You are not entitled to criticize the government in the United Arab Emirates. You cannot elect members of Parliament, unless you belong to a select college of voters. And if you’re a migrant, you pretty much have no rights whatsoever. But between now and July 18, one thing you can do is vote on the UAE’s new national logo.
The Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates has invited residents to select one of five logos that best “reflects the UAE’s global economic and political status and its diverse and attractive cultural and business environment,” the PM’s official website says. The final logo will be used as a marketing tool aimed at luring tourists and businesses alike. Concepts, posted here, range from a wordmark inspired by Emirati fabrics to a geometric abstraction of the seven Emirates, which looks an awful lot like Russian Constructivism (perhaps not the best way to say, “spend money here”).
There’s something vaguely unappetizing about offering a vote on something no one really cares about (quick, cite a national logo!). What’s more, it isn’t clear that the people’s choice will ultimately be adopted. “We invite you to take part in selecting one of the 5 designs that appear on this page,” the website says. Note: “take part in,” not “make,” the selection. That seems to leave plenty of room for the powers-that-be to hand down the final decision. But who are we to judge? Here in America, we never even got to choose our own piece of garbage.