Thousands have come together for a social media campaign in the city, but how did it start? Benita Adesuyan finds out.
Social media has changed the way we communicate and the made the world a much smaller place, and on January 5 2014, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, used the power of online networking to put Dubai on the digital map.
#MyDubai was created as a way to create an ‘e-museum’ of life in Dubai in 2014. Sheikh Hamdan put a call out to Twitter and Instagram users to use #MyDubai to share images and videos of their memorable moments and day-to-day life in the city. Since then over 230,000 images and videos have been posted using the hashtag, which will go towards creating a digital autobiography of a city. A story told by a growing city and its inhabitants and visitors.
The Dubai Department for Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has taken up the hashtag as a means to promote the city within the Gulf region and beyond, and is managing the creation of the #MyDubai e-museum. DTCM has a mandate to achieve 20 million visitors by 2020, and Aida Al Busaidy, Senior Manager PR and Communications and her team are working to promote the hashtag and are bidding to get the whole community involved in creating a digital picture book of the city.
‘It’s not a campaign as such,’ explains Al Busaidy, who is in charge of social media and communications at DCTM. ‘People are already using the hashtag anyway – or they’re using #Dubai or something similar, it’s just collating that back-end information by using different events and themes throughout the year.’ Hashtags have been circumnavigating the digital world since the inception of Twitter, but according to Al Busaidy, this was the perfect year to launch this initiative for Dubai: ‘The idea came about after the Expo 2020 win. There was huge momentum and people praising Dubai doing creative things. If you were online at any given time while we were bidding for the Expo, you’d see the amount of content that was created was just so much. It’s just making sure that momentum continues for the coming year.’
Images and videos have been flooding in with more added almost every minute. Images of the typical sights of the skyscrapers and The Palm are juxtaposed with creative shots of families, sports events, desert safaris and pets. But, believe it or not, not everyone is connected to Twitter and Instagram so are there offline plans for the #MyDubai initiative?
Al Busaidy says that the initiative has to exist in both worlds. ‘Hopefully we will have a city-wide gallery, we’re going to activate different parts of the city, to have MyDubai represented on video screens. We’re looking at places like the malls, the airport. You can’t just assume that everyone is on social media. My mum isn’t on social media, she doesn’t even have a Facebook account, and we need to get MyDubai to that viewership – older and younger people’.
The e-museum is housed on @MyDubai the official Twitter and Instagram handles for the initiative. Every week, ten photos or videos tagged with #MyDubai will be selected by the social media team at DTCM to join the museum’s collection and will be shown on both www.instagram.com/mydubai as well as www.twitter.com/mydubai.
His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum got the ball rolling with his initial tweets saying “Via #MyDubai, we want to share with the world what life in Dubai is like: the lives of its people, their treasured moments and experiences.’
And Aida Al Busaidy confirms that he is still involved in the initiative and contributes to #MyDubai daily. ‘His Highness [Crown Prince] is a big Instagram fan – he posts almost on a daily basis and it makes sense for us to align with what he does and he always has great videos and gets a great response. It’s his baby I guess. He wants to see the growth and what we’re capturing from the back end.’
To be part of the e-museum, simply tag your photos and videos with #MyDubai on Twitter and Instagram. Al Busaidy hopes that corporations and individuals will use the label to add diversity to the collection.
‘It’s all about your life. Your story is the story of the city. We want people and companies to use the hashtag. Yes, we have these big skyscrapers, and the internet cities and media cities which is nice, but it’s great for people to tell their own stories. I think even Abu Dhabi has launched its own – but it won’t be as good as Dubai!’