WILL Shah Rukh Khan in a hoodie make you drop your holiday plans and head to Dubai?
That’s the intention of the latest ad campaign by Dubai Department of Tourism, which wants to showcase the glitzier side of the manufactured country that used to be sand and desert until they unearthed oil.
That currency, and a forward thinking leadership, went a long way towards building the nation — one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates— into a showpiece of ingenious development to entice the rich and famous.
The Burj Al Arab, Emirates Airline, a ski slope and a steady procession of celebrities setting up home and business in Dubai helped put the country on the world stage.
On A New Trail
To renew interest in Dubai, the ad campaign featuring Khan took a path out of the dessert and camels into the city and a celebrity lifestyle.
Khan is the latest in a long line of celebrity travel endorsements. Over the years Hugh Jackman, Chris Hemsworth and Paul “Crocodile Dundee” Hogan were the faces of Tourism Australia; Usain Bolt and Alicia Keys have represented Jamaica; and teeny bopper Taylor Swift and viral music sensation Psy have supported tourism in New York and South Korea, respectively.
But these are nationals promoting their own country’s offerings.
Khan’s Celebrity Draw
Dubai may lack the global celebrity to fly its flag, and the choice of Khan is interesting.
In between Asia and Europe, and very close to India, it would seem that Khan as choice of ambassador would be a strategic play. The rise of Bollywood and Khan’s own standing as the king of Hindi cinema with his good looks, acting chops and affable off-screen personality would entice the growing band of wealthy Indians looking for new places to spend and place their funds.
The rapidly expanding India middle class may give Dubai new audiences to appeal to. And Khan’s spreading influence — his films in recent years have reached screens in the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia — has given Dubai a new way to entice them.
The promotional video featuring Khan in the suk, skydiving, jogging, shopping and as a celebrity waiter has notched 7.5 million views in a month, which speaks for the Indian star’s pull…at least on screens. Whether this translates into a spike in tourism numbers will still depend on what’s on offer and the cost of the exercise.
Just flights and hotels can cost upwards of $2,500 for three days. Skydiving, as seen in the video, can set you back almost $800 and accommodation at hotels on The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai’s palm shaped artificial archipelago, start at a minimum of $500. Shopping at the Dubai’s designer malls and dining in their luxe restaurants come with similarly hefty price tags you would face in any major metropolis.
For the intended audience of wealthy individuals who may be pleased to have Khan as a neighbour, there are other notables with homes on the exclusive developments like the Palm — David Beckham, Giorgio Armani, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Brad Pitt. Not to mention the private jet-setting business elite who make global moves.
Whether Khan’s efforts are effective, will be up for discussion. But the video oozes class and style, which are in keeping with the objectives that Dubai have set for itself.
At the very least, Dubai has done better than Singapore Tourism Board’s effort from 2014 that became an Internet hit for all the wrong reasons.