x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Duo campaigns to put Al Gharbia on tourism radar

Duaa Mukhayar and Yusra Hasan produced a bilingual, multimedia marketing campaign for Al Gharbia after an idle Eid chat.

Until last month, neither Duaa Mukhayar nor Yusra Hasan had even been to Al Gharbia. Little did they suspect that their idle Eid chat would result in the two Emirati students producing a bilingual, multimedia campaign for the region.

"Some people think it's just a desert," said Ms Mukhayar, 22.

"It's not. There are seven cities."

Away from the capital, where both have always lived, they discovered the history of Liwa, the Island of Pearls (Delma Island), the wildlife of Sir Bani Yas Island and the life of fishermen in Mirfa.

Entitled "The Legend", their campaign encompasses a booklet in Arabic and English, a photo gallery and a three-minute documentary.

First, though, they had to raise the money to fund the project, which ended up costing nearly Dh50,000. "Many doors were shut for us, except those who thought it was their national duty to do something for the heritage of the UAE," said Ms Mukhayar. The pair ended up using her father's contacts to find funding from private companies.

There were battles with their families, too. When Ms Mukhayar first put the idea of a trip that would include nights sleeping out on remote islands to her parents, their response was: "What? Are you crazy!" she recalls. "You can't stay out. You have to come back home."

Ms Hasan, 24, faced a similar response, but eventually they said both families were won over.

"I stood with them shoulder to shoulder from the first step until the end," said Fehmi Mukhayer, Duaa's father. He accompanied them on overnight adventures, including one to the Saudi border. "These two young ladies needed support."

Yesterday, at the launch of "The Legend" at Zayed University, the proud father said: "Wherever you are, whoever you are, when you insist to do something, you can do it."

The result, said Marilyn Roberts, the dean of communications and media sciences at Zayed University, was well worth it.

"I am delighted they focused continually on tourism and cultural aspects of the UAE.

"We're very proud of these two students."

As for the two young women, they say this is just the beginning of "The Legend". Next, they plan to make a long-form documentary and presentations about the natural and cultural assets of Al Gharbia.

ffaruqui@thenational.ae