I Wonder Why, Dubai

The promo brochure for the Dubai Lynx Awards sets a real haughty tone for the new awards show, as written by Jonathan Harries, the global Creative Director of Draft/FCB:

What if we had an awards show where we took all the good things from other awards shows, and none of the bad?
If we said to people, “Bring your great ideas, your brilliant layouts, your mindblowing copy, your wonderful sense of design and editing, your awe-inspiring digital and, of course, your imagination.
But please, those of you who wish to enter, leave behind the scam and the hype and the dull and the dreary and most of all, your delusions.
If we could say all of that then we would truly have one of the best advertising awards shows in the world.
The good news, as I see it, is we can. This is the inaugural. The first ever Dubai Lynx Awards show.
It’s one of the greatest opportunities we will ever have.

It goes on to say: “The launch of the annual Dubai Lynx Awards in the Middle East and North Africa brings with it a great opportunity to establish standards of creative excellence in advertising throughout the region. The Dubai Lynx Awards is organised and presented by the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.”
OK, so far, so good. Then you get to the rules section:

All entries must be conceived and created in one or any of the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Islamic Republic of
Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, West Bank and Gaza, Western Sahara, Yemen.

Hmm…notice anyone left out? Let me just say this, that when you ban Israeli advertising agencies (which include subsidiaries of every major global ad agency you can name, including Mr. Harries’ own Draft/FCB) from entering an awards show honoring creative excellence in the Middle East, then you’ve blown one of the “great opportunities” to do something positive in that part of the world.
Certainly it isn’t a language barrier, as many of the winning ads seem to have their share of English (the print work does, and at least some of the tv commercials are subtitled that way).
Not to start a jihad here, but can anyone tell me the reasoning behind this? ‘Cause if there’s a legitimate reason, I’d like to know.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. momo dou lomm says:

    Well, it’s like how Israel’s soccer team plays against England and Croatia to get a chance to play in the European Championships. They don’t play in the Asian Cup (where the other middle east countries play in).
    I guess the same ‘segregation’ applies here.
    And in everything else. The Israelis aren’t exactly real big pals of the arab nations.
    While there’s nothing wrong in bringing this up, there seems to be a big gap in your socio-political understanding of this region.

  2. You’re right, there’s nothing wrong with bringing this up. That’s why I asked; I didn’t know the answer.
    But as far as the gap in my understanding goes, I think there’s a bigger logic gap in promoting a show that purports to promote “creative excellence throughout the region” when not every country in that region gets to participate. And areas like “West Bank and Gaza” are included in the list of “countries” when they’re not countries–yet. Wouldn’t this awards show be better off to claim that it promotes “creative excellence in the Arab world?” It’s a subtle difference, but it’d be more precise.

  3. daveednyc says:

    My guess is that Dubai awards show was in some manner officially sanctioned by the Dubai Emirate government, even thought it’s a function of private companies. To have Israeli representation at the show (note that the rules say “countries”) might imply Dubai’s recognition of the State of Israel.

  4. daveednyc says:

    Also, there’s no way for Israeli entrants to attend the show. UAE will not let anyone enter the country bearing an Israeli passport.

  5. Right, Daveed, I figured they couldn’t attend, but I thought they may still would be able to enter work in the show.

  6. Prettyfly69 says:

    Guys it’s pretty simple, the Middle East is not a defined region it’s an word used to sum up a rough group of countries, that are not officially grouped together. For example Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia are all n North Africa. So why are they in a Middle Eastern awards offering?
    In this part of the world, most of the regional MENA (Middle East North Africa) hubs, be they internationally owned (all at a minority level)or local enitities, do not include Israel. Only in News reports is it lumped in with the Middle East (as in the Middle East problem). In most of the large international networks Israel comes under the supervision of the European HQ.
    And geo politically if you talk about the Middle East you are usually discussing The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries and the Levant (all french speaking Arab Countries, Jordan, Syria Lebanon, etc) neither of which include Israel.
    SO there are many reasons, but also the big one, primarily in the eyes of the Middle Eastern Governments, Israel is not recognised as a legal state.

  7. daveednyc says:

    Prettyfly69, if you reread the post, you’ll see that the show is in fact billed as “The Dubai Lynx Awards in the Middle East and North Africa”.
    And you are misinformed: Israel is very much part of the Levant. Check your history.
    But the point is, geographic labels, misnomers, what have you, have nothing do to with it. It’s pure politics.