From full-time job to full-time family man: Saudi vlogger Mohamed Moshaya's journey
- 15 February 2017
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Life on the Arabian peninsula revolves around the family, but for Mohamed Moshaya, life would be very different if it didn’t. The Saudi internet superstar has made a name for himself with videos of everyday life—and pranks—in the Middle East.
“People are naturally attracted to families,” he told My Salaam when we asked why so many of his videos feature his children. “Through our videos, followers get a glimpse of how a family is living in Saudi Arabia and what they do on their travels.”
The part-British, part-Saudi YouTuber regularly clocks between 1.5 to 2 million views per video, often within days of uploading them. One of his most recent, “I jumped in the water of happiness”, uploaded at the end of January, logged 2.1 million views in less than a week. Another, “Teeth as well?”, features his children checking out a hotel in King Abdullah Economic City outside Jeddah and garnered more than a million views over a weekend this February.
“Over the last 28 days, the channel received over 83 millions views!” he said, referring to the four weeks to February 5. His reputation extends to other networks; on Instagram, for instance, some 304,000 followers track the antics of his family, and an average post attracts more than 12,000 likes.
HARDER THAN IT LOOKS
That sort of success doesn’t come quickly, however. Moshaya first started posting video blogs, or vlogs, as a student. As someone who always had a passion for filmmaking, he took to making videos easily. “Vlogging was a good way to express myself and how I was living life in the UK when I started,” he said.
When he moved to Jeddah, where he now lives, he continued to film his life, and found that audiences across the region were keenly interested in Saudi lifestyles. So interested, in fact, that he was able to give up his job as a technology consultant to the financial industry as well as his work teaching Arabic and English to focus entirely on entertaining the interwebs.
“I always wanted to work for myself but never thought YouTube would give me that opportunity,” he said, echoing millions of young people around the world. “When it became almost impossible to work full time as well as on YouTube, I had to make the scary decision to quit my job.”
He hasn’t looked back since and has worked with over a dozen brands eager to reach his viewers. Among them are KitKat, Lurpak and Kia, he said. “One of our campaigns for a gaming app was the most successful in terms of YouTube views.”
Part of his success comes from avoiding stereotypes associated with his country. “[Viewers] do expect more religious content and [for vloggers] to respect local cultures and traditions,” he said. “I try to respect the culture and not cross any boundaries. But with regard to the religious aspects, I concentrate on entertainment mostly; if people want religious content, they are free to visit the many religious channels on YouTube.”
It’s not that he isn’t religious; it’s just that the Islamic way of life is not something he feels is necessary to focus on. “I’m a practising Muslim and respect all faiths,” he averred. “[But] the focus of the videos is entertainment and not religion.” Instead, he’d rather create more travel vlogs; doing so gives his family the opportunity to enjoy travelling together and share the experience with his viewers.
It’s an approach that he hopes will help his channel grow into the largest in the Middle East, although he feels that more needs to be done to promote youth expression.
His advice for aspiring YouTubers, then, is to stay true to their own unique voices in order to attract an organic audience. “Concentrate on creating fun content as opposed to growing your channel,” he says, “as that will help your channel naturally grow.”
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