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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

How the UAE just made the world's biggest online encyclopedia a little bigger

Wikipedia's winning photos from Wiki Loves Emirates contest expand the country's online presence

The UAE has just got a little bigger — at least on Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia which boasts a monthly readership of nearly half a billion people.

A series of new images that reflect the country’s culture and heritage have just been added to the world’s fifth most visited website.

They were selected as part of the Wiki Loves Emirates campaign, a month long attempt to redress the problem that the UAE is under represented on Wikipedia for a country of its size.

The campaign was started by Saqib Qayyum, who divides his time between the Emirates and Russia, where he works in the oil industry, and is devoted to the cause of boosting the UAE on Wikipedia.

The appeal for images brought in more than 2,000 photos from around 200 contributors with 10 selected for inclusion as representing the UAE.

They include shots of the watch towers above Al Badiyah Mosque in Fujairah and the oldest place of Muslim worship in the country, a traditional wind tower in the heart of Ras Al Khaimah, and 5,000-year-old beehive tombs on Jebel Hafeet outside Al Ain.

Other favourites were the Maqta Tower, which once guarded the waterway between Abu Dhabi and the mainland, Dubai Museum and Qasr Al Muwaiji, the birthplace of Sheikh Khalifa, the President of the UAE.

All are available to view and download in high quality images from Wikipedia, which makes them free to use.

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Read more:

UAE Wikipedia: Marathon community effort finally gives the Emirates a proper place

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The quality of photographs was the main issue with submissions, said Mr Qayyum, 28, who is from Pakistan. “There were just 100 that were usable,” he said.

The final 10 were selected by a panel of local photographers who are volunteer Wikipedia editors. To be chosen, the pictures had to have high artistic value but also be downloadable in very high resolution.

Mr Qayyum said the initial response is only the beginning and plans to expand the search, tying it in with the annual Wiki Loves Monuments contest in September, which has the added incentive of cash prizes for the winners.

“Someone told me there are more than 500 historical sites here and I am hoping to get a photo for most of them,” he said.

In the meantime, anyone who wishes to make a further contribution to Wiki Loves the Emirates can email him at saqib.wiki@gmail.com