A few days ago Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Crown Prince of Dubai launched an initiative to write the world’s first autobiography of a city through social media. Playing on the popularity of hashtags as seen in 2013, the initiative aims to tell the story of modern day Dubai through the eyes of its nationals and foreign residents that have come to call this city home.

Set to run for 12months, participants are invited to contribute their photos or short videos via Instagram, Facebook and Twitter by using the hashtag #MyDubai. By doing this they will be able to introduce the unique values and culture of the Emirate to the world through social media, which has become one of the most important channels to tell a story, the world over.

In past posts we’ve spoken about the power of imagery and presented various contexts by way of sharing some of the client projects we’ve worked on. In 2011 Zaman worked with the Al Ain City Municipality to conceptualize and manage the inaugural Al Ain Photographia Award. Although this was a contest with rewards for participation provided by sponsors, the spirit of the campaign was the same as that of #MyDubai; showcase Al Ain through the eyes of its residents.

“In the fabric of Dubai there are more than 2.1 million stories – the individual lives and experiences of all those who call Dubai home. A city’s story is created by its people and as we look towards a prosperous future, it’s time to join together and show the world how 2.1 million people can create one remarkable story. Together we will create the world’s first autobiography of a city.” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed

Crowdsourced storytelling – this is a powerful aspect of the campaign. In past posts we have referred to the fundamentals of storytelling which include authenticity, honesty, consistentency. We’ve also discussed fairly extensively destination branding and how the most successful campaigns conducted by countries or cities are those that have a 100% buy-in from the local residents, who in turn become almost brand ambassadors championing key narratives to entice would-be visitors.

According to reports from the Dubai’s Department of  Tourism & Commerce, parallel to this a number of activities and events related to the hashtag will be launched throughout the year. Likewise, a specialised team will work on the project, curating people’s contributions for use across different media platforms, for example at international exhibitions and to inspire art installations, films and books.

Although its only been a couple days since launching this sounds like the makings of an interesting case study at the end of 2014 on the creative ways that destination branding can leverage social media to be more engaging. Best wishes to all participants of of #MyDubai!