Modhesh has created divided opinion among both adults and children.
Modhesh has created divided opinion among both adults and children.

Modhesh, the love to hate Dubai festival mascot, comes under the microscope

DUBAI // Few things in Dubai have spurred the divided reaction he has: from his inescapable presence and hundreds of merchandising items, to a Facebook campaign calling for his cuddly demise.

Not many people, however, could have predicted that Modhesh (pronounced Mud-Hish), the worm-like shopping festival mascot whose name means “excited”, would become the subject of academic study.

For the past 11 years, the overly chirpy yellow figure has popped up on street corners and in shops across the emirate to promote the Dubai Summer Surprises festival.

Last month he appeared alongside Mickey Mouse as a topic of sober analysis on the pages of the Marketing Review journal.

“I was analysing various successful brands in the GCC and then I came across Modhesh,” explained author Dr K Prakash Vel, an associate professor in business at the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

“We prepared a case study on how Modhesh was nurtured as a brand to demonstrate theories of brand development.”

Dr Vel said Modhesh was selected because he was “iconic” within the region and had followed similar brand development to that of Mickey Mouse.

The character was created 11 years ago and has evolved to include more than 1,000 merchandise items, from novelty pens to cuddly toys.

He is also the focal point of the annual summer Modhesh World attraction, which has attracted up to half a million visitors in previous years.

Dr Vel’s study compared Modhesh’s evolution as a sub-brand of Dubai Summer Surprises to several theories of marketing development.

In the paper, he said Modhesh followed a fairly typical development path, which he described as ‘conception, nurturing and sustenance’.

“Modhesh has been promoted efficiently from the beginning right up until the nurturing stage,” he said.

However, he suggested that the current mode of understanding brands did not take fully into account the potential profitability of sub-brands, like Modhesh.

“Modhesh has helped us expose a gaping hole in the literature,” he said, adding that he would continue to do further research, although not necessarily orientated around Modhesh.

The character is owned by Dubai Events and Promotions Establishment (Depe) but was originally created as a simple sketch by the freelance artist Romulo Miclat.

Mr Miclat said he had been mildly surprised by the success of the character, and often wished he had brokered a royalties contract.

But he is not entirely happy with how the character has changed over time.

“They make these big mascots which are displayed all over Dubai,” Mr Miclat said.

“Sometimes, the way they have done it, it looks a bit scary. It’s not the same as what I’ve drawn originally. In the original illustration it was very friendly. The way I see it in the malls, or around the city, it’s not the exact same design.”

The mascot’s rise does have its critics. A Facebook group called “Death to Modhesh” was set up three years ago and attracted more than 1,000 members, playing on similar groups and websites attacking other mascots around the world. Some posts present tongue-in-cheek solutions to eliminating the wormy character, such as guillotining a Modhesh toy, or taking a blowtorch to billboards displaying his image.

Sherif Abaza, the group’s founder says some of the reactions were slightly “extreme”, and admits he was in mixed minds about restarting the campaign to ban the “yellow abomination”.

“The last few years I haven’t felt as strongly about him as when I launched the group. Maybe I’ve just got used to it, although I wouldn’t want to say that it’s grown on me.”

Mr Miclat said acknowledged Modhesh has fans and detractors.“You can’t please everyone,” he said. “Most of the kids like Modhesh but some of them, they really hate him.”

Perhaps the brand owners of Modhesh, had taken note of the group’s message, Mr Abaza said.


The line-up as it stands for the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia on April 27

50-man Royal Rumble

Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar (champion) v Roman Reigns

Casket match
The Undertaker v Rusev

Intercontinental Championship
Seth Rollins (champion) v The Miz v Finn Balor v Samoa Joe

SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Bludgeon Brothers v The Usos

Raw Tag Team Championship
Sheamus and Cesaro v Bray Wyatt and Matt Hardy

United States Championship
Jeff Hardy (champion) v Jinder Mahal

Singles match
Triple H v John Cena

To be confirmed
AJ Styles will defend his WWE World Heavyweight title and Cedric Alexander his Cruiserweight Championship, but matches have yet to be announced


Inter Milan 2 (Vecino 65', Barella 83')

Verona 1 (Verre 19' pen)

The biog

Favourite food: Tabbouleh, greek salad and sushi

Favourite TV show: That 70s Show

Favourite animal: Ferrets, they are smart, sensitive, playful and loving

Favourite holiday destination: Seychelles, my resolution for 2020 is to visit as many spiritual retreats and animal shelters across the world as I can

Name of first pet: Eddy, a Persian cat that showed up at our home

Favourite dog breed: I love them all - if I had to pick Yorkshire terrier for small dogs and St Bernard's for big


Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside


Name: Ejari
Based: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Founders: Yazeed Al Shamsi, Fahad Albedah, Mohammed Alkhelewy and Khalid Almunif
Sector: PropTech
Total funding: $1 million
Investors: Sanabil 500 Mena, Hambro Perks' Oryx Fund and angel investors
Number of employees: 8

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Scream VI

Directors: Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett

Stars: Melissa Barrera, Jasmin Savoy Brown, Jack Champion, Dermot Mulroney, Jenna Ortega, Hayden Panettiere and Courteney Cox

Rating: 3/5

UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

If you go:
The flights: Etihad, Emirates, British Airways and Virgin all fly from the UAE to London from Dh2,700 return, including taxes
The tours: The Tour for Muggles usually runs several times a day, lasts about two-and-a-half hours and costs £14 (Dh67)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on now at the Palace Theatre. Tickets need booking significantly in advance
Entrance to the Harry Potter exhibition at the House of MinaLima is free
The hotel: The grand, 1909-built Strand Palace Hotel is in a handy location near the Theatre District and several of the key Harry Potter filming and inspiration sites. The family rooms are spacious, with sofa beds that can accommodate children, and wooden shutters that keep out the light at night. Rooms cost from £170 (Dh808).


Championship play-offs, second legs:

Aston Villa 0
Middlesbrough 0

(Aston Villa advance 1-0 on aggregate)

Fulham 2
Sessegnon (47'), Odoi (66')

Derby County 0

(Fulham advance 2-1 on aggregate)


Saturday, May 26, Wembley. Kick off 8pm (UAE) 

Most Read
Top Videos

The UAE Today

The latest news and analysis from the Emirates

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      The UAE Today