Dubai: He has been sketched, cast, moulded and merchandised into just about anything. Drive around Dubai and you won't miss a sign with his ecstatic, yellow face grinning at you.

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Yes, as Dubai Summer Surprises (DSS) comes to the end of its first week, it seems that the event's mascot, Modhesh, remains a permanent fixture.

But this summer it is the yellow chap's creator who feels most surprised by the stamina and success of a design he completed in 2001.

"It didn't hit my mind that it was going to be as popular as this," said Romulo Miclat, a freelance designer based in Dubai. "I just thought it would be another design."

A trained Filipino architect, Miclat has been working in Dubai since 1982.

Eight years ago, Miclat was working for communications agency Bates Pan Gulf. DSS was a client of the company. He remembers that there was little time for artistic musings.

"In the advertising industry, everything has to be done yesterday. In duration it took me two to three days."

DSS organisers gave the artist some direction, stipulating the jack-in-the-box theme, and from there he developed the full character.

"The first time they started with not a mascot but a symbol of a jack-in-the-box," said Miclat. "So they briefed me according to what they thought it would be - maintaining the spring. I gave a sketch and then faxed it to them and they made some corrections and then I did 10 posters which featured the 10 surprises and those posters were all over Dubai."

The designer added that he was asked to come up with something that appealed to children.

"Modhesh actually means surprise [or surprising] in Arabic," he explained. "And the crown represents the seven emirates."

Although Modhesh has been successfully branded by the shopping event's organisers into a widely recognised icon, a lively debate each year exposes the character's ability to delight as well as infuriate residents.

Children don't seem to tire of him, but some adults dread seeing his smiley face across town, something Miclat is aware of. But he is sporting about the difference of opinion when broached on the subject.

"Especially some designers also, they say 'I hate this guy'," he laughed. "And they are right because the way [Modhesh has been produced] with the dolls and the toys."

His original character has been a victim of its own branding success, he explained, as merchandising has changed and not remained true to the mascot's original design.