"I was always hyperactive as a kid and the only thing that would stick me to a chair was a pencil and a piece of paper,” laughs artist and muralist Dina Saadi. Based in Dubai, her passion is now a full-time career and some of the biggest brands in the business, including Nike, Apple and Instagram, have brought her on board to work on their campaigns. In addition to these high-profile projects, her street art has taken her around the world, painting walls and taking part in festivals in the Middle East and beyond.
“I think public art is very important in general,” Saadi notes. “It makes people smile and transports cities almost into open museums. It’s also accessible for everyone, you don’t need to have specific background in arts or to buy a ticket. You just go there and appreciate it, or not!”
Dina cites her inspirations as nature and wildlife, as well as cultures and people. She also believes living in Dubai for seven years has helped in shaping her work. “The diversity in Dubai influences my work, for sure. I like it when a lot of people gather together to create something, and they are from totally different backgrounds and cultures. The art scene has been growing very fast since I arrived. I can see a difference and more appreciation for public art, so it’s definitely moving in the right direction.”
This month, her appreciation for Dubai has been immortalised with a very special collaboration with Aldo. The shoe brand’s MX Artist Series is a global collection of five limited-edition trainers, each conceptualised by a different street artist from one of five trendsetting cities. Dubai joined the line-up, along with London, Montreal, New York and Seoul, with Saadi selected to represent the emirate.
“I was really excited because I had no creative restrictions,” she tells us, “and it means something for the community to see Dubai’s design around the world”. And true to her style, Aldo’s Dubai trainer is bright with fluid colours that incorporate traditional patterns from UAE heritage, along with the familiar flow and strokes of street art.
Aldo’s acknowledgement of the street-art movement heralds the changing opinions on the medium, and Saadi confirms, “I don’t know anyone who would consider street art vandalism. It takes so much time to plan; not only to make it visually balanced and appealing, but also to deliver a meaningful message – it’s an art form by itself.” Looking at her designs, Grazia has to agree.
• The Aldo MX Artist Series is now available at Aldo stores across the UAE