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Meet Halal Hangouts, an iPhone video that became a foodie vlogging sensation
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Meet Halal Hangouts, an iPhone video that became a foodie vlogging sensation

Meet Halal Hangouts, an iPhone video that became a foodie vlogging sensation
Food
Disclaimer: Images courtesy of Halal Hangouts. Collage created by My Salaam.

 

With over 1.5 million views of their videos and thousands of subscribers from around the globe following them across social media, the Halal Hangout guys have truly arrived on the content creator scene. So what is their secret? What makes them stand out from the crowd? Where is all this headed? My Salaam caught up with Abu, Alttaf and Shaz, founders of Halal Hangouts, to find out.

Tell us who you are and what you guys do.

We are food vloggers Halal Hangouts, and we are made up of three best friends who travel around the world, with a focus on the UK, in search of the best halal food out there, and we tell the stories of our journeys through YouTube and other social media platforms … I think that’s pretty much it, in a nutshell!

It sounds like a cool job, eating and reviewing food. So is this a full-time thing, or do you guys have day jobs?

Sadly, no, it is not a full-time thing yet; we all have to still do our “day jobs”. All three of us are employed full time, and Halal Hangouts is a venture we work on around our jobs at the moment. However, the skills and experience we’ve acquired from our professional careers have certainly put us in a much stronger position as a brand, because all three of us have vast experience in marketing, branding and web development.

Tell us how, why and when you started and what inspired you to use video.

Our inspiration and motto for Halal Hangouts is “on a quest for the best”. We came up with this back in 2014, when all three of us were in a dessert parlour somewhere in East London looking for halal foodie vlog reviews. It suddenly dawned on us that there were no serious vloggers covering the best halal food joints in the UK. As marketeers, we saw the gap and decided we would plug it. So right there and then, in that dessert parlour, we shot our first-ever video on an iPhone, and things have just gone from strength to strength from there.

Who are your competitors, and what makes you different?

As we said, we don’t have any direct competition, certainly not in the YouTube space, where we are the biggest UK-based halal vlogging food channel. Most of our potential competitors are on Instagram, though we don’t like to view them as such, as we are just keen for us all to enhance the halal food industry and help push it into the mainstream.

Your figures are impressive on social media. What platform works best for you, and why?

It’s definitely YouTube, where we have over 12,000 subscribers and more than 1.5 million views to date. We think this is because we don’t just eat the food and tell you if it is good or bad; we tell stories and are storytellers first and foremost. That is what makes us stand out above the others, I think.

Who are your main audience?

Generally, it’s Muslim Millennials, with the majority around 18 to 35 years old, and around 60 per cent of these are UK-based. Our viewers on YouTube tend to be almost two-thirds male, but on other social media, it’s more of a balanced split. We have people from all different ethnicities and backgrounds messaging us, and we believe that’s because our content is universal, as we just try to appeal to foodies and obviously those who want halal food, which we’re realising is actually a lot of people around the world!

As halal foodie experts, tell us about the trends you are seeing in halal food in Britain.

Well, for one thing, gone are the days of poor-quality, cheap halal fast-food outlets being the only option for Muslims in the UK. We have seen a wave of young, hungry and aspirational Muslims with creativity entering the scene. They’re opening gourmet burger joints, classy upmarket steak houses and, of course, lots of Turkish places!

We believe entrepreneurship and a love of food is what drives them, and as this presence gets stronger, we feel that soon some of them will become direct competitors with the best non-halal restaurants in the UK. In fact, that potential is being already anticipated by several non-halal big names, who are beginning to offer halal on their menus.

 

What was the funniest thing to happen to you on the road while doing this job?

We have had so many laughs along the way; that’s what makes Halal Hangouts so special, and there probably isn’t one moment that [stands above the rest].

We’ve had drunkards and overzealous diners video bomb us live on a shoot, and on one occasion a Mancunian sang us a classic Oasis track in the middle of a back street in Manchester. It was so funny it made the video!

Without naming anyone, what is the worst halal food experience you’ve had?

Oh dear… well, always check the hygiene rating! We have been to a few dodgy establishments and picked hair and other bits from hummus, soups and salads! ... not a good look. However, as our motto is “on a quest for the best”, we try not to post really bad reviews. After all, we’re not looking for the worst!

What does the future hold for you guys? Where do you hope to take this?

Our ambitions are to one day do Halal Hangouts full-time and become ambassadors and respected authorities in the halal food space. We also want to diversify, and this might mean stepping into other halal-lifestyle-oriented segments in the future. We have lots of options, so enjoy the ride, guys!

 

Tharik Hussain is a freelance travel writer, journalist and award-winning broadcaster who specialises in Muslim heritage and Muslim travel.

(Writing by Tharik Hussain; Editing by Seban Scaria seban.scaria@refinitiv.com)

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