Avoiding the cliches: How to portray the UAE authentically


How is it already that time of year? The biggest day in the UAE calendar – National Day – is upon us this week.

Celebrating the unification of the seven emirates and the birth of the United Arab Emirates, every organisation in the country pays homage to their host, displaying flags, coloured lights, and through all manner of marketing activities and events. This year there will obviously be some changes, as event organisers take COVID 19 health and safety precautions into account, but the air of celebration and pride is as strong as ever, all across the country.

Marketing plans for clients this month generally centre around this spirit of patriotism and pride, and it got me thinking about what the UAE means to each of us, and how we project that to the rest of the world. The majority of National Day graphics, videos and images used by marketeers generally focus around the flag and the rulers, however many of us like to use various symbols to represent the UAE, and these tend to be the same symbols used over and over again, by everyone. In these currents times of change, it may be time to review the images we use to ensure we stay relevant and authentic, and clearly portray the various different elements of the UAE that appeal to each of us as individuals.

Typically, symbols used to represent the UAE might include falcons, flags, camels, dates, coffee pots, mosques, the UAE coat of arms, ghaf trees, the Dubai skyline/Burj Khalifa/Burj Al Arab, the seven stars that represent the Emirates, and locals in National dress. These symbols have been used so much, it’s worth thinking about what really does represent the UAE – do we need the cliches and gimmicky icons?

Can we look at other visual ways to evoke the spirit of the nation? Graphics and videos that demonstrate the UAE’s signature warm Arabian hospitality, the tolerance and diversity of the UAE’s population, the progressive mindset, vision and growth of the nation’s leaders? Obviously, the messages you want to convey and the images you use will depend on your business and audience  - after all, we shouldn’t just be posting about the holiday to tick a box, in an ideal world we should be taking the opportunity to contribute to the conversation and build emotional connections with our audience, and you need to choose those images/videos that best achieve this result.

That being said, these things take time and effort to plan and create, and if we don’t get organised in enough time, then it can seem an impossible task, which is why the planning of content is so important… If you’d like to discuss some ideas further, or brainstorm content ideas for upcoming holidays, please do email me on sam@footstepcommunications.com – and please don’t judge my graphics for this year as we have been so busy with our projects, we haven’t had much time for our own!

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