Beware: Saudi pranksters are on the prowl, and they're ready to catch you out

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Saudi twins Mohammed and Murad Salem have accumulated more than 500,000 followers on Instagram through their pranks and comedic skits. Social media
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Saudi YouTube and Instagram Pranksters Hassan and Hussein bin Mahfouz have combined to amass over 1.3 million subscribers and followers between them. Social media
Updated 17 April 2018
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Beware: Saudi pranksters are on the prowl, and they're ready to catch you out

  • Pranks were one of the reasons that led us to fame, but we also sing
  • A well-constructed prank is a sort of social experiment on human emotions under the guise of seeking laughter

JEDDAH: Although people have been pranking each other for thousands of years, the age of the internet paved the way for mainstream video-sharing websites such as YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, ushering in a global platform of viewers for pranksters. Famous YouTube and Instagram pranksters are quickly establishing themselves as the new generation of self-made celebrities.
They have built a fan base by creating entertaining user-friendly content, even if at others’ expense.
Pranking is entertaining on multiple levels because it serves to manipulate social power, cultural norms and status hierarchies while initiating strong human emotional responses.
“Not only is a good prank harmless, but like a good story, it reveals an essential truth that would otherwise be hidden,” said American author Mac Barnett. “It is a great way to indicate the underlying absurdities of the world.”
There can be a lot to learn about human responses through this sometimes-cruel engagement. Since pranking is heavily influenced by societal and cultural norms, they function as a release of pent-up societal tensions.
Confusion, embarrassment, flattery, fear and ultimately laughter are sought when individuals are being pranked.
That feeling of losing control or being rendered powerless in a situation can illicit powerful human responses.
A well-constructed prank is a sort of social experiment on human emotions under the guise of seeking laughter.
Saudi Arabia, too, has a culture of pranksters to contribute to this trending industry, in Mohammed and Murad Salem, and Hassan and Hussein bin Mahfouz.
The two sets of twins have garnered nearly 2 million subscribers and followers combined on YouTube and Instagram by uploading entertaining skits and pranks in the Kingdom and abroad.
“Pranks have been our hobby long before social media. Now with social media, the idea has become more of a prank war between us as twins,” the Salems told Arab News.
“In Saudi Arabia, pranks are far from dangerous or intimidating. They rely on public embarrassment. We find they’re usually popular among most society groups, especially youngsters, and although not everyone will like our pranks, most encourage us to keep doing them.”
But it is imperative to not just look at pranking through rose-colored glasses, as it can deeply affect and emotionally scar some victims.
Since pranking can often involve social humiliation, a three-way relationship between the one who humiliates, the victim and the witness can create a helpless power dynamic for emotionally sensitive individuals.
“The reaction we often get from friends and family is positive,” the Salems said. “Although we don’t always agree on how bad the pranks should be, we make sure not to cross any red lines, as certain pranks have led to serious confrontations.”
Saudi prank culture has always existed, but it is only now starting to garner exposure and attention via social-media platforms. An added incentive is the potential income these content creators can accumulate via advertising revenue.
But the Salems aim to use their fame from pranking as a stepping stone to much bigger ventures. “We want to expand and enter the fields of media and acting,” they said.
“Pranks were one of the reasons that led us to fame, but we also sing. We’re currently studying some ideas to create sketches that portray everyday situations in a comedic way.”


‘Selfie Saad’ Hariri launches app to share selfies with followers

Updated 25 April 2018
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‘Selfie Saad’ Hariri launches app to share selfies with followers

DUBAI: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has launched a selfie application that allows users to share their selfies with him online.
In a tweet that’s been liked more than 500 times, Hariri said “download the application to share the selfies that brought us together.”
Hariri has become known for his selfies, posing for several with the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Morocco’s King Mohammed IV, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

A post shared by Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) on


Hariri doesn’t only pose with world leaders, but also citizens and fans from across the country.
Many have replied to his tweet and Instagram post supporting the application and calling for more pictures with him.
“The best selfie with you Mr. Prime Minister, God willing!” one user posted.
Others replied with selfies they took with Hariri.
The launch of the applications comes at a peak time, a little over a week before the Lebanese parliamentary elections are set to kick off for the first time in nine years.

A post shared by Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) on


Hariri is a candidate running with the Saudi-backed Future Movement in the Beirut 2 district, competing with eight other lists including Hezbollah and a civil society group.
The Lebanese prime minister is not the only leader who is known for his social media presence.
US President Donald Trump is notorious for his barrage of tweets that he sends on a daily basis, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has amassed the largest Twitter following for any world leader, at 97 million.