Abu Dhabi as the artist's muse

The winner of the first prize connects Brand Abu Dhabi with its past and culture of fishing. (RODNEY SHANE GREENE)

The year 2010 will see closer co-operation and alignment between the Office of the Brand of Abu Dhabi and government departments, in order to boost Abu Dhabi as a brand, locally and globally.

Talking to Emirates Business Khalid Al Falasi, Head of Communication Unit, The Office of the Brand of Abu Dhabi (Obad), said: "As Abu Dhabi grew and diversified at a rapid pace, there was concern that the identity of the emiratis would get lost. So Obad was set up to ensure that this did not happen.

"The core value of Abu Dhabi is respect. Respect for the environment, for women, for culture and for religion. It has been there for generations and this needs to be reflected in all that is seen, said and experienced about Abu Dhabi.

"Our job is to protect that identity and the culture of Abu Dhabi and also make the government departments, the private sector and the public part of it."

Obad is responsible for delivering a compelling and consistent brand for Abu Dhabi which embraces the emirate's vision for the future and respects the culture, heritage and traditions of its past. It also acts as the guardian and patron of the brand, providing guidance to the public and private sectors on its application in all activities that may have an impact on the reputation of the emirate of Abu Dhabi – from tourism, to inward investment to the service industry.

Falasi said: "We are working closely with the government departments in Abu Dhabi to ensure that the core brand value of Abu Dhabi is infused in their organisational culture and is reflected through their work, all their dealing and also through all their media and advertising campaigns."

The key elements of this initiative also include international research on perceptions of the emirate and local research on how the people of Abu Dhabi understand their own identity.

Part of this research is holding workshops and competitions for the community to participate in so that their perspectives are revealed. This will lead to the development of a comprehensive brand strategy guided by the insights of these local and international studies.

"We involved the community of Abu Dhabi by holding a photography competition, titled "Abu Dhabi Through Your Eyes", every year. The idea behind the contest was to capture and preserve the identity, culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi through the eyes of its community," said Falasi. The competition was first held in 2008.

In December 2009 the organisers of photo competition invited people living in Abu Dhabi to submit unpublished images that captured the spirit of the emirate.

The organisers were overwhelmed by the response of the public as the number of applications more than doubled in the second year.

While the 2008 competition attracted 2,077 entries from 55 different nationalities, the 2009 competition attracted more than 4,000 entries from 77 different nationalities showcasing a diverse range of personal perspectives, and individual interpretations of the UAE.

Out of these 4,000 entries, ten photos were chosen.

Talking about the criteria for choosing the winners, Mark Rollinson, Director of Design, Obad, who was on the panel of judges to ensure that all the winning images were "on brand" told Emirates Business: "The image by Rodney Shane Greene, titled 'On Golden Sands' which won the first prize was a favourite right from the start. The decision to choose it as the first prize winner was unanimous as it beautifully connects the brand Abu Dhabi back to its past and its culture and heritage of fishing and deep sea diving for pearls.

Besides, it is also a beautiful picture by itself because of the light, the colours of the sea, the great use of place and because of the lovely evocative feel to it."

The ten winners were honoured at Emirates Palace Hotel in the capital recently – the first prize winner taking home Dh30,000. The second prize was worth Dh25,000, while the third, fourth and fifth prizes were Dh20,000, Dh15,000 and Dh12,000 respectively.

Five semi-finalists each received Dh10,000.

While this time the competition did not have any categories and professional and non-professional photographers were all judged in the same category, there is a likelihood that next year might see some changes and inclusion of categories.

Falasi said: "As we are trying to strengthen the brand of Abu Dhabi, the winning photos from the competition will be used to reflect Abu Dhabi in all the government media and advertising campaigns, both locally and globally and also by the government offices. These photos reflect what Abu Dhabi is all about and they are becoming the ambassadors of the brand. They will become part of Abu Dhabi's visual identity and the overall brand photographic library."

Get the book

The ten winning images will be shown at an exhibition that will tour the entire emirate. Obad has also released a coffee book titled 'Abu Dhabi Through Your Eyes 2009' featuring the top ten winning images along with other pictures.

 

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