Spray before you’re sprayed upon


bad manner

I like this sign not so much because of the incorrect usage of the indefinite article (a), for me it’s more the concept (or perhaps, delusional hope) that by pointing out that something is bad manners you can bring about its end.

Contrast this with how the UK authorities have dealt with graffiti.

It’s regularly pegged as being “vandalism”, “destruction of private property”, “a prosecutable offence”, “criminal damage” and altogether “illegal!”. Certainly a linguistically stronger approach than the Saudis have taken.

Even if you look at the fencing next to those stretches of the London Underground in the UK that are above ground; you’ll see signs warning potential graf artists that the British Transport Police have helicopters on patrol looking for individuals that they can arrest and invariably ASBO into submission.

And yet no-one in the UK has thus far tried to simply point out that it’s a faux pas (social blunder) to spray your name onto the back wall of the local bingo hall.

Can you imagine where we’d be if someone had taken Banksy to one side early in his career and said “I say old bean, but don’t you think that it’s rather rude to be spraying that there?”

Yes, probably exactly still where we are now; which is why I’m inclined to be a little sceptical of the Saudi approach.

There is agreeably a growing problem with the shabāb tagging the walls in their areas or near their schools. And amusingly for me most taggers use kunyā‘s and possess poor grammatical skills. Such that “Kilroy woz ere” becomes “Abu Khalid am here.”

It’s also sad to relate but a lot of graffiti involves Saudis spraying the names of the few Western rap artists that they’ve heard of; I was dismayed to see “Tupac” and “50 Cent” staring back at me in bright letters from local buildings when I first arrived.

Not that I’m suggesting that we need to Arab-ise this Western culture and come up with our own “50 Halālas” or “Ithnayn-bac.” As an actual fan of graffiti art (not so much tagging, the real artistic stuff), it’d be nice to see the two worlds (Islam and graffiti) collide more over here. Like some colourful nasīha making it onto the walls, that says “Pray before you’re prayed upon!” all written in wildstyle . Kind of like what Mohammed Ali does.

Instead what you find are desperate attempts at gaining attention as you note the lonely spraying email addresses onto walls, or you witness worryingly badly drawn genitalia on the more profane pieces that you spot (one inappropriate drawing I witnessed had me wondering whether or not the writer needed to urgently see a doctor as his anatomical reproduction in paint seem to have some additional bits that other human beings don’t normally have).

And indeed, that last trend in wall decorating that I referred to certainly is an example of “a bad manner.”

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2 Comments

Filed under Saudi, Signage

2 responses to “Spray before you’re sprayed upon

  1. Well that sign might work if people were actually conscious of their manners. But then, people who are conscious of their manners should also be conscious of grammar. It’s only befitting. I’m a big fan of graffiti when it has real artistic merit, and not just someone’s kunya (Abu Khalid am here – LOL) scrawled on the wall. Awesome links by the way.

    Then again, Saudi has more important things to worry about than graffiti. Like a woman driving for example.

    Or being U.S. puppets.

    So maybe someone should put up a sign saying ‘selling loyalty for oil is a bad manner.’

  2. It’s actually amazing how a moral code is embedded in the society here. You have other signs in this series where they’ll have some old guy with a tear in his eye telling people not to litter, have barbecues in the parks, climb lamp posts or play on the embankments next to the motorways (you know, all the major social taboos).

    The old guy is there to make the youth feel shamed into complying. It’d probably have worked better twenty years ago but it’ll still have some impact I guess.

    They’re big on tradition and respecting elders. Like at a gathering for a meal, you’re not allowed to leave the gathering until the oldest member there has. And then the next oldest and so forth. So if you’re in your teens you’re basically knackered and will have to sit till the early hours.

    A friend told me how he was severly repremanded (with hot coffee) for slurping his drink in front of an elder.

    I don’t think they’d swing for your poster idea, however accurate it may be, as dessent is also considered a bad manner here.

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