screenshot of the website and the banner that pops up on Wikipedia pages Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Wikipedia, the popular online encyclopedia, is running a monthlong photography campaign “Wiki Loves Emirates” in the UAE this April.

If you have used the Wikipedia in the past few days, you might have noticed a banner at the top of every Wikipedia page mentioning “Wiki Loves Emirates “. The Wiki Loves UAE campaign has been launched to improve one of the world’s most popular website’s coverage of the UAE, said Saqib Qayyum, a volunteer with the Wikipedia help desk.

The prominent Wikipedia editor hailing from Pakistan said the online photography campaign is conducted through a website that can be accessed at wluae.com According to the site, Wikipedia, which receives over 15 billion page views each month, doesn’t cover subjects on the UAE nearly as well as it does on all other parts of the world.

“Of all of the millions of subjects you can read about on Wikipedia, subjects relating to the UAE have the least coverage. This is due to a number of reasons, but mainly because many people do not know that they can donate their photographs to Wikipedia,” the website says.

“Wiki Loves Emirates is a fun way to change that. This photography campaign is aimed at documenting the UAE through illustrations on Wikipedia.”

The website is calling people across the country to grab a camera and click photographs showcasing the country and upload them to crowdsourced Wikipedia, throughout the month of April.

“We need your help to visually celebrate the richness, diversity and beauty of the UAE. We want to encourage more people and groups to get involved with Wikipedia and help us to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of the UAE.”

Qayyum said the photo campaign is themed around the cultural heritage of the country, both tangible and intangible.

The campaign is seeking photographs of the UAE’s cultural heritage in its broadest sense, such as historical buildings, ancient monuments such as castles and forts, archaeological sites, archaeological artefacts, traditional dishes, outfit, crafts and other related objects. Photographs of traditional street life including souks are also welcome.

Photographs of local social practices such as rituals, festivals, celebrations and images of performing arts such as local dances are also eligible for the campaign.

“But we don’t want people to send us the photos of modern buildings such as skyscrapers, which are mostly copyrighted. Such entries will be disqualified,” Qayyum clarified.

“Many people capture photos of buildings like Burj Al Arab and Burj Khalifa and publish them online without even knowing that it is not legal. Wikipedia doesn’t allow this because it is UAE’s copyright law. So we are allowed to use only one photo each of such buildings.”

Contemporary artworks and sculptures under copyright protection are also not eligible for submission.

Hundreds of entries have already been received through the website. The campaign has received support from various prominent people including the UAE’s Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, on social media.

Once the campaign is over, a panel of photographic experts will evaluate the best entries according to criteria of quality, originality and usefulness of the image to Wikipedia.

The shortlisted photographs will be used to illustrate the relevant articles on Wikipedia, with a potential audience in the hundreds of millions. And a selected number of photographs will be showcased at Wikipedia’s exhibition in Dubai in June.