Saturday, July 29, 2006

The New Etisalat Home Page

So do you see a possibility of Etisalat getting impressed by my redesign proposal for their homepage and thereby letting me access YouTube again?

Or will I have keep on waiting for some competition only to say Et Tu Du?

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Project Dooble Earth

The possibilities that Google Earth offers are virtually limitless. I have been trying to put together a super high resolution image of key locations in Dubai from several low resolution images available from the application.

It took around 4 hours and more than 40 screen resolution images to create this high resolution satellite picture of Sheikh Zayed Road area which can be printed as a 1 metre wide poster. At this rate, I would need roughly 130 man-hours, a 17x 17 m printing area and lots of ink to complete Project Dooble Earth - A Super High Resolution image of the whole of Dubai. That is if I will be able to keep my sanity and my disc intact after what I increasingly suspect to be a rather pointless and tedious task. But I have not given up yet.

To have a closer look, you can download the actual high resolution image here(8mb).

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Think before you reach out

BatesPanGulf attempts something innovative for Dubai Autism Centre's campaign to raise awareness of an often-overlooked disorder which affects every 1 in 166 children born in the US. Yosef Khouwes seems to have done a good job with the art direction and the idea is executed quite well too, but I wonder if they did enough research about the dramatic after-effects that many autistic children exhibit to even the slightest touch.

A case of an advertising agency keen on 'making it look good' rather than sending the right message, figuratively. Oddly enough, it has been considered worthy enough to be copied according to this website, especially when the 'blending with the bag' idea is being experimented by every agency in town.

Image sources: Ads of the World and Advertising Goodness

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Modhesh Mystery Solved

Now this 16-year old fellow has a sharp eye, I tell you. He has pointed out the mystery behind my modheshannoya (a critical variation of the dreaded Modhesh-fatigue).
I just knew the mix wasn't right. Have a Modhesh weekend, everyone!

That Scrambled Word Game

This poster reminded me of those good old days when Henri Arnold and Michael Argirion cheered me up with some humorous and fairly entertaining(and most importantly, easier to solve) Jumbles after toiling endlessly with some cryptic crosswords that lived up to the adjective more often than not.
Well, then came the internet, and now all you need to do is to type in the word in a text box and suddenly the Jumble Empire seems to collapse. But yes, you can still indulge in some good old fun and the surprise answer always makes it worthwhile.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Syd's long walk home

If the distance between insanity and genius was measured by success, Syd Barrett would have to go a long way to cover the distance. Not that he cared.

It is amazing how a schizophrenic drug addict who inspired a whole generation of artists and the most memorable of songs passed away spending his last years in reclusive anonymity. Roger Water's song writing in Pink Floyd's later albums was synonymous with references to their loss of this 'crazy diamond' and are lines which every listener can relate to.

The following lines were written by David Gilmour (the man who replaced Syd Barrett when the band members got enough of Barrett wandering around aimlessly during stage performances without playing the guitar) and with no direct reference to Barrett but gimpses of the genius of Pink Floyd and Syd himself, very much evident.

While you are wasting your time on your enemies
Engulfed in a fever of spite
Beyond your tunnel vision reality fades
Like shadows into the night

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Brand Dubai and the Rest

'The heart means different things to different people and is symbolic of the courage and dynamism shown by our leaders in creating a trade and tourism destination unlike any other,' DTCM Director Operations and Marketing, Mr. Mohammed Khamis bin Hareb said, during the launch of a high profile marketing launch of the ‘Dubai Heart’ campaign in May 2005.

A destination like no other, for sure. The trouble is atleast half a dozen other destinations thinks so too, none more significant than Milton Glaser's I love NY, which celebrates the metropolitan pride of the city.

I must say the Dubai heart logo is appealing and clever in a way, but I am not convinced with the explanation that the red colored heart represents ‘courage’ and ‘dynamism’ of leaders in the region. Ask any person in Dubai, whether local or an expat whether they associate the image of the ‘red calligraphic heart’ with what Dubai stands for, I doubt any of them will answer on the affirmative.

Destination branding is no enviable task, as I found out during the past week when I went through hundreds of websites, brochures, articles and a couple of books. More so for a nation as varied as the United Arab Emirates, where identifying a unique characteristic which can generate a positive emotional response from a person is only a part of the task; but also involves addressing issues like the volatility of the middle-east and cultural sensibilities.

Nations has increasingly resorted to the “We have everything” or a “We are different” angle which did nothing more than to get fairly easy approvals from governments and other decision-making bodies. Among Uniquely Singapore, Incredible India, Enchanting Finland, Wonderful Greece, Magical Kenya, Dynamic Korea, Naturally Nepal, Uruguay Natural, Wow Philippines, which one will actually generate a positive human response from a citizen or a tourist is debatable. Others have resorted to their regional significance – Tanzania claiming to be ‘Authentic Africa’ while Rwanda urges you to ‘Discover a new African Dawn’(featuring a Gorilla naming ceremony!) and Zambia reckons you can ‘Experience the Real Africa’, Samoa is ‘The treasured island of the South Pacific’, Grenada is the ‘Spice of the Caribbean’ while Dominica is ‘The Nature Island of the Caribbean’, Malta is the ‘Heart of the Mediterranean’ while Croatia is ‘The Mediterranean as it once was’.

Still more get philosophical and poetic- Macedonia is the ‘Cradle of Culture, land of nature’, Maldives claims to be ‘The sunny side of life’, Nicaragua is ‘A country with heart’(Sorry Dubai), Cayman Islands is ‘Close to home, Far from expected’, Niue Islands is ‘Undiscovered Unspoiled Unbelievable’, Thailand offers you ‘Happiness on Earth’, Vietnam is ‘The Hidden Charm’ while Panama takes up the clichéd ‘The road less travelled’ tag.

Others can simply be mistaken with products like mineral water, television or even shoes - like Seychelles claiming to be ‘As pure as it gets’ (or sometimes a little less) while New Zealand is ‘100% Pure’, South Africa says ‘It is possible’, Hungary has a ‘Talent for entertaining’.

Only a few has managed to stand out and make an impact– either due to their long-term vision or with the help of a bit of creativity shown while making their identities, executing campaigns and ensuring some level of consistency. Malaysia's ‘Truly Asia’, despite its obvious simplicity has proved to be a winner. Alaksa, which has a predictable tagline, ‘Beyond your dreams, Within your reach’ came up with an excellent Alaska B4UDIE campaign to boost tourism revenue. Ethiopia’s questionable ‘13 months of sunshine’ may not have prompted a huge tourist influx, but is nevertheless unique, but has not been marketed well. Latvias ‘Land that Sings’ is delightful, Cyprus’ ‘The golden apple’ is intriguing, Ireland’s ‘Your own Ireland’ works well combined with its identity, Jamaica’s ‘One Love’ is representative of the nations fun-filled outlook.

Australia emerges the winner of the pack with excitement always present in its identity and campaigns that generate discussion, not to mention the popularity of the destination itself. Poland used a plumber and a nurse to inject some fresh lease of life into the tourism industry. Bahamas has a unique and contemporary logo, but it is doubtful whether it portrays a national identity as well as Spain’s does.

Britain, one of the first countries to take destination branding seriously did not create much excitement in terms of creativity. ‘Visit Britain’ promised to be as boring as the country was perceived to be, while the pretentious ‘UK OK’ was typically unimaginative. And in case if you were wondering who was behind Saudi Arabia’s innovative tourism strategy, you are welcome to the lovingly named ‘Supreme commission for Tourism’.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

40 seconds of Blindness

The character and the perspective that we possess today is a manifestation of thousands of experiences and interactions that has happened during our lifetime. Ideally, what we really want to be, is shaped by a process of slow evolution of opinions, thoughts, actions, evaluations and inferences on what is right and what is wrong for us.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Most of us have our ‘40 seconds of blindness’ – when we ponder on a thought, which is completely contradicting basic rationale and pure thinking process. Often in a deliberate way, we imbibe some attributes or viewpoints and in later stages mould them in a way, when whatever counter-arguments that crop up in our minds is quashed by our clouding prejudice.

For Muslims in India and in the rest of the world, this 40 seconds of blindness often comes in the form of a man who proclaims a careless remark which suddenly becomes a turning point in their lives. It might be as trivial as statements like “Hindus worship devils” or “Christians are trying to wipe out Islam”. Being brought up as a Muslim, I have heard such statements more than once and it was there in the back of my mind as I grew up, interacted with people, made friends(incidentally, most of them were Hindus) and without myself knowing it, those seemingly innocuous remarks were wiped out from my mind as rubbish. It is important to note that it is not a philosophical evaluation or the need for strong ideals, which results in such a development. It is just basic human nature of choosing what you think is right rather than having to refer to a book or a person who claims to be knowledgeable on distinguishing between the right and wrong.

It is rather unfortunate and disappointing to admit, atleast from my personal experience that, many Muslims do sympathize with Muslim terrorists. It is amazing how the very fact that these people who actually “kill” is overlooked by a less obvious fact that they are Muslims. If McDonalds has managed to appeal to the health-conscious just by putting a few ads of slim and healthy looking people, then we shouldn’t be very surprised on how these cold-blooded criminals were successful in positioning themselves as saviours or martyrs of Islam.

Every man without a purpose in life, with access to weapons and susceptible to the ‘40 seconds of blindness’ is a potential terrorist. Shoot down 10 of them and the 20 who are watching will only take up the cause. I believe, if we take initiatives on providing these people with opportunities and a good cause to live, the chances of them pursuing violence is minimal. And ofcourse, while teaching our children the values of our religion, they should be told that the shock and revulsion that they feel when they see a bleeding man, whichever religion he belongs to, is because killing a person is wrong. No cause can justify that.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

600 Billion Dhs skyscraper announced

New entrants to the booming and busting Dubai real-estate market, Bottomless has announced a 600 Billion Dhs skyscraper targeted at low-income residents in the UAE.

Featuring spectacular views of the Dubai traffic, a unique roof-top heating system and intermittent shower system, the structure is expected to further consolidate Dubai's position as a pioneer in innovative architecture and sustainable social communities.

Interested buyers are requested to approach the Bottomless sales offices with a 50% payment advance before our "Sold Out" double spread advert which appears next week.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Ultimate Cure

Azad Bhai is no Dallas Austin. Infact he would rarely associate himself with a rapper whose hit singles include ‘Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg’ and ‘Silly Ho’.

Possibly that is why, somewhere during his 35 year old struggle in the UAE, he decided to become a 'doctor'. The ‘doctor’ or the ‘Vaidyan’ as per a South Asian terminology, interestingly never carries a stethoscope. He looks pretty innocuous, until someone flashes a couple of 10 Dhs notes and that is when Azad Bhai will reveal his armoury, a full array of illicit liquor bottles concealed under his worn-out shirt. There are thousands of ‘doctors’ like Azad Bhai in UAE who make a living out of selling illicit liquor. And there is never a dearth of ‘patients’ either whose monthly salary will not be enough to pay a days bill in one of Dubai’s exclusive bars.

Years and years of eluding the Dubai Police and late night handling of bottle deliveries have taken a toll on Azad Bhai and now retirement seems imminent. But he is all too well aware that there are more than enough promising ‘doctors’ out there to carry forward his legacy. Besides for a man like him, an official pardon doesn't seem too likely either.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Of intelligent bindis and a mutiny

I was trying to work out some web/logo identity concepts for when I came across these photos. The beautiful 'bindi', the model is wearing here is actually embedded with an integrated chip with intelligent charging capabilities.

MindTree which is a software development consultancy firm based in India is behind the idea.

Coming back to the identity concepts, below are some options that I was trying to work out. Do drop in your feedback.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

We are Number One

Looks like some UAE publications has turned to aggressive tactics to contradict the claims of circulation of it's rivals.
This ad, presumably of 'What's On', appeared in a Campaign Middle-East Report.
So who is willing to take on 'My Favourite No:1 Newspaper' now?