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28.2.11

Talented street artists abroad have a cult-like following, but here in the UAE a university student is using his talents to make his mark. Anyone familiar with street art knows that it is fast turning metropolises worldwide into outdoor museums and has come across the name Banksy. He is an anonymous British street artist who has plastered public walls of cities worldwide with satirical stencilled graffiti art.
"People have been doing street art before Banksy, he just made it famous worldwide," said street artist 'Nasa'.
The 24-year-old hails from Palestine, a place with infinite wall space, and has lived in North America, the Levant and other parts of the GCC before settling in the UAE.
"It was in Canada where I had a real eye-opening experience and got into art," he said. "Growing up I wanted to study art but then decided to go into architecture instead, because it's the mother of all arts."
Nasa is a term away from graduation at a university in the UAE, after which he plans to spend time in the Netherlands, working at an architectural firm and developing himself as a street artist.
Graffiti is illegal in the UAE and can come with hefty fines of up to Dh10,000 and a year in jail. There is, apparently, a thriving underground scene. "People here are scared to go out in public and do street art but there are abandoned houses around the country filled with the stuff."
Some, like Nasa, have tried their luck and displayed their artwork in the public domain; but much to the credit of the UAE's individual emirate's municipalities, the pieces do not get much air time.
"Every time I do a piece in public, I'll go back the next day to check on it and it'll have been covered up." Nasa then said playfully: "It's amazing how efficient these guys are, they must have an army working 24/7."
However, it was one piece Nasa did in Dubai, which landed him legitimate work as an artist.
He did two Nutella pieces mocking Andy Warhol's iconic Campbell's soup piece, which Nasa says is a representation of American culture. "Nowadays everyone is a sucker for Nutella," he said. Through 'Nutella' he was commissioned to design the walls of a very popular local online business.
Inspired by all things man-made, Nasa has no definite message he aims to deliver through his work, but simply looks to make people smile.
"Random street art makes people's lives a little easier because for a moment in time it disrupts their boring lives of working like computers," said Nasa. "I just want people to smile because not a lot of people do that any more."
To view Nasa's work, log onto Facebook and search for 'Nasa street'

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