The brainchild of two Emirati women, Wild Arab West has created the WAW Machine, situated in the Dubai Design District, that dispenses compliments to passersby.
Wild Arab West, according to its creators, is a “concept created by two Emiratis, Hessa [Ali Alechla] and Iman [Almidfa], as a platform aimed at highlighting the fusion between Eastern and Western culture through art, lifestyle and entertainment.”
The duo write “After enjoying memes and fun western products for years, it was time to focus on the pop Arab culture and highlighting the current shift in Arab millennials identity.”
Offering merchandise such as T-shirts, phone covers and sweatshirts on their website, the partners have also come up with an idea for Dubai Design District (d3) – a vending machine that dispenses kindness.
Alechla and Almidfa are the creators of the WAW Machine that gives out compliments in Arabic and English –– hoping to bring a little light into people’s boring, if not dreary days now that there is some kind of ‘normalisation’ after the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Al Monitor, “the project’s roots lie in mental health awareness and promoting a more supportive society spirit.”
“There was just last month [in October] mental health awareness week, and it’s definitely something that we wanted to focus on, especially now that everything’s going back to normal regarding COVID,” co-founder Almidfa tells Al Monitor.
“We felt like we needed to start off with something positive. Our main aim behind all of our initiatives is basically to brighten people’s day and just lift people up because I feel, especially after COVID, we really need some self-love and to be kind to one another.”
With a small push of a button, recipients get a small, colored box with a card inside from a vending machine that tells them lovely phrases such as “I would give up coffee for you” or “Has anyone told you how great you are?”
Al Monitor reports that the machine is a huge hit and there are lines to see what positive messages it contains. WAW has reportedly printed 3,500 messages so far and based on the success of the WAW Machine, one can imagine they will have to print more.
“We’re refilling several times on a daily basis. We used some of the phrases we posted on our Instagram account that we noticed had the most shares or were most popular with our followers,” Almidfa tells Al Monitor.
“A lot of people have been messaging us and asking when we’re going to be around to meet us. We’ve been getting a lot of support from our fans and we appreciate that.”
Sara Abdulla, a passerby interviewed by Al Monitor, received “You’re dazzling” in her box as a special compliment from the WAW Machine. Walking through d3 on her way to work, she says the installation gave her a boost for the day.
“I think they want to give you an optimistic moment,” Abdulla says. “I was just walking past and wondered what they were selling, only to realize it was a fun thing. I just pressed a random number and you get a little something that makes your day.”
“It surprises you, makes you curious. They’re giving positive vibes to everyone,” she says.
According to Al Monitor, Alechla and Almifda began WAW during the 2020 lockdown to bridge Eastern and Western culture in a humorous way. Their Instagram account was anonymous for the first six months, leading many to think the duo were male, leading to a surprising revelation that it was two young women behind the scenes.
Thanks to the success of their uplifting content, their Instagram page now has upwards of 56 thousand followers.
The duo were used to seeing projects focusing on Western or Emirati culture, and felt that they needed to step in with an alternative.
“It’s kind of our quarantine baby,” Almidfa tells Al Monitor. “We feel like now the younger generation has a lot of Western influence, but we still want to keep our own culture alive, so we wanted to create something and it started as an Instagram platform. We create memes and scenarios which people can relate to.”
Al Monitor reports that for now, the WAW Machine will be staying on at d3 and improving people’s moods with a little kindness.
THUMBNAIL PHOTO: Instagram/dubaidesignweek
HEADLINE PHOTO: Instagram/wildarabwest
Source: TRTWorld and agencies