When Nike first announced that it was opening a new store in The Dubai Mall last year, the rumor mill immediately went into overdrive: It’s going to be the biggest Nike store in the world! Nike will pay the highest rent in the Dubai Mall! There will be a resident DJ spinning tunes while you shop! Meanwhile, both Nike and Emaar Properties remained tight-lipped about the hotly anticipated shopping destination, though newly unveiled details provide some insight on what to expect.
Though the new Nike Dubai outpost is not the largest Nike store in the world — that distinction still belongs to New York’s NikeTown on Fifth Avenue — the store will be the biggest in the Middle East and North Africa when it cuts the proverbial ribbon in the first week of December. Occupying the capacious space that once housed the Japanese bookstore Kinokuniya, which relocated nearly two years ago, the newly-minted Nike store spans over 3,290 square meters of the best that the sporting giant has to offer, including footwear, accessories, athletic gear, a customization area, and a space dedicated entirely to women, in addition to an ongoing agenda of cultural in-store events and activities. The new space joins the lineup of other Nike outposts currently operating in Tokyo, London, Milan, Chicago, Paris, New York, Shanghai, and Beijing.
In conjunction with the launch, Nike Dubai created a series of campaign images to coincide with the store opening. Entitled We Play DXB, the campaign stars 12 budding local athletes from across the globe, who have each made the UAE their home in recent years. Lensed by Joao Canziani and styled by Chebmoha, the campaign eschews those with millions of followers whose faces we’re so used to seeing plastered everywhere, in favor of seemingly regular people to accurately portray the city’s rising youth culture. While the campaign stars all come from different backgrounds (Syria, Nigeria, UAE) and age groups (16 to 28), they all share one common interest: their love of sports.
Photographed in multiple points of the city — including the colorful streets of Karama to the industrial warehouses in Al Quoz — the main message relayed by the campaign is that home isn’t where you were born or where you see yourself in the next 10 years. Indeed, home is “where the sport is”, whether that be football for Emirati-American twins Dana and Noor Patterson, running for Sudanese athlete Widad Hassan, and even contortion if you’re Farah Ahmed, an acrobat from Lebanon.
Nike is constantly pushing the envelope when it comes to creating culturally-rich campaigns that pay homage to Middle Eastern athletes and effectively capture the region’s spirit. The recent short film, “What Will They Say About You?” starring Balqees Fathi, Amal Mourad, Arifa Bseiso, Inès Boubakri, and figure skater Zahra Lari, and narrated by Saudi artist Fatima Al-Banawi immediately comes to mind. The newest campaign is no different. By showcasing the various facets of Dubai and the diverse athletes that make up the city’s population, Nike continues to just do it when it comes to empowering the next generation of Arab athletes.