Part 2: Art on wheels – shooting Dubai’s colourful ‘Jingle trucks’

Following Part 1 of our post on the research & prep for our signature 2012 calendar, here’s Part 2 of Zaman team mate Nadia Abdeen’s journal entries – Nadia was tasked with the responsibility of driving around Dubai, camera in tow, to find the colourfully painted sewage trucks or  ‘Jingle Trucks’ as they popularly called.

October 5th: Again I noticed a few colorful trucks on my way home, I think it was around International City. I decided to head that way and drive around for a bit on the off-chance that I might spot a few trucks. Success. One of trucks had a different rendition of the popular golden eagle. It was beautifully painted with colorful ornaments all around the truck. There was also another truck that I saw which was pretty colorful but a lot of the paint had worn off marring the original artwork. All that was left were scenes of blue mountains and some trees; probably depicting the trucker’s hometown. Today I also found more smaller-scale crops with rich color and form.

October 25th: Today is my last trip out to find a few more shots of truck art for Zaman’s calendar. Although I’ve managed to get some interesting shots, I’m still a bit curious to see what else is out there. I found two trucks that were less elaborate than the rest of my collection. However this trip was my favorite and was perhaps the most insightful; I found the only artist in Dubai who paints on these sewage trucks. He is the painter behind 65 truck paintings. An old, shy truck driver that is well-known amongst fellow truckers as “الأستاذ” or ‘The Teacher’. He shared with me some of the stories behind his paintings, and how each one of them holds a story relevant to the driver of that truck. He also told me that he is not allowed to paint anymore as the RTA (Dubai Road & Transport Authority) put a rule against decorated trucks, and most of his paintings were washed out because of this.

My research and numerous drives around Dubai in search for these painted trucks made me realize just how much I’d underestimated the significance of these paintings to the truck drivers. Not only do these paintings resemble the driver’s personality, they are also used as a kind of recognition ‘badge’ whereby drivers can instantly recognize each others trucks on the roads.

Thanks Nadia for sharing! Here & here are two links to interesting write-ups on this culture of “Jingle Trucks”

You can find more of photos of Dubai’s colourful tracks on Flickr.