Photo competition winner courts controversy
DOHA: Controversy raged across the regional art world this morning after the final results of the inaugural An Image For Arabia competition were announced.
The initiative, launched in Doha last month, aimed to find a picture that would “galvanise the Middle East behind a single image”, and invited people across the region to vote for their favourite. The most popular would then be used across various marketing campaigns and material.
Among the options available were photos of a group of children playing football in a dusty field, a falcon soaring majestically over a desert landscape and a gentleman steering a traditional fishing dhow. The bookies’ favourite was a small child sitting atop a camel.But when the overall winner was announced this morning there were audible gasps from the main auditorium of the Qatar Culture, Arts, Heritage, Arts and Culture Authority headquarters. Against all expectations, the runaway winner of An Image For Arabia 2012, with a whopping 94 per cent of the vote, was a picture of a fat, bored-looking man driving a four-wheeled drive.
Regional culture experts were quick to dismiss the result, many calling it an administrative error or the work of international pranksters. Within hours, #fatmandriving4x4 was trending on Twitter, and a dedicated Facebook group calling for a recount had over 450,000 members.
“It’s outrageous. What about a picture of a nice shisha pipe, or perhaps the Burj Al Arab,” tweeted Dubai-based arts luminary Roquefort Pastiche, whose online profile picture revealed him to be wearing red trousers and smoking from an exaggerated pipe.
Amid noisy scenes, a recount was held just hours after the initial announcement but organisers soon indicated that the result wasn’t going to change and the picture of a fat, bored looking man driving a four-wheeled drive would remain the winner.
“It’s such a shame after all this hard work,” exclaimed An Image For Arabia director Gillian Mabrook. “But we’re just going to have to face facts that, according to our results, the image people most associate with this place is one of a fat, bored looking man driving a four-wheeled drive.”