DUBAI // An online competition launched by a gold and jewellery firm to coincide with Pakistan’s independence day was taken offline after it attracted unsavoury comments on social media.
The contest, launched on Malabar Gold and Diamonds’ official Facebook page, offered people the chance to win gift vouchers by taking part in a quiz. It went online on August 14, but was taken down shortly after.
The page was “trolled” by social media users who left inappropriate and highly politicised messages directed at the Indian company.
Shamlal Ahamed, managing director – international operations of Malabar Gold & Diamonds, said the company launched the contest for its GCC-based Pakistani customers after the success of a competition held for Philippines national day.
“However, it was viewed otherwise by some in the GCC and India. Subsequently, social media was filled with misleading information about how Malabar Gold & Diamonds was celebrating Pakistan independence day. This created a lot of confusion and fiasco in India and subsequently we withdrew the campaign online,” said Mr Ahamed.
“It was causing a lot of concern, and we did not want to be dragged into unwanted controversies. As a brand we have a neutral approach and propagate mutual support and respect for all nationalities, cultures and religions. Hence, we felt it was best to withdraw the campaign.”
Indians and Pakistanis living in Dubai described the situation as “silly’ and supported Malabar Gold and its competition.
“Social media shouldn’t be taken that seriously. For all you know most of these could be ‘trolls’. I am sure most educated Indians wouldn’t make a big deal out of this and Malabar Gold should have risen above,” said Maanasaa Kumar, a 23-year-old Indian who works in an advertising agency.
S T, a 40-year-old Pakistani housewife living in Dubai, said it was sad to see how social media can negatively influence a business and its marketing.
“It’s really sad to know what happened to the Malabar campaign and how the company decided to react. In the UAE, such things never matter to anyone. There are dozens of nationalities who live together with love and peace.
“We celebrate each other’s festivals and events with open hearts. I go to Malabar because I love their Indian designs.”
Malabar Gold has been operating in the Gulf since 2008 and has 67 outlets across the region. It was founded in 1993 in Kerala and is owned by businessman M P Ahammed.