A photography contest has proved so popular that 24 special boxes were placed around Abu Dhabi to collect entries.
Photo contest attracts 2,000 entries
ABU DHABI // An amateur photography competition has proved so popular that 24 special boxes were placed around Abu Dhabi when the organiser's office could no longer cope with the flood of entries. The contest, the first of its kind in the emirate, received 2,077 entries from 55 nationalities. "It was wonderful to see that people didn't just focus on Abu Dhabi city," said Reem al Shemari, the general manager of the Office of the Brand of Abu Dhabi (Obad), which ran the competition.
"We received such a wide variety of images. Certainly there were numerous photos of the city skyline, but we had entries from Al Gharbia, the Al Ain mountains and some of the really remote desert areas." There were no specific categories in the competition, so as not to restrict creativity. But the most popular themes were people, landscape, heritage and architecture - old and new. Among other subjects were the UAE's falconry and equestrian culture, farming in Al Gharbia, dhows, the desert and Bedouin and more abstract themes.
Miss Shemari said the competition was Obad's "first outreach to the public" since it was launched last year to raise awareness of the emirate, both locally and internationally. "We never expected to be so inundated with such a huge response," she said. "It has been truly overwhelming and really shows how involved people in the emirate are. It is a reflection of people's passion for Abu Dhabi and their interaction with a project like this."
Such was the response to the competition that Obad had to place 24 boxes in 11 locations around Abu Dhabi, including the supermarket Spinneys and Abu Dhabi Mall, for people to post their entries after Obad's office was inundated. Entries to the competition - a project created by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi - will soon be whittled down to 10 finalists, a job which the judges are said to be finding "very difficult", such is the high calibre of the photographs.
The final 10 will be announced next month and have their work displayed at an exhibition in the capital. The first prize is Dh30,000 (US$8,165) and the finalists' work will be used as part of the brand's publicity campaign. Obad reports directly to the Executive Council and was created to market the emirate as a tourist destination. It also works with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and is developing fields such as investment.
When Obad launched in November, Miss Shemari said that it was time for Abu Dhabi to have its own branding, to embody what she calls the "unique identity and personality" of the emirate, something she says goes "so much deeper than tourism". The competition was one of the means of finding the best way to market Abu Dhabi, she said, using the views and creations of those people who live here. "Culture and heritage are next on the list to encourage foreign investment here," said Miss Shemari.
She says that the competition is "in the spirit of Sheikh Zayed", continuing the work he began during his time as President and "father" of the UAE. "It's very important to retain the history and culture of the emirate. It shows that people understand what the feeling of the emirate is. "Seeing the entries, we also see how strong people's ties with this emirate are and how people here embrace it as their home. This competition has shown a bond between the emirate and all its nationalities."