Thursday, September 25, 2008

Something we can all agree on in the Middle East

It's time for another installment of The Best Color Scheme Among Flagcarriers Tournament."

Today we will delve into a region of the world that Jon Stewart described this way (paraphrasing): "The Middle East is where civilization began, and also where it is likely to end."

I hope that the governments of this troubled region of the world will build on the goodwill fostered by this friendly competition and transform it into the political capital necessary to broker a historic peace in our Cradle of Civilization.

In the interest of transparency, I would like to state upfront that I am indeed half-Jewish, but I have deep admiration and love for my Muslim brothers and sisters. My personal faith will in no way interfere with my objective color-scheme judgement.

In the spirit of unity, I will not break up this bracket into regionals, but rather set all the participants into a single 16-player bracket, which will eventually, after four rounds, will yield a champion. (Check this out to get an idea of how the matchups will play out.) The seeds will be determined by population, with the most populous country receiving a number 1 seed and so on down the line. With that...on to the First Round!

(1) Egypt Air (1) v. (16) Gulf Air: I was frankly hoping for an easier decision here because no #16 seed has ever upset a #1, although this crew came the closest, and I do not know if I was bold enough to make such a decision. However, Gulf Air (hailing from Bahrain) was too good to pass up. The gold looks sharp, and the blue highlights are like a fallaway jumper at the buzzer. It's upset city as this diaper-dandy takes down numero uno. WINNER: Gulf Air.
(2) Iran Air v. (15) Qatar Airways : If anything during this tournament, I have tried to be consistent. That is why I cannot in good conscience allow Qatar Airways to advance. In the Oceania Bracket, I punished Qantas for disobeying the natural laws of grammar. Unfortunately, Qatar meets the same fate. By the way, Iran Air's color scheme is uninspiring and dull, but in this case they met a team who fell due to to a technical foul (get it?). WINNER: Iran Airways.

(3) Sudan Airways v. (14) Oman Air: First of all, I was surprised to find out that Sudan had an airline, so they get some brownie points for that. However, Oman Air gets my soft spot for gold and blue and rides it to the second upset so far. Gotta love that color combination. WINNER: Oman Air.
(4) Iraqi Airways v. (13) Kuwait Airways: It's a rematch of the Gulf War, and this time, Iraq pulls out a victory. They were favored the last time these two met, but after Kuwait recruited some heavyweights from overseas to fortify their lineup, Iraq was overmatched. I was impressed most of all with the soothing greens of Iraqi Airways, and similarly by the fact that they still had planes. You have to give a lot of credit to any commercial pilot courageous enough to make the difficult landings at Baghdad International. WINNER: Iraqi Airways.

(5) Saudi Arabian Airlines v. (12) Palestinian Airlines: I am a big fan of the Saudi tail design, even though it seems a bit violent with the crossing swords. Nonetheless, they are a national symbol of sorts and that earns you points in this contest. I am not too crazy about the peachy color on the fuselage. It's a color that is more appropriate for a living room (I would know) than a flag carrier. Palestinian Airlines is too bland, frankly. There's nothing to point to as a unique or interesting design. Although the tourney almost always yields a 12-5 upset, it won't be happening here. WINNER: Saudi Airlines.

(6) Yemenia v. (11) Middle East Airlines: There is a difference between a white-based color scheme that is boring (see above) and one that is interesting (see below). Yemenia makes it work because the tail design offers a compelling image. What troubled me most about Lebanon's flag carrier was that the country's name was in no way referenced. The name itself is unappealing because it offers no glimpse into any sort of national identity. WINNER: Yemenia.
(7) Syrian Arab Airlines v. (10) Emirates: Although initially I was partial to the Syrian flag-carrier because it reminded me of my beloved Aerolineas Argentinas, I eventually realized that the bird on the tail was strange looking, and rather undignified. It was too Woody Woodpeckerish. Emirates has another classy, white-based color scheme with national colors prominently featured. WINNER: Emirates.
(8) El-Al v. (9) Royal Jordanian Airlines: This is a rematch of some war or wars, so there is obviously some tension here. We have the equivalent of Auburn v. 'Bama, or Duke v. UNC. This one is heated and someone is going home very upset. I was hoping that Royal Jordanian was going to make a strong showing to avoid uncomfortable matches in subsequent rounds, but it's color scheme is too dark. When I was analyzing the color scheme I felt the same overheating one might feel on a hot summer day wearing a black T-shirt outside. "That's not going to be good for business, that's not going be good for anyone." WINNER: El-Al.

Now for the Elite 8...

(2) Iran Air v. (10) Emirates: As I alluded to earlier, Iran Air was not going far in this tournament. The reason they got such a high seed was due to their population, but clearly they were not strong heading into the tournament. This is comparable to what sometimes happens in hockey, where a division winner receives a #3 seed, but is clearly inferior to a team that came in second in a much more competitive division and gets a #4 seed. They may slip by in the first round, but eventually it catches up. Iran Air, meet eventually. WINNER: Emirates.

(4) Iraqi Airways v. (5) Saudi: Saudi will slip by again this round on the strength of the tail design. Neither fuselage color-scheme was overpowering, which leads me to base the decision on what these two flag-carriers did with their tails. Iraqi uses the oft-used bird-in-flight design. It's neat, but not unique. Oh yeah, and it breaks that pesky U after a Q rule. Saudi keeps it traditional and moves on. WINNER: Saudi.
(6) Yemenia v. (14) Oman Air: Although I remain a big fan of the gold and blue combination on Oman, I have come to realize that the design is a bit too erratic. There seems to be very little rhyme or reason to it. Yemenia is neat and professional. This is a white-based scheme gone right. WINNER: Yemenia.

(8) El-Al v. (16) Gulf Air: This may one of the few (only?) matchups which does not constitute a rematch of a previous war for Israel. The matchup does feature a decisive battle between a colorful and creative color scheme versus a traditional white-based scheme. I am a fan of both of these. However, it comes down to the continued and impressive creativity of Gulf Air. Look at that tail design. At the end of the day, there are and will continue to be very nice white-based schemes like El-Al's. However, I have yet to encounter in my research a combination with the aesthetic appeal of Gulf Air. The shockers continue. WINNER: Gulf Air.

And now, the seminfinals...aka The Final Four!

(5) Saudi v. (16) Gulf Air: As time has passed, I have come to appreciate the peachy color on Saudi's fuselage, just like I have come to like it in my own living room. When it comes down to it, both have fuselage colors and tail designs that are appealing. The difference is that Gulf Air could be from anywhere, whereas you know where Saudi is from. This was not easy, but Gulf Air's cinderella run has come to an end. WINNER: Saudi.

(6) Yemenia v. (10) Emirates: With this matchup, we are guaranteed of at least one white-based color scheme in the final, which is appropriate given their relative abundance and strength in this region. My decision is based on the lettering here. Emirates is clear, decisive, and it stands out. Yemenia is simply too shy. That may seem trivial, but it counts in this tournament. WINNER: Emirates.

And now...THE FINAL...Who will advance to the "real" big dance?

(5) Saudi v. (10) Emirates: This region, with a history of violence and unrest, has not disappointed here, offereing creative and traditional designs, intriguing upsets, and historcial rematches. And in the end, we have representatives from both sectors: the creative and adventureous v. the traditional and professinal. The tail designs on both match the motifs, and are equally representative of national colors and symbols. The lettering on both is equally assertive. The difference, it appears to me, is that Saudi has it both ways. With it's peach and white base, it avoids the disadvantages of a white-only color scheme and captures the advantages of the traditional look. With Saudi, everyone's a winner, and that's the most we could ask for in this part of the world. WINNER: Saudi

See you at the dance, if that sort of thing is allowed in Saudi Arabia...


Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis - no technical graphic design terminology mumbo-jumbo but nevertheless both convincing and entertaining.

J. Eric Smith said...

I was really feeling Gulf Air on that one . . . I'da had them as the Middle East representative. What is that little distracting green box on the hull of the Saudi plane in front of their name????

Sparticus said... was tough knocking out gulf air. to be honest, i almost thought it was pointless to keep the tourney going after the first match b/c i couldn't picture anyone taking them out. the green block on saudi is the's a closer look, on a rather unfortunate picture.