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Interview with Kaswara Al-Khatib about the first ever ad campaign for migrant rights in the Middle East

On November 25, 2008

I recently wrote about how impressed I was with the "Rahma" campaign, aired on Arab television and in support of migrant workers within the region who are often mistreated. Seeing as we have been running a website for Migrant Rights in the Middle East, which is also the first regional website of its kind, I felt it was really relevant for me to track down the people behind the campaign and feature them in an interview. My colleague Kawthar and I began searching online for who's responsible for this awe-worthy campaign, and soon afterwards I found myself emailing Kaswara Al-Khatib, the Managing Director of Full Stop Advertising, which is behind this campaign.

Below are the results of the interview!

When was Full Stop Advertising founded, and what is its mission?
Full Stop was founded in 2002. Our mission is to develop advertising with a STOPping power. I.e. Advertising that attracts the attention, engaging and delivers results. And we have a special passion in developing advertising for the soul. Or what I like to call good deed advertising which is part of our SCR (Social Corporate Responsibilities) to our societies.

How many ad campaigns did you create in the past that deal with religion or social issues? What message do you hope to send through such creations?
We did a lot! We had several video clips that aired in Music channels (Lasaf a3ood ya Ommi, Watanak eish tegdar te3teeh, Malak ghair Allah & recently the wedding). We also did several PSAs (Public Service Announcments) e.g. Ghiba, Orphans (Aytam), Negdar nibdi3/Lazim nit7arak with UN and recently Ra7ma. We hope to develop campaigns that improves our society and makes us better people, by hgihlighting issues in our communities that need to be addressed.

Can you tell us a bit about the "Rahma" campaign? What do you hope to achieve through it, and why did you create it in the first place?
Ra7ma campaign is just like other campaigns that we work on. We see there is an issue that needs to be addressed, especially in this case the abuse of the weaker people (maids, drivers, labor...etc.) and they usually can't speak and got no one to turn to. So we thought this is something that need to be brought into attention. We hope that this issue is highlighted and we open people’s eyes on the proper way our Islam teaches us to deal with these people (with Mercy not abuse)!

It seems to be that this is the first time in the history of Arab media that a prominent and visible campaign is launched on behalf of migrant workers and their mistreatment within the region. Do you feel that the feedback was negative or positive?
Feed back was mostly positive. I'm convinced of what we did. But not the less, there are those sceptical people that only see the glass half empty and critisize every thing and every one.

Abroad, many people claim that migrant workers undergo discrimination here because women or ethnic minorities generally are "oppressed" under Islam, but we as Muslims of course don't consider this to be true. In fact, it seems that Islam inspired this campaign, judging by its closing statement: "No mercy upon the merciless." Did Islam indeed inspire this campaign and if so, how?
I believe that there isn’t something called Islamic and no Islamic. Islam is a way of life and it inspires every thing in our lives especially Manners (al25lag) and there are a lot of a7adeeth on 7osn al5olo8, altawado3 and alra7ma [prophetic sayings on good character, humility and compassion]. So yes it inspired us to do it but not just because it is in Islam rather because Islam is about this 😉

What can we as young Muslims do in the Arab world to promote this message of the campaign?
I think if they can take this message and spread it, we are now working on developing questionares (sort of a self test) on how well do we treat these workers and the result should be compared to how Alrasool PBUH [our Prophet] treated his servent. It would be good if they help distribute it. Also they can help in spreading a7adeeth alra7ma and alta3amol ma3 aldo3afaa [Prophetic sayings on compassion and dealing with those who are weak].

Arab News recently published an article outlining the significance of this campaign, stating that the campaign has 3 phases, so is there a lot to expect from this campaign in the near future?
Yes inshaa Allah. An issue like this will not be fixed with just one campaign.

How long will these ads run on Arab television? Are they only aired on MBC or are there other stations as well? Is there a print version?
These ads will run for some time inshaa allah. Now they are on MBC, Rotana will air it soon. Iqraa is also airing it now. Yes there are press ads:

(Click on each image for the larger versions.)
In Full Stop Advertising, as a company, do you plan on continuing to focus on social issues?
Yes inshaa Allah, this is part of our mission statement and reason for being.

We would like to thank Kaswara and the rest of the team at Full Stop Advertising for this wonderful campaign, and also for being so approachable and and willing to be interviewed for the site.

For those of you who want to see all FullStop Ads, please visit their official YouTube channel.