For the next week I will be volunteering at the 2013 International Festival of University Theater taking place at the University of Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. This year they will be celebrating the United States, and delegates from Kennesaw State University (my current school of study, for those who do not know), will be participating in the opening and closing ceremonies.
My route to get there was not the shortest. To get from Johannesburg to Morocco, I had to take two 8 ½ hour flights with an 18 hour layover in between. My layover just so happen to be in Abu Dhabi ~ very Sex in the City like!!! Taking advantage of my very, very, very long halt in travel, I perused the streets, visited Corniche Beach and used the Internet whenever it was available to me. Free wi-fi is like finding little nuggets of gold around these parts.
While using the Internet for both business and pleasure, I noticed that I did not have access to certain websites or blogs that I visit regularly; nothing, in my opinion with questionable content. Then I began to think – how was a movie like Sex in the City 2, a show with beyond risqué content, filmed in a city with Internet restrictions??? Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda and Samantha – four women who kept myself, and millions of others entertained for years. From the television series to highly anticipated movies, Sex in the City fans followed these women (and their fashion) all the way to Abu Dhabi!!!
According to several online newspapers (ArabianBusiness.com, guardian.co.uk, etc.), Sex in the City was NOT filmed in Abu Dhabi. The movie did not receive permission to film and some sources say its theatrical release was banned in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The UAE is a region that is known for its conservative culture and we all know that there is nothing conservative about Samantha.
So where did they film the movie – Marrakech, Morocco. Not one scene was filmed in Abu Dhabi…how rude of them to deceive us *insert angry face*. You are probably wondering, how this ties into communications and public relations, or maybe you don’t care – but this is pretty major. I don’t know about you and your friends, but after seeing Sex in the City 2, the lovely scenery, and the awesome hotel in “Abu Dhabi”, my friends and I were ready to plan a girl’s trip!!!
Travel and tourism falls under the umbrella of public relations; how a country presents its best cities to entice travelers to visit and ultimately stimulate their economy. There is no doubt in my mind that despite the fact Abu Dhabi was not on board with the film, their travel and tourism sector reaped the benefits. The not so subliminal message that every viewer of Sex in the City 2 received was Abu Dhabi is a beautiful place to vacay, with great food, amazing shopping and tons of other things to explore. During my very, very, very long layover, I found all these things to be true ~ and apparently you can also experience those delights in Marrakech, Morocco!!!
Until next time…