Dubai patriotism redefined
As Dubai residents turn sentiments into a business opportunity, Kipp is genuinely impressed by the efforts.
November 2, 2010 12:46 by shafeer
Given the bad press Dubai’s received in the recent past, Kipp finds it endearing that some of the city’s residents are stepping up to highlight their allegiance to the emirate. For instance, consider an article in The National today which described how Emirati writer and commentator Mishaal al Gergawi and his graphic designer wife Bushra Badri are teaming up to launch a range of T-shirts, notebooks, bracelets and smart-phone covers, all to bear the sentimentally proud statement ‘iamherebecauseilikeDubai’.
Gergawi says he got the idea when he was preparing for a talk on the history of Dubai and realized that despite the economic downturn, he is still in Dubai because he, in fact, likes being in the City. After a friend of his tweeted ‘#iamherebecauseilikedubai,’ Gergawi began to observe that many others re-tweeted the phrase with scenic pictures anecdotes about Dubai. When his wife began to receive requests from her friends to have t-shirts or bags made with the phrase printed on it, the couple realized it was a possible business opportunity in the making.
Gergawi’s sentimental efforts are by no means isolated. Earlier this year, Khaleej Times reported the creation of mydubaimyhome.com – a site that was set up by two expats in response to Dubai-bashing articles in the international press. Speaking to Khaleej times, co-founder of the mydubaimyhome.com – which also printed t-shirts and badges – Prateek Chaudhry D’Costa, said ‘When a section of the global media is up in arms, and when your home is Dubai, the best defense is not offence – but solidarity.’
And one merely has to type in ‘Dubai love’ to find the blogosphere flooded with posts by long-time Dubaians (as they like to call themselves) taking to the web to profess their love for the city. Moryati, a Dubai-based blogger who writes at http://dubaiconsumermirror.blogspot.com/, blogs, ‘And yes, Dubai government is paying me… and you, and you, and everyone. Not in cash, but in something much more valuable: an experience. Living and working in Dubai gave me the chance to be – to do things and go to places I wouldn’t even dream of. Dubai is one of the safest places I have ever been to.’
The emergence of Facebook groups, blogs, printed t-shirts and badges makes the cynic in Kipp think that, possibly, we are seeing a shift in Dubaian expat attitudes. It’s a shift from coming to the Gulf to make a quick buck and ship out to seeing Dubai as more of a permanent stop – one quite like their own home.