The Rise of Middle Eastern Street Art

While the Arab Spring of 2011 was by no means the beginnings of street art in the Middle East – UPDATE: as discussed in a recent openDemocracy talk – it did lead to an explosion of graffitis, murals and stencils across the region and beyond. 

In this Google Map, we pick out some of the key pieces and locations of street art in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Beirut, as well as some examples of how the uprisings found an artistic expression on the streets of London.

Monastir, Tunisia – photo used via Creative Commons license. Anti-Gaddafi graffiti in Tunisia.

Benghazi, Libya - photo: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images. With the rise of the National Transitional Council, the growing feeling of liberation manifested itself in street art, such as this example from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. Fatcap have an excellent round-up of the Libyan anti-Gaddafi street art here, and The Observer have one here.

London, UK

  • Paternoster Square - During the Occupy movement’s protest outside St Paul’s Cathedral, the UK street artist TerrorWrist rechristens Paternoster Square as Tahrir Square, in solidarity with the Egyptian uprisings. See this Invisible Made Visible article for more.
  • Street art in London showing solidarity with the Syrian uprising.
  • Graffiti in London supporting the Egyptian uprising.
Cairo, Egypt – photo: Photo: Mohamed El Hebeishy, The call for the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak brought with it an explosion of art on the streets of Cairo by artists like Ganzeer. For more images, take a look at this Guardian CiF slideshow.

Tunisia – photo: Elissa Johnson. The vast economic disparities between the wealthy and the poor in Tunisia – as depicted here – were one of the causes behind the uprising that led to President Ben Ali’s overthrow. For more images from Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, take a look at this brilliant round-up by Neat Designs.

Beirut, Lebanon - Photo: beirutwalls.wordpress.com via suzeeinthecity.wordpress.com. Solidarity with the Syrian struggle was shown in Bashar stencils, such as this one in Beirut’s El Hamra neighbourhood, many of which have now been sprayed over. For more, take a look at this post by Suzee In The City.

Mohamed Mahmoud Street, Cairo, Egypt - photo: Louisa Loveluck. The people killed in the Port Said Stadium disaster in February this year have been depicted in murals on this Cairo street. For more photos, see Louisa’s Flickr.

This is by no means a finished piece of work – we want to hear your suggestions for places and works to include on the map. Send them over to middleeastlondon@gmail.com or Tweet us @MiddleEastLDN.

Laurie Tuffrey

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One comment

  1. there is so much we don’t know about the middle east

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