Dubai Consumer Mirror

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We can brand anything, except our culture

Every year it is the same story. Many Muslims whine and moan about how Eid El Fitr and Adha festivities are virtually invisible comparing to Christmas and even Dewali.

Well, you know what, they are right. Because here in Dubai - I am feeling Santa much more than Adha Sheep. Heck, I can still see leftover Dewali decoration here and there.

One might argue that Ramadan spirit is visible in Dubai. But its only because businesses find it as a killer opportunity to make a killing. Every ad during Ramadan is for an Iftar/Sohor special.

But no Ramadan symbolism like -for example- the hanging lanterns (Fanous) all over Egypt or the Msaharati (Ramadan drummer) in Damascus' old neighbourhoods.

Eid Al Adha in Dubai is just another another long weekend.

Conspiracy theorists cry: "Conspiracy lead by evil western -and subcon- infidels!"

I say: Poor marketing, branding and almost non-existent emotional attributes.

Its not a big secret that someone, I don't know who, needs to hire a PR agency to enhance our image in the west.

Check out the Jewish state. Thanks to a brilliant, consistent 50-year old PR strategy, Israel dominates the US Senate, US mainstream media and -consecutively- the public.

Whereas we, can't even properly promote our culture to our own people.

Eid Mubarak to everyone, if you can ever find it.


  • Excellent post, DCM. Happy Eid (and Merry Christmas :D)

    By Anonymous kinzi, at December 19, 2007 at 12:12 PM  

  • Indeed, here I sit at home looking out the window this morning and last night, and it appears as though the city has emptied.

    No lights, no fireworks, no 3azayem, nothing. Two years ago there was some sign of the Eid - namely sheep blood on some SHJ roads.

    Ramadan is felt in the country like you said because of the ads, but in SHJ at least the spirit was very much alive because of the prayers, and as you know there is a mosque at every intersection.

    It does seem like a long holiday and there is no better way to spend it other than to drink tea, play Assassin's Creed and hope the boss takes an extended holiday through XMas and New Year.

    And one thing more, we don't have to sit and wait for that mysterious someone to hire a PR to promote our image well internally and externally. Maybe we should start promoting it on an individual basis - maybe invite your Christian friends over for 3eed el Ad7a lunch or something, and share the experience with them.

    I am certainly a hypocrite saying that too as I haven't put much effort into it either.

    3eedak embarak inshalla

    By Blogger KJ, at December 19, 2007 at 12:58 PM  

  • eid mubarak to you too buddy, typed from work!

    i agree people don't give a damn about eid anymore.. not like the old golden days.. but we're more to blame than others who make more of a fuss about their festivities.

    i was telling my collegues at work today how muslims and jews (later christians also) came from different branches of the Prophet Ibrahim's family.. Hajar versus Sara.. and a few of them went "oh really? so why do they fight each other?" it was nice to see 40 yr old people talk with the innocence of a 4 yr old!

    By Blogger BuJ, at December 19, 2007 at 6:45 PM  

  • Eid Mubarak to you and your family.

    Yes, you are right, it seems like it is more fun to celebrate Diwali and Christmas, so we celebrate the entire lot, and guess what? I am sick of it all.

    Anyway, we have had a great Eid day, done in traditional style at the family house. I have over-eaten and have just about 6 days left to recover in time for the Christmas celebrations. Then we have new years, and finally I can relax.....phewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

    By Blogger CG, at December 19, 2007 at 7:27 PM  

  • Yeah, Santa is all over the place.
    If it wasn't for the SMSs and the home bound phone calls I wouldn't have known today is a Eid.
    Not to mention that I missed the prayers this morning, again.

    Excellent post Mory!

    By Blogger DUBAI JAZZ, at December 19, 2007 at 8:32 PM  

  • moryarti, an excellent post.

    By Blogger i*maginate, at December 23, 2007 at 12:33 AM  

  • Kol 3aam wa enta bi'7eyr!

    Well I hav etaken matters into my own hands regarding "boring Eids".

    I hang glittery green and gold crescents on a baby olive tree, bake ginger bread there... fun fun fun :)

    By Blogger Shaykhspeara Sha'ira, at December 23, 2007 at 3:15 AM  

  • Great post.

    I am a western catholic (not much into it though) expat in Dubai so I'm going to give you the non-muslim POV.

    I spent the last week wondering. I remember spending Eid in morocco a few years back and it was something else, the spirit was vibrant and you could tell by the way the city atmosphere changed that something big was going on.

    Countless neighbors invited me and my friends for teas, meals, even for the sacrifice. We had a wonderful time there, we met countless of people, learned a lot about religion and the kindness of people. And how to kill a sheep.

    In Dubai, I heard about it in gulfnews, noticed that most Emiratis where still hanging out at coffee beans and MOE and the mosque weren't much louder than usual.(not that they should, but everything felt like a plain old saturday).
    Decoration none, aside from the Christmas displays of course.

    Oh and funny things, the only e-mail/postcard/oral greetings I received was from a non-muslim German guy trying to "fit into the culture" and wishing happy Eid to his whole address book and from the filipina waitress at the aforementioned coffee beans.

    Every time I tried to wish an Happy Eid, in English or in my clumsy Arabic I was received with a blank stare and a little laugher that left me wondering if I totally missed the pronunciation or was off with the date. So I stopped.

    As far as a Ramadan is concerned for non-muslim it's just a boring period where you avoid being outside or in public as much as you can. Eat junk food hidden in the crampiest room that was dedicated "for non-muslim" by your company Unless you can afford to eat at one of the "hidden" restaurant of the 5 stars hotel. The upside is the short work day.

    As for spirit, It's difficult to feel anything, maybe it's lost between Nakheel and Jumeirah's PR stunt about the biggest tower or the biggest residential units or new villa or the toll gate or the new bridge. I don't know.

    I was invited for Iftar/Suhoor by countless of Hotels and Companies myself or my wifes works with but not a single time by an individual.
    Of course I could have been if I went begging for it at the "Mutual comprehension" (or something) booth that I saw once in a mall, but I really didn't feel like having to ask for it.

    People (old timers) told me to prepare some small gifts and candies to give children that would come knocking at the door. A tradition or so I've been told. I didn't see anyone and ate those myself. It was kinda sad.

    I had very different experience in Egypt were every other day my coworkers took me for shopping spree of gift basket (dates, oil, sugar, chocolate, ...) that we distributed in the company to the less fortunate than us. (office boys, cleaners, etc..) so they could enjoy a nice Ramadan Iftar without denting their finances. Invitation for Iftar were also flying all over the place, and not a day could pass without having to apologize five or six time because of a prior engagement. And yes, even white catholic expats were organizing Iftar dinners for their friends. Even the huge coptic community there seemed to be enjoying the event and taking part in it.

    I was in Kuwait last week and it was mostly identical to Dubai. Big fat Christmas trees everywhere and no sign of Eid or any other Muslim religious holy day coming. And people say Kuwait is supposed to be more conservative. *shrug*

    So as kj said it would be great if muslims in Dxb would take their expats co-worker and acquaintance by the hand a let them discover the inner working of a family Iftar dinner or Eid Al Adha lunch.

    As for the PR and lobby it is badly needed. Maybe internally I don't know but externally that's for sure. Try to put yourself in the shoe I shared with most European (and american are worse off). for a month do not watch any news channel originating from an Arab country. Stick to the BBC, CNN, (and not the "orient" version which has stuff as business middle east and Doha debates). Get the original ones which mostly ignore those countries unless something blows up.

    And then just for fun, write down the topic of the news item every time middle east or muslim are mentionned. I can tell you it doesn't look good.

    Nowhere to be heard of is Dubai care, the kuwait fund, the red crescent, any other muslim ONG that actually helps people instead of distributing explosive belt. Never is heard the voice of any intellectual or even educated Muslim. Only people grunting in the street, a riffle in one hand, a burning flag, of whichever bad western country of the week, in the other.

    Dubai's (was it UAE?) first election last year. Do you think anyone in europe has heard about it? Answers no but here we get news about the French president new love conquest in local papers.

    So yes PR, PR, PR. The other, good, face badly needs to be shown. And maybe one day my relatives back home will stop asking me if I am "really sure it's safe to stay in Dubai."

    Take care and enjoy the festive season.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at December 23, 2007 at 5:12 PM  

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