Is @Dubai_360 a work of genius or a Google Street View imitation?

There’s a fine line between inspiration and mimicry. At the beginning of the year, Dubai’s Tourism and Culture Marketing body launched Dubai 360, which it markets as the world’s largest and highest quality interactive city tour.

Launched with some amazing video shoots (one of which you can see below which featured local social media celebrity Max Of Arabia), Dubai 360 offers visitors a glimpse into some of Dubai’s most iconic locations such as Burj Khalifa and the Palm. The visuals contain 360° photos and videos and a range of different lens styles such as fisheye to give viewers a unique picture of Dubai wherever they may be.

While the site is very impressive, it is reminiscent of Google Street View. Launched in 2007, Google Street View provides panoramic views of both cities and notable tourist spots around the world. Google actually launched its Street View in Dubai in December 2014.

Dubai 360 has some stunning visuals and videos, and helps tourists understand Dubai from a variety of views. However, with both sites being launched only a month or so apart, would Dubai have been better placed to work with Google to create a co-branded/sponsored site? There’s enough to make the Dubai 360 site outstanding, but will viewers feel that there’s enough here to mark it out as a different experience to Google Street View?

Have a look at the images below, one of Burj Khalifa from Dubai 360 and the other of Burj Khalifa from Google View, and if you haven’t yet checked out Dubai 360 do so. Now.

#MyDubai and the issue of whether to pay the public for content

The first images from #MyDubai's initiative provided for free by Dubai residents (image source: www.facebook.com/DefinitelyDubai)

The first images from #MyDubai’s initiative provided for free by Dubai residents (image source: http://www.facebook.com/DefinitelyDubai)

To pay or not to pay? That’s the question. The city-state has launched an interesting project based on social media, dubbed as a social-media autobiography of Dubai to be written by its residents and visitors. To quote The National newspaper:

The year-long project will bring together people in the emirate through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. A call has gone out to share pictures and videos using the hashtag #MyDubai.

According to The National the project will tell the real and human stories of the city through residents’ contributions which are posted onto Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (there’s no mention of YouTube and Pinterest which is a shame).

The National followed up today with a second piece on the initiative. Tourism bosses from Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) will select the best photographs and videos from the Emirate’s residents and showcase them in exhibitions and roadshows as part of the year-long #MyDubai project. The public’s images will be used to promote Dubai throughout the year.

What isn’t mentioned is if the public are going to be paid for their images which are going to be used for advertising the Emirate. As any content producer knows, photography and videography are expensive. While those lucky few whose images get chosen – to quote The National, “more than 25,000 images and videos were uploaded to Instagram using #MyDubai just 12 hours after the campaign was launched” – will be referenced and have been so far online on DTCM’s Definitely Dubai Facebook site is it right to use images provided by the public for free (even if it is with their consent).

And on another note, who owns the copyright to the images? Are the images commissioned by DTCM for their explicit use or do the copyright owners of the images, have the ability to pull the images as and when they please if they object to how the images are portrayed?

I love the concept of #MyDubai but should the public be paid for images that are used, even if only a token amount? If it’s for corporate usage, then I think they should do.