A group of resourceful IT professionals based in Dubai have started a social media campaign to "reiterate their faith" in the city. Their website, istillbelieveindubai.com, which features a pledge, went live on Sunday evening. In less than a few hours of its launch, the site garnered more than 309 registrations.
"We're averaging a pledge every two or three minutes. The momentum is building," said Ziad, who bought the domain name in November last year and who won't reveal his second name.
"The website is not about us and we don't want any personal gain out of it," he said. "We wanted to go live on National Day in December but didn't have the time. So we thought we'd go live in time for the Burj Dubai opening."
Featuring a written pledge, which urges visitors to participate and spread the word, the campaign, which actively uses social media sites Twitter and Facebook, is completely non-commercial, its promoters said.
"We've felt that we needed to commemorate the country's achievements with a simple heartfelt pledge since we believe in what the country stands for as we look forward for more success, trend setting, and great landmarks," reads one part of the pledge.
A live graphic at the bottom of the page measures registrations by nationality and location. At the time of going to press, a majority of those, at 43 per cent, were from other countries in the Middle East while 24 per cent were Emiratis. The next biggest group was from Asia at 13 per cent, followed by those from Europe at eight per cent. Unsurprisingly, the biggest number of registrants, at 75 per cent, lived in the UAE, with the rest from Europe, Asia and Africa.
"It's nice to see that people who are outside of the country are also signing the pledge," said Ziad, a Lebanese. "Many of them are people who have lived here and who wish to come back. That was one of the inspirations for the website. We wanted to show that despite all of the problems Dubai has had, we have faith it will shine through.
"If, like me, you've lived in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon, you'll know this is one of the best cities in the region. And this is our way of getting like-minded people together."
The next step, his colleague Wassim explained, was to turn it into a full-fledged community website in the user generated content (UGC) format. "We want it to remain a grassroots movement to show we are all grateful to what Dubai has given to us," said Wassim.
"We want to make it a bit more interactive, a hub for people in Dubai to get together and we want users to come back and create."
Another group on Facebook, called 'I Believe in Dubai!' already has more than 2,700 members.
"Many of us who have come here to make a living and who have lived here for many years want to combat the negativity," said Ziad, who, along with Wassim and friends Saleh and Bader, are currently building the website. It will remain a non-commercial initiative, he said. "Currently, our after hours are dedicated to this."
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