x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Thousands respond to Instagram appeal to support Dubai’s Expo 2020 bid

Images have been uploaded of Emiratis and expatriates holding the Expo2020 badge or wearing T-shirts with the logo in front of landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Italy’s Leaning tower of Pisa, Berlin’s Brandenburg Tor, London’s Big Ben and Mumbai’s Gateway of India.

Eenas Al Sheakh, an Expo 2020 ambassador, who has been receiving thousands of pictures in support of the expo bid on an Istagram account to promote and spread awareness. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Eenas Al Sheakh, an Expo 2020 ambassador, who has been receiving thousands of pictures in support of the expo bid on an Istagram account to promote and spread awareness. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

ABU DHABI // When Eeanas El Sheakh posted a photo on Instagram of herself and the UAE’s Expo 2020 ambassadors with a message asking people to back Dubai’s bid, she did not expect the outpouring of support that followed.

Thousands of images were soon being added to the photo sharing app of Emiratis and expatriates holding the Expo 2020 badge or wearing T-shirts with the logo in front of landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre in Paris, Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, London’s Big Ben and Mumbai’s Gateway of India.

An emotional Mrs El Sheakh says she receives more than a dozen photographs each day along with enthusiastic messages such as “All the best to our country,” “We support you, UAE” and “We believe in Dubai Expo 2020”.

“This moves me, I’m overwhelmed,” said Mrs Sheakh, a language teacher and tour guide. She is one of eight expatriate and Emirati Expo ambassadors chosen last year to spread the word about the bid.

“Tears are very near when I see the word ‘Expo’ written shakily by a small child on a board. It also makes me smile because it’s like magic – it is so beautiful that the pictures are coming from everywhere.

“People are sending pictures from America, Australia, Africa, Asia. When I sent the message, I did not imagine there could be so much connectivity with photographs.”

The official Instragram page dubaiexpo2020ambassadors was set up in December last year, introducing the world fair and the country’s ambassadors. Mrs Sheakh launched the support campaign in June.

Responses flowed in from across the world. In one image, a smiling child holds up a blue Expo card with the backdrop of lions stretching out in Kenya’s Masai Mara.

In others, an Expo pin is balanced on a rock on Samui Island off Thailand’s east coast, held against the blue skies and green slopes of the Austrian Alps in Kitzbuhel or framed against a cable car high up over Hong Kong’s Lantau island.

The campaign also attracted support from around the region with photographs of Kuwait City’s skyline juxtaposed against an Expo logo inscribed on a mobile phone cover.

One photograph shows the UAE’s emblem of a golden falcon perched near the Expo logo, while another has the words “Dubai Expo 2020” etched in sand dunes.

Mariam Al Medfaei, an Emirati and co-founder of fashion company 1001 Abayas, registered her support with photographs of the blue Expo motif on garments and scarves.

“We are using our fashion to support the bid,” she said.

“It is very important for the UAE to win because it will boost the economy and open up new horizons. Geographically the UAE is a strategic location for the Expo. Business-wise it will be good. These photographs link people’s support.”

Mrs Sheakh won her spot as an ambassador after she submitted the poem “Once upon a dream” about the vision of unity of Sheikh Zayed, the nation’s founding father.

“I believe if you have a dream you must stick to it and a dream can come true,” said Mrs Sheakh.

“We believe in this so much, we believe the UAE will win and all we are doing is a step toward this goal.”

The decision will be announced next month at a general assembly of the Bureau International des Exhibitions, the governing body. The contest is between Dubai, Turkey’s Izmir, Russia’s Ekaterinburg and Brazil’s Sao Paulo.

rtalwar@thenational.ae