Celebrating creativity
April 25 2016 11:12 PM

By Anand Holla

To mark the World Earth Day by participating in the worldwide InstaMeet — real-world meetups of the virtual community of Instagrammers — what better place is there in Qatar than the Purple Island at Al Khor?
Around 65km north of Doha, the pleasantly green Purple Island buzzed with a flock of curious Instagrammers, or Igers, from across Qatar, scouting for the snazziest shots all through Friday afternoon. 
Instagram had announced the InstaMeet — the 13th of its kind — underlining the theme of celebrating Earth as April 22 was World Earth Day. “This was also the reason why Purple Island was chosen as the venue, in order to highlight the wonderful mangroves in the area and the importance of protecting it,” Muhammad Nasir @moawesomesauce, one of the organisers of the event, told Community.
While around 100 Instagrammers of Qatar expressed interest in taking part, around 40 turned up for the event. Driving to the Island and back was a breeze for the Instagrammers as Jaidah Automotive (@chevyqatar) had sponsored six of its top-end Silverado trucks and Tahoe SUVs to take care of the transport. The main hashtags for the event were #WWIM13Doha and #LifeOnEarthWWIM13, and the participants were encouraged to use #InstaMeetDoha #InstaMeetQatar and #WWIM13 as well — you can check out these hashtags on Instagram to take in the many great images captured by the Igers.
Real-world meetups of a virtual community, InstaMeets have been instrumental in bringing together “people who share a love and curiosity for Instagram”. Instagram explains, “Since the earliest days of Instagram, people have been meeting up to take photos and videos together. As the community has grown around the world, so too has the occurrence of InstaMeets: gatherings of people coming together to connect, explore, and celebrate their creativity.”
Qatar’s active Instagramming community is an interesting mix of professionals — the Arab Youth Climate Movement in Qatar (@aycmqa) was represented by their spokesperson Neeshad, for instance — and every InstaMeet has only enhanced their camaraderie and friendship. After the Instagrammers dispersed throughout the island in little groups and took the fanciest of pictures, they returned at sundown to the starting point to enjoy a raffle draw.
“At the draw, we gave away a few gifts from Nandos Qatar 
(@nandosqatar), Bombay Chowpatty, Royal Tandoor 
(@royaltandoor), Tandoor Express, Dakshin (@dakshindoha), The Village (@thevillage_sw), Coffee Time (@coffeetimeqa), and some cool gadgets from Tarsheed 
(@tarsheed),” Nasir said.
“We also proposed two contests; the most creative photo of mangroves and the best caption used with the hashtag #LifeOnEarthWWIM13. Each contest would have three winners and they will receive the following: vouchers from Grand Hyatt Doha (@grandhyattdoha), a gift bag and more vouchers from Nandos Qatar, and a voucher from Nonna Zanon (@nonnazanon).
As the InstaMeet came to a close, the collective smiles on the faces of Igers said it all. And if that didn’t, #jumpstagram, their group photo of a synchronised jump certainly did. Community asked some of the Instagrammers about their experience and here’s what they had to say:
Nashira Abdul Hameed @nashplateful: We were in a snap-happy adventure world, wading through the beach, wandering around the sand island, climbing the rocky hills, and enjoying our brilliant Mother Nature through the lens of the camera. I loved shooting silhouettes at sunset, and jumping with the group to take the perfect #jumpstagram. It was so much fun. It is also gratifying and flattering when fellow Instagrammars recognise you from your Insta handle and give you positive feedback on your work. The best part of the meetup was the joy of connecting with talented photographers, being inspired by their work, forming beautiful friendships, and building a community.
Maria Finlay @this.is.maria: An InstaMeet on Earth Day was the perfect opportunity to meet and collaborate with people who share the same passion of photography, while exploring Qatar’s nature. Purple Island is thriving with wildlife and beautiful landscapes. It was inspiring to see how it brought out the creativity and unique styles of all the Instagrammers.
Affan Ali Syed @affyduck:
This was my second InstaMeet in Qatar. It was great fun to run into familiar faces and meet a lot of new Instagrammers in Qatar. Lucky for us, the weather was splendid and the sky was clear! I loved watching the sunset. It felt so peaceful. The sound of water lapping up the rocks was so calming; it bathed away all the exhaustion of walking out to the waterfront. The only thing missing, which I would like to request for, is providing accessibility for people with disabilities at public places such as Purple Island because no-one should be deprived of such an experience.
Muhammad Nasir @moawesomesauce: Being the third successful World Wide InstaMeet organised in Qatar, I can certainly say that the interest for participation has gained traction since the last event, where only around 25 people had attended. Similarly, I am also seeing more organisations that are more willing to participate and support the InstaMeets, which is good for both participants and the brands involved. Additionally, I hope we can grow into a bigger crowd and have some locals also participate with us.
Anuj Cherian @mrspectastic: ?InstaMeets are a great opportunity to connect with some of the brilliantly creative people you get to know online, in real life. I was thrilled to see more than 50 people showing up for this meet at Purple Island for the Earth Day movement where we became more close to nature. I am a big fan of sunsets in Qatar and what can be better than a evening with the best sunset and company of my fellow Igers.
Hameedul Aqeel @mnhaqeel: ???Gathering with a bunch of people from different places, this was my first such experience and my first InstaMeet. It was easy to connect as we were all bound by one common interest — Instagram. Starting off with two barriers to cross, by the time you reach the sand and the rocks, they give you the feel of Lion King’s Pride Rock… Like Rafiki raising Simba! With mangroves by the shore and a gentle breeze to keep company, Purple Island and its pleasant views are refreshing. The warm sunset lent the perfect tone to call it a day.
Moaaz Sayed Ahmed Hamza @moaazhamza: ?Photography is my favourite hobby and that’s the reason why I went to the event. At Purple Island, I met my Instagram friends, and it was nice to see them in person for the first time. We talked about our experiences and how we can share and spread our work. It was a wonderful day at a new, different place, and I made new friends and followers.
Fola Lawal @shecrownlita: ?Visiting Purple Island was a great experience. Meeting new faces and photographing beautiful natural landscapes was a great way to spend a weekend out from the bustle of Doha.

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