper, 36, a designer with the Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency, said she was inspired by the work of the French illustrator Roger Broders, whose colourful depictions of popular tourist sites in France became internationally recognised in the 1930s and 1940s.
The “Highlife Dubai” posters gently mock aspects of Western expat life in the UAE, ranging from dependence on nannies and cleaners to the potentially hazardous after-effects of an ill-advised day spent playing golf in the scorching summer heat.
One poster, for example, with the caption “thank goodness for the nanny” depicts a crying child in the arms of his caretaker, with the caption “it’s ok dear, these not strangers – these your parents!”
Other posters are more akin to Broder’s posters from the 1940s, and depict popular tourist destinations in the UAE such as the Burj Al Arab and JBR Beach, as well as Musandam in Oman.
In an interview, Napper told the Khaleej Times that she was motivated by her affection for the Dubai lifestyle.
“It’s a great life,” she said. “But it’s quite a transient city. I wanted to design sort of expat souvenirs, because when they leave, what do they really take from here?”
Napper noted that some of the posters depict the vast changes in lifestyle that people experience when moving to Dubai from places such as the UK, where things such as cleaning services and taxis are considered expensive luxuries.
“It’s an easy life, one of the easiest lifestyles in the world,” she said. “For example, you’ve got people living here who have never had a cleaner. But now they can have one twice a week.”
“Do we live in a bubble? Or are we just getting on as if we live in a bubble? I don’t have an answer for that.”
Napper added that she hopes her art helps challenge foreign misconceptions about Dubai and encourages people to get to know the culture of the city away from the glitz and glam of tourist resorts.
“If you’re here on vacation, there are huge areas that probably wouldn’t be on your list of places to see,” she said. “People just don’t see it and don’t know. But there is so much going on here.”
According to Napper, many people living abroad question how much history and culture one can experience in the UAE.
“I hear this all the time, and I always say the same thing when asked,” she said. “How much culture was there in London or in New York when those places were only 40 years old?”
The Highlife Dubai series is currently on display at The Scene restaurant - Pier 7, in Dubai Marina.