Believe NOT what you see

Both CNN and NBC recently posted a story about how some hotels fake photos and reviews to lure tourists. CNN photos and NBC video are both worth checking out for those planning to take a vacation. The fact is not all beaches are equal. Everyone imagines how his perfect beach would be. Some beaches are good for families others are for partying and getting drunk. But also there are other beaches that are perfect for escaping the city noise and to enjoy the sound of waves and seagulls. Regardless of what is your dream beach, photos of beaches you see in brochures or in some travel websites may not depict the real beach you plan to visit in your next vacation.

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Both photos are for the same beach in the Dominica Republic [via CNN]

Here are some of my own bad experiences with advertisements:

Promotion girls

I once worked as a computer lab technician at one of the private Jordanian universities. The 25 computers in each of the labs were usually used by Computer Science and some Engineering students who are mostly male.  While at one of the labs a man came to me accompanied with a university staff and asked if he can shoot some pictures of the lab while students are working. He explained to me that he is making an advertisement for the university. I told him I don’t mind but he also needs to get the students permission. At that time there were may be less than ten male students working. After the students agreed the man went outside the lab and brought with him a flock of beautiful female students. The girls were seated between the male students and asked to pretend working on the computers. Not only the lab was almost full but the majority of the “supposedly” engineering students were beautiful female students. The pictures of course were to be used in the university brochures and website to promote our private university. Seeing beautiful girls working on computers is supposed to increase enrollment.

Adding more colors

Before going to Malaysia to do my masters I received some brochures from different Malaysian universities. A picture in one of the brochures captivated me and may be affected my decision to study at that university. The picture was for a very beautiful “blue” lake surrounded by a sea of green grass and big trees. The trees branches over the lake in a heavenly-like scene. To my disappointment the lake was not blue like the sky, it was brownish at the edge and greenish in the middle. Although there was a big lake but it is not like those magical lakes we see in the movies. Besides, the photo in the brochure didn’t mention that the lake is also a home for creepy lizards. So, during my three years in that university I almost never enjoyed sitting at the lake. Did I mention it is impossible to do that while fighting 100 plus mosquitos in a very hot and humid weather.

Killing a teenage boy dream

Of course it is not always that photos in brochures do not depict the reality. But sometime such photos are not for everyone to see and indulge. Here is why:

When I was 13 or 14 years old (some time in the 80s) my parents planned to spend the summer vacation in Europe. Eastern Europe to be specific since these countries were much cheaper than western European countries during the Communist era. Of course before the internet the only way to know about tourist places is to go to a travel agency and collect as much brochures as possible. So, my father one day brought with him all kind of brochures. After seeing pictures of topless women on beaches in countries like Poland, Hungary, and Yugoslavia my parents made their mind to go to Istanbul. Of course the decision killed the dream of a 14 year old teenager to see what no one at his age have seen before (things were not as accessible before the internet). Apparently, pictures of topless women on the beach are not necessarily a good way to promote beaches at least not to my parents.


To enjoy a place other factors should be considered as well beside the beautiful scene. Would you enjoy a place if the smell is bad or if it is too cold? Avoid Chicago in the winter, trust me. It is not called the windy city for nothing. There are beautiful beaches in Kuwait but never go there during summer when a temperature may reach 60 °C (140 °F).


11 thoughts on “Believe NOT what you see

  1. Haitham, Ya, it seems everything is about making money 🙂

    Whisper, That is very beautiful indeed. I actually saw something similar in Malaysia. So keep your hope high and Insha’Allah you will get to visit Comoro Islands one day. The world is very beautiful especially those places with lots of water spaces.

  2. Lol@ theta private university

    But you know ,sometimes we may not accept the idea of such ads conssiously , but our brain will accept it unconsciously and will link between beautiful girls and that university , so next time when someone asks us which uni you prefer to study at , you first answer – subconscious – will be the one with girls !

    1. When I came to the US I went to a small university (5,000 student). Most majors in this university are engineering related. One of the main complaint the university always receive from students is that number of female students is very small. The female to male ratio is 1-to4. Many freshmen quit after their first year. So, sadly, I guess it make sense to promote a university with beautiful girls…

  3. This is the deceiving world of advertisement. And if it concerns places you don’t know or haven’t visited yet – then you are likely to believe what you see or hear. Sometimes the picture painted is the pretty version of truth and sometimes (like with the females engineers) it’s just plain lies.

    Right now a lot of advertisements are running in the Danish radio for trips to “Magical Jordan”.
    Judging from the pictures – who wouldn’t want to go? My god it looks so good 🙂 But it only shows the fancy hotels in Aqaba – not exactly how Jordan looks in general…

    1. Wow, those picture are stunning. The colors are very beautiful. I hope Danish tourists will not be disappointed 🙂 Sadly my home town (Irbid) is not promoted in these pictures.

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