Graffiti art spans from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings and has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire.

In modern times, paint - particularly spray paint - and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials.

There are many different types and styles of graffiti, and despite the ongoing debate about its direction and definition, Dubai’s street art scene is rapidly growing and developing.

It's supported by the government's backing for public art, high-profile supporters, residencies from world-renowned artists, and a small but committed community of local talent.

Here are 13 Dubai-based graffiti artists you should definitely follow:

1. eL Seed

Born in Paris in 1981, eL Seed's intricate compositions call not only on the words and their meaning but also for their movement.

Working primarily with subjects that seem contradictory, eL Seed's art reflects the reality of mankind and the world we live in today. 

In 2017, eL Seed won the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab CultureHe was named a Global Thinker in 2016 by Foreign Policy for his project ‘Perception’ in Cairo. 

In 2015, the international organization Ted recognized him as one of the year’s “Ted Fellows” for advocating peaceful expression and social progress through his work. 

2. Fats Patrol

Fats Patrol's  work and style are an insight into her own cultural influences from the UAE, India, and Canada.

She's passionate about art’s social impact and, in recent years, her work has made its way to public walls accompanying work on canvas, and intimate illustrations as well as outreach art projects in various countries. 

Fathima graduated with a BA in Art & Culture from the University of Toronto and an MA in Sociology from Goldsmiths, University of London

In 2010 she was awarded the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award and founded The Domino, an artist-run company in Dubai.

3. Just One

Just One is of British origin and an artist who was born and educated in Switzerland. 

Emerging from the rising movement of graffiti art in Europe, he became interested in mural painting in the early 90's.

Through 20 years of commitment, he has proved himself to be a versatile artist, whose work reflects both his sensitivity and exactitude. 

His work is also greatly inspired by his travels, a significant source of his reflections and engagements.

4. Dina Saadi

Dina Saadi experienced a journey of colorful contrast between the East and the West, as she was born in Moscow and raised in Damascus before moving to Dubai in 2012.

Her style is influenced by pop art and she has a passion for bright colors and patterns. 

Dina studied Visual Communications at Damascus University of Fine Arts and graduated in 2009. 

Between 2006 and 2015 she participated in many workshops, competitions and festivals across the Middle East, Europe, and the US where she has won several awards and widespread recognition.

5. Gary Yong / Enforce One

Gary Yong aka Enforce One has been a full-time visual artist for the last 10 years. 

He is currently based in Dubai and was one of the artists who took part in breaking the Guinness World Record of the longest graffiti scroll in the world.

6. Sya One

Sya One is of British origin and has been a graffiti artist for nearly 25 years. With a spray can in his hand, music in his ears and his wife by his side, he finds solace in creating something beautiful for himself and others. 

The style he has adopted in his own words is “LAZY” fat letters with an easy flow and bright fills. Sya One currently resides in Dubai with his wife, Steffi Bow, who is also a graffiti artist.

7. Saif Chilmiran

Saif Chilmiran, born in Toronto in 1990, is a Canadian visual artist of Middle Eastern origin who started exploring with graffiti in his early teens as a form of an artistic insurrection to express his views in a conservative culture. 

He grew up in the UAE and, eventually, sprayed his way into commissioned events hosted by Red Bull, Chevrolet, and Mini Cooper amongst others.

He saw a void for street art that needed to be filled in the UAE and began to explore with different mediums as one of the first street artists in the GCC region.

In 2010, ProArt Gallery, a contemporary art gallery in Dubai, incorporated Saif's artwork into their first street art exhibition alongside artworks by street art pioneers such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Blek Le Rat, and Seen

Inspired by today’s global issues, Saif approaches his art with a humanitarian perspective to highlight Middle Eastern struggles and events often through satire and irony. 

8. Steffi Bow

Steffi Bow is a multi-media artist who was, coincidentally, born in Bow, East London, so the nickname was coined.

In memory of her late Scottish grandmother, Steffi started painting stencil graffiti bow tags on streets wherever she went.

This led her on a journey experimenting with spray paint, progressing onto larger freehand graffiti bows, giant life-sized stencil pieces, letter-forms, and abstract patterns.

Her development was all helped by the fact that she met, fell in love with, and married the talented graffiti artist Sya One who pushed her to try new things and progress her style.

9. Myneandyours

The Myneandyours project, started by Marwan Shakarchi, revolves around the story of a cloud, and its relationship with the environment that surrounds it. 

He wants people to view the cloud as a symbol of hope and an encouragement to reach for their dreams.

Before Shakarchi moved to Dubai, he was working for his family business in London. 

Since he arrived in the UAE, he has dedicated himself solely to his art, taking a studio in Tashkeel and slowly moving his practice past the simple symbology of tagging the cloud and giving it a firmer conceptual base.

10. Los Letras

Los Letras has been creating art for more than 11 years, and has worked with numerous design agencies and publishing houses both large and small, doing everything from branding to editorial design.

He is also a published illustrator, producing magazine covers and editorial illustrations for some of the largest titles in the Middle East.

11. The Brownmonkeys

The Brownmonkeys is an art and design collective based in Dubai and were founded in 2007.

It's a group of multi-disciplinary artists and purveyor of the "lowbrow" movement. The group offers an alternative approach to contemporary street art and design. 

12. Cholo Juan

Cholo Juan aka Depikt was born and raised in Quezon City, Philippines, and is a self-taught visual artist and graphic designer.

His art mainly depicts different aspects of human conditions through figures and symbolism.

Experimenting, utilizing the range of mediums, his art can be described as a fusion of urban/street art, abstract, as well as pop-surrealism. He currently resides and works in Dubai.

13. Maajed Ahmed

Maajed Ahmed is originally from the beautiful Saudi city of Mecca. He currently lives in Dubai and has been drawing since 2007.

His love for the Arabic language and art introduced him to his innate talent for Arabic "calligraffiti".

Being born and bought up in the holy city of Mecca, Majed has always been in touch with his Arabic routes and likes to use his talent to spread messages through his art. 

He continues to create breathtaking and powerful pieces of calligraffiti and graffiti after moving to the UAE and has done so in various countries all around the globe.

Yasmin Helal contributed to this post.