Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, has asked me to meet him in Al Fahidi, one of the oldest parts of Dubai and one of the city’s cultural hubs. As I make my way through the narrow alleyways that weave between the grand houses and cobbled courtyards, I feel like I’m discovering a whole new face of Dubai.
“That was one of the reasons I asked you to meet me here,” says Issam when we sit down in the shaded courtyard of one of the recently opened art galleries. “It’s the perfect setting to tell you about the #MyDubai project, because like Al Fahidi #MyDubai reflects a different side of Dubai, or I should say, many different sides. You could see it as a multi-media portrait of a city beyond the headlines.”
“I saw some of the photos collected over the last seven months on Instagram, and on other social media channels. But tell me more about the background of the project,” I say.
“It’s really quite a unique project,” says Issam. “It started in the run-up to the bid for Expo 2020: people started spontaneously sharing images of “their Dubai”, from their perspective, the Dubai they love and want to share with the world.”
“Once we won the bid, the Crown Prince of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum decided in January 2014 that he wanted to create a more permanent space where residents could continue to share their love of Dubai. He’s described the platform as ‘an autobiography of Dubai through social media’, which is very apt I think.”
“So how does it work exactly? Can anyone post photos?”
“Absolutely,” says Issam. “Residents and visitors are encouraged to submit images and videos of the compelling moments of their lives in Dubai under the hashtag #MyDubai. Every day, around 10 images or videos are selected from amongst thousands of submissions and are shown on www.instagram.com/MyDubai. And on www.twitter.com/MyDubai you can browse through articles, stories, images and videos.
“So it’s like an online gallery in a way?”
“That’s right. The mosaic of images we receive creates a unique portrait of life in the city. The rich cultural diversity that lies beneath Dubai’s urban and technological advancement is portrayed in this e-museum, creating the remarkable story of 2.1 million people.”
“And how has the response been?” I ask.
“Incredible,” says Issam. “There have been more than 1.2 million uploads on Instagram and 1 billion impressions on Twitter with very little marketing spend. Moreover we have a continuous increase in number of followers, over 120,000 so far. What’s really remarkable is that a number of top international brands, local organisations and government entities have also joined the initiative by using the hashtag across their social media platforms and engaging with the initiative through various events which highlight life in Dubai.”
“That’s interesting. Can you give some examples?”
“There are so many I don’t even know where to start,” says Issam. “I’ll give you my favourites: every month, Burj Al Arab projects the five most creative #MyDubai contributions onto its famous sail. Dubai Police are also using the hashtag on their fleet of cars, especially their latest convoy of Bugatti Veyron. Audi Al Nabooda’s fleet of marketing cars have been branded with #MyDubai to attend events across the city. The hashtag even appeared on race horses at The Dubai World Cup! And in fashion, local designer Caliente Caps launched an exclusive line of #MyDubai baseball caps.
“So it has really gained great momentum across the board. And it has become a huge collaborative story.”
“Absolutely, I think it’s a great example of the power of resident advocacy in promoting a destination,” Issam says with a proud smile.
© 2014 CoolBrands – Around the World in 80 Brands
Tags: #MyDubai, Issam Kazim, CEO of the Dubai Corporation for Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai, Al Fahidi, #MyDubai project, CoolBrands, around the world in 80 brands, #CBNWS, CBNWS, Crown Prince of Dubai, #Expo2020, Expo 2020, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Dubai World Cup, Caliente Caps