August 2010

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So I barely logged in to facebook the other day, when my jaw drops at this.

And the ad takes you to this landing page.

Guerrilla marketing just got a new meaning and being 007 was never easier.

Now honestly, things like these really make you think twice about your online activity and how your online information can be misused and how you can be hunted down and targeted with ads without even recognizing it.

So why hasn’t the Lebanese government blocked this website? Isn’t it a threat to national security?

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-Update-

This pots was mentioned in Global Voices Online , Thank you Guys!

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When I was little, I would ask my parents to buy me a horse. In my opinion, ponies were not real horses, plus you would never see musketeers or Zorro on a pony, would you? So we never talked of ponies. One time, when I asked for a horse, my mom said, we had nowhere to keep the horse in our three room apartment in Minsk. I objected that we have the balcony. Then my mom said that the horse will need a lot of food and would feel very cold in the negative temperatures in the winter. So I made a compromise, and told them they could get me a camel, since a camel endures a long time without food or water and is more resistant to severe weather conditions.

Needless to say, the closest  I got to having a horse was a “mechanical horse carriage/bicycle”. It was the point of envy of all the kids around, and got stolen several times, but still me and the metallic white horse never connected.

When I saw these new version of mechanical ponies in Dunes Verdun my heart skipped a beat. I had a half a mind to rent out a mechanical pony for myself. Plus you should have seen how this adorable kid kissed the pony and bid her goodbye when his session was over.

So tell me, what kind of weird pets did you ask for as a child?

Mechanical Pony in Dunes VerdunMechanic Pony in Dunes Verdun

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In Ramadan people start behaving irrationally and gluttonously, buying everything they find in their way, buying at excess… People start buying kilos of sweets everyday. However, buying sweets, especially in the first days if Ramadan, can sometimes be a battle. The below is a video taken by our office boy at Safsouf Sweets in Beirut when he was trying to buy sweets at 3;00 pm on the second day of Ramadan. It took him one hour to buy the sweets.According to my boss, who has ordered the sweets, though Safsouf is a very old and traditional store, with no pompous decor… people go to him for genuine taste. Still I can not imagine waiting to get sweets, in a sweets shop full of aromas, for an hour while I am fasting. Could you?

I have not seen such a stampede in a shop even when I was a little girl in the USSR and food was rationed and you needed to stand for hours in line to get anything.

Ramadan Sweets Shortages – Beirut (Safsouf Sweets) from Darine Sabbagh on Vimeo.

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Google Middle East wanted to give a treat to its top  adwords clients for Ramadan. Since dates are the traditional Ramadan Treats, they have made a very cool Ramadan countdown calendar that has a date behind each day. And awesome transformation of the traditional Christmas countdown calendar which delves deeply into the roots of Middle Eastern Culture. Kudos Google!

Google Ramadan CalendarGoogle Ramadan Calendar

(Click on the images to enlarge)

Thank you @njarrar for sharing these with me.

Does your company do anything as awesome? Please share it with me :)

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Advertising and design companies around the Middle East have always worked on Ramadan greeting cards, which hold corporate messages and link back to the brands of their clients. Every year, the challenge gets even more interesting with a focus on creativity and visual impact that would surprise and inspire. But as globalization takes over the Arab world, interesting developments are easily noticed.

Starting with the design phase, all creative’s scout around for inspiration and ideas to create a card that is visually interesting, modern and creative. An essential part of “Islamic design” is the integration of old and modern Arabic calligraphy, the “star” of the visual, coupled with a layout design including interesting die cuts and new cardboard treatments and rendering the card an interesting design to display.

In the past few years, the display factor has become essential. With designers creating cards that would “stand alone” and display the message without necessarily being an actual physical card. Ideas range from regular cards to developed boxes that would hold two main messages: first, the company name, which would link the message to a specific brand and second, the actual message, which is a heartfelt wish and portrays the “humane” aspect of a caring company.

Recently, we can notice the introduction of Latin and Arabic texts at the same time, something never done in the past, a symbol of adaptation to the world and a way of sending a clear message and communicating the “Islamic life” to countries and people who do not necessarily understand the Arabic Calligraphy.

Similarly, the calligraphy, which is also a beautiful graphical element, is coupled with modern Arabic typefaces, an interesting thing to note. Calligraphy stays a visual link to the traditional Arabic past, a visual and historical story developing over time. In Ramadan, as people read and remember God’s word, they are reminded by its beauty and form (calligraphy is the Islamic expression of the beauty of Allah’s word).

I view this period as a form of advertising the Islamic world brand. All Arabs from around the Middle East unite in a similar manner (the everyday lifestyle adaptation to rituals). This unity creates a global brand forcing itself on the global audience. These greetings, given out to clients and businesses around the globe, are a simple form of communication. On one side, a certain company promotes itself (as noted above) on another side, it promotes the Islamic world, the religion, the people as one group, one complex identity, one brand.

This brand is currently evolving, integrating itself on a global, massive scale (Arabic typeface development is a simple example). On another hand, the global audience is more open to the Arabic language (with so many interested in learning it, and so many learning how to draw Arabic calligraphy) there seems to be surprising developments awaiting us in the years to come.

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Gabriel Ghali

Art Director, Blogger, Columnist, DJ

Blog: http://gghali.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @gabrielghali

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I want to thank Gaby for jump-starting this great collaboration and  his wonderful and insightful review of trends in Islamic art and the development of what is know as an “Islamic brand”, based on his many years of experience in branding and advertising in the middle east. Gaby has also provided the great gallery of cards, which we would like to contribute to as well. Just send your company’s corporate greeting card to contact [at] theidentitychef.com or add a link to it in the comment box.

Do not forget to subscribe to Gaby’s Blog and follow him on twitter for his amazing daily doses of positive vibes. While you are on Gaby’s blog download his Exotic Sensation’s Tracklist, which is simply divine.

Ramadan Moubarak My Dear Readers, I wish you Warmth, Empathy & Spiritual Uplift in this Holy Month.

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Top Tweet Lebanese Israeli Clash on August 3rd: " Israel Shoul Publish a Guide book "How to start a war and blame others 101" So running on cockiness and adrenaline after @azzi told me that my tweet became a top tweet and @ambitionista pointed me at how to actually see that, here it is:

” Israel should publish a guidebook “How to start a war and blame others 101″ #lebanese “

And this summarizes my humble opinion on yesterday’s clash. As a final bout of  cockiness, I would like to add ” Top that Israeli Social Media Propaganda” and ” I will moderate your comments on this post, and block any twitter users that try to @ me convincing me of Israel’s innocence – so do not even bother!”

Now back to my normal self, this just shows that although we are not as organized as the enemy, we could resonate together with a unified message just as strongly. The tweet was just a spur of the moment thing that came to mind, for really sarcastic tweets on any situation follow @uxsoup, this man is a treasure trove.

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