Mohamed Olaymi: Metel Ma Shelta

Published on: January 30, 2012
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Hello, This is Mohamed Olaymi from the creators of Metel Ma Shelta. First to briefly introduce myself: I’m a Syrian citizen that was born and raised in Riyadh, moved to Lebanon to continue my eduction. This is my 5th year living in Beirut, and I consider it to be my home; This is why I was eager to initiate the Metel Ma Shelta movement to help preserve the beauty of one of the most magnificent countries in the world!
For those of you who still don’t know what Metel Ma Shelta is, it’s an anti-littering awareness campaign designed by three AUB students (Mohamed Olaymi, Lama Shehadeh and Nadine Razzouk) that has gone absolutely viral within days. One day we were strolling along the streets of Hamra and we encountered someone littering. We’re fully aware that people still do that in Lebanon, but still, each time we witness this horrific crime we get charged with anger.
We, as graphic designers, wanted to do something to raise awareness regarding this recurring issue. We tried our best to find a graphic solution that will enable us to attract attention in order to spread our message. Printing flyers or posters is something that has become overused. People are immune to this type of campaigning. We wanted something striking, witty and affective. And so it was.. MONEY! It’s the only language that people understand nowadays.
Personally, as I have mentioned in previous interviews, I’m a huge fan of interactive campaigns. I prefer involving the public rather than having the public as a passive audience. This campaign does that perfectly, it indulges your senses, and enables you to experience our message. As we planned it, our campaign requires some effort to be fully understood:
  • First, you spot the phoney money.
  • Second, you contemplate on whether you want to pick it up or not.
  • Third, if you decided to pick it up, you will have to physically bend and hold it.
  • Fourth, once you realize that it doesn’t feel like real money, you flip it to the other side and digest the message.
While most campaigns lose their audience’s attention after five seconds, we manage to captivate our target for almost 30 seconds. I see that as an achievement on its own!
We stood aside after distribution and observed how people are interacting with our flyers. Once they discover the trick, they either keep the flyer with them, or throw it in the nearest trash and a few decide to put it back on the ground so that someone else will find it. We received some complaints that we are littering by distributing our flyers on the floor. We responded: Our campaign flyers are picked up almost immediately after we have placed it on the ground, we have distributed a 1000 flyers and not a single one is found on the streets, they are all gone!
This campaign has proven its effectiveness within days. Many people are consistently supporting our cause, this suggests that people are in need of this change, they’re demanding a greener Lebanon. Which is why Metel Ma Shelta asks the Lebanese government to draft a law that prohibits littering. Most preferably by fining who ever is seen committing this demeaning act.
I would like to add that littering affects the environment and is hazardous to living organisms. Animals sometimes mistake litter, such as cigarette butts, for food and they end up dying because of that. Since Lebanon is a coastal country, some of the litter on the street gets blown away to the sea. Not to mention that bacteria accumulates where litter is found.I would like to thank you so much for giving us the chance to express ourselves and spread our cause across Lebanon. We hope this campaign breaks the habit of littering, and makes a huge change.
Now, let’s clean Lebanon 10,000 at a time!
is an AUB design student and an LBCblogs contributor. You can find out more about Metel Ma Shelta here .

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