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[DUBAI] The Middle East's first three-dimensional pavement art festival, starring works by international artists that appear to rise from the ground, kicked off this week in Dubai, its organisers said.
The Dubai Canvas Festival features 3D artworks in chalk or paint, many of them depicting eye-catching images of the Emirati city.
Kurt Wenner, creator of the 3D pavement painting technique, said the setting of Dubai provided a "wonderful" chance to incorporate art into the city's ever-expanding landscape.
"What happened in Dubai as far as I can tell is that the concentration of vision has been architectural and I think they're still working on how they're going to be incorporating the visual arts," he told AFP.
Noora al-Abbar, director of communications and innovation at the government of Dubai, said the festival was part of a wider initiative to transform the city into "an open air art museum".
One of the festival pieces, a chalk drawing by Wenner, shows a boy aboard a traditional Emirati fishing boat surrounded by children carrying baskets of pearls and shells. Dubai's landmark high-rise skyscrapers are seen in the background.
Syrian visitor Omar Adi said the festival was "a huge opportunity for artists to showcase their talents and it is a new form of 3D art that we haven't been used to in the Middle East".
Dubai, famous for its glitzy buildings, is home to Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower, as well as Dubai Mall, one of the largest shopping centres on Earth.
But the city has recently been investing in cultural projects, with plans afoot to build an opera house and a modern art museum.
Later this month it will hold the ninth edition of Art Dubai, billed as the leading contemporary art fair in the Middle East and North Africa.