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Red-carded: UAE football directors sacked over 'unpatriotic' BMW advert Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Red-carded: UAE football directors sacked over 'unpatriotic' BMW advert

Many social media users in the UAE deemed the ad as 'disrespectful' [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2016

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A BMW advert starring a football team has hurt national identity and pride in the UAE, prompting the team's directors to be axed and the ad pulled from the air.
Public outcry on social media in the United Arab Emirates over a car advert deemed "unpatriotic" has led to authorities dismissing the directors of country's most successful football club and the commercial being pulled.

Emirati social media users this week were up in arms after German car giant BMW aired a TV advert starring Al Ain football club's players, "disrespecting" the UAE's national anthem.

The short ad showed the footballers lined up singing the anthem in front of a packed stadium, however, halfway through Ishy Biladi (Long live my country) the music cuts to the sweet sound of the revving engines of luxury automobiles.

The mesmerised players sprint out of the pitch, leaving behind the thousands of bewildered fans, into the parking lot where they are greeted by the latest in BMW luxury vehicles.

"National symbols are an integral part of our collective identity. With them, we rise up under the flag and national anthem that uphold our values and homeland," Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, the chairman of Al Ain, tweeted after he disbanded the team's board of directors.

"Al Ain will continue to be a national beacon and will continue its efforts to serve of the country's athletic and cultural future," he added.

BMW have responded by pulling the advert in response to the harsh backlash from many Emiratis – although a modified version will be aired in its place.

"It was never our intention to cause any offence… Out of respect for the feedback received from the community, we have removed the commercial from all platforms," a BMW's authorised distributor told local media.

The Arabic-language hashtag #StopTheBMWAdvert gained traction on Twitter shortly after the controversial ad was broadcast.

Translation: "The national anthem is bigger than the people who have disrespected it. The real people who have disrespected themselves are the people who conceived of the concept, agreed to it and then made it a reality."

Translation: "The national anthem is more important than commercial gain. It stands for loyalty, prosperity and allegiance. We will let it ring until we die to keep this nation alive."


Do you think BMW made the right decision to pull the ad? Join the conversation by tweeting us: @the_newarab

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