If YouTube has emerged as one of the most powerful modern media platforms with massive impact on public perceptions and attitudes, a great deal of credit goes to social media stars who are using the medium to touch lives of the new generation, with their original insights and unconventional ideas.
The final session of Sharjah Ramadan Majlis at al Majaz Amphitheatre on Sunday, June 3 was dedicated to the new generation of YouTubers and their immense creativity and how it is influencing public opinions and transforming lives. Presided over by Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Council, the Ramadan Majlis was hosted by the Sharjah Press Club of Sharjah Government Media Bureau in partnership with Sharjah Media Corporation.
Moderated by media personality Mohammed Al Mannai, the Entertainment session brought together top YouTubers from across the Arab world who explained the causes of their fast growing popularity and their immense impact across all sections of society.
Speaking on the occasion, Saudi social media star Abdul Majeed Al Mutwee, known for his educational videos, said that he was forced to come up with such videos as there is little or no content dealing with education in the Arab world, especially in the Arabic language.
“I felt there was a dire need for such educational videos in the Arabic language for the benefit of public, especially students. And I have been immensely pleased by the massive response to my videos with thousands of downloads. Many people have benefited from these videos. However, producing educational videos is not easy. It takes a lot of time and effort to put together such content,” he said pointing out that he is planning to produce hundreds of such educational videos for the benefit of everyone.
Rajae Qawas, popular social media star and YouTuber from Jordan known for his bold videos and often incisive humour and criticism targeting the powerful, argued that being bold is the key to his success on YouTube.
“It was necessary to be bold, to get across my message. I started experimenting with YouTube in 2011 when there was not much original content from our part of the world. It is often said that there is no humour in Jordan. I wanted to change that. So I began speaking to the people of my generation, using short videos as well as serials, highlighting various issues and problems with the help of humour,” he explained, hastening to add that his objective is not criticism for the sake of criticism but tackling complex issues in a simple, easy to identify manner.
The Jordanian social media star said he did not seek the pleasure of his audience but the satisfaction of his own conscience. Recalling several instances of his taking on powerful politicians in his country, he pointed out that he has faced no problems from any quarter because of his criticism. “Because everyone knows I wish the best for my country,” he said adding the freedom of media and expression in his country has allowed him to do what he has been doing.
Omar Farooq, the young YouTube sensation from Bahrain with more than 1.6 million subscribers, said he was happy to be in Sharjah as he loved Sharjah and the people of Sharjah, the Capital of Arab and Islamic Culture. Retracing his journey on YouTube, he talked about how he first started experimenting with camera when he was still in Grade 9, trying his hand at both photography and making videos.
Farooq said he debuted on YouTube in 2011 and developed his technical expertise while studying media at his university. “And then I came up with this series called ‘Omar Yjarreb’ (Omar Experiences) trying various roles and avatars of everyday, ordinary people and sharing and reliving their experiences with public,” he said talking about his popular series. From working as a gravedigger to taking on the job of a cleaner or sweeper, the YouTube sensation tried a number of jobs, saying he has a list of 47 jobs or responsibilities that he would like to experience.
Stressing the need for more original content on YouTube, Farooq said there is a minor percentage of influencers in the world and their number is very small in the Arab world. “We need more original and positive content out there,” he emphasised. Praising the fellow YouTuber from Jordan Rajae Qawas for entertaining people, he said entertainment and bringing smiles to people’s faces is a most noble objective.
The Ramadan Majlis was attended by HE Tariq Saeed Allay, Director of Sharjah Government Media Bureau, HE Hasan Yaqoub Al Mansouri, Secretary General of Sharjah Media Council and a number of dignitaries, officials, experts and members of the media.