Mall of The Emirates Ramadan Display by Gregg Nelson
Parker 3D, the New Jersey company known for worldwide synchronized light shows, was invited to re-envision one of the largest shopping atrium spaces in the world for Ramadan. The venue is the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, which is known around the world as "The mall with the ski slope."
Ramadan, the solemn month-long observance of the Muslim faith, has a tradition of understated decorations, particularly as compared with western holidays like Christmas that get extravagant décor even in the Middle East. "When we filled that space with lights, the cell phone cameras went up and so did the local Emirates' spirits. You could feel the satisfaction of their holiday getting the respect it deserves," said John Carter, Director of Parker 3D from South Orange, NJ.
The move to a more substantial focus on Ramadan may very well be another ripple in the wave that emerged as the Arab Spring. Local sentiment in Middle East shopping center marketing has been building over recent years to transition toward a stronger focus on local culture.
Parker 3D has long demonstrated a pride in diversity of background and religious beliefs. "It's always been a kick to be a Muslim designer working with Christians, Jews, and agnostics to create Christmas displays. We all really enjoyed honoring the Muslim holiday for a change," said Nawaz Tareen, of Union, lead graphic designer on the project.
The more subtle lighting for Ramadan was best described by Fuad Sharaf, Vice President of Mall of the Emirates: “In the US, you want to say "Wow!" In Dubai, for this holiday, we want to say "Ahhh."”
"It was great to be part of a team that designed a display with such meaning behind it, and it's intriguing that it will reach people in another part of the world that we may never meet. Doing that on this sort of scale really makes it more than just décor." Gregg Nelson, Industrial Designer, Plainfield, NJ.