YouTube makes Jeddah its 1st FanFest destination in Mideast

YouTube makes Jeddah its 1st FanFest destination in Mideast
From left to right, YouTubers Fahd Fal, Moha and Njoud receiving YouTube’s gold play button after their YouTube channels reached a million subscribers.
Updated 10 March 2017

YouTube makes Jeddah its 1st FanFest destination in Mideast

YouTube makes Jeddah its 1st FanFest destination in Mideast

JEDDAH: YouTube has chosen Jeddah for its first ever FanFest event in the Middle East on Friday, as Saudi Arabia is home to the biggest number of YouTube consumers per capita in the world.
FanFest, which gathers local YouTube stars to perform live in their home countries, will have famous Saudi talents on stage at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah.
They include Omar Hussain, Badr Saleh, Hatoon Al-Qadhi, and siblings Nojoud and Moha Al-Shammari.
The siblings joined YouTube’s “millionaires club” after they each reached 1 million subscribers on YouTube channels, as did Fahd Sal.
YouTube on Thursday rewarded them with the “gold play button,” which they give YouTubers on such an occasion.
Nojoud has been vlogging (posting video blogs) on YouTube for only a year and a half, yet she has become one of the top 10 influencers on YouTube in the Middle East.
She appears in videos with her two brothers, whose nicknames are Moha and Lofan. They vlog (video blog) about their travels and daily life. She also has her own solo videos that target a female audience.
“What made me get to this stage (and win the gold play button) is my brothers’ support. They were always there to support me every step of the way,” she told Arab News on the sidelines of YouTube’s press conference in Jeddah on Thursday.
Watch time in Saudi Arabia grew by 50 percent last year, comprising a third of all watch time in the Arab world, said Diana Baddar, head of YouTube Partnerships for the Middle East and North Africa.
“We look at the content that’s being created out of Saudi. It’s very different, and not something you’d find on television,” Baddar told Arab News.
She said those who started more than five years ago created “a hotbed of creativity” for all those who have come up in the past five years.
She said Saleh became the first YouTube millionaire three years ago. “People are finding content that’s appealing to them, and we hope this continues,” Baddar said.
“By the end of the year, I foresee probably a doubling of millionaires from Saudi, and we’ll continue to support that.”
She added that YouTubing in Arabic is helping to build up “the repertoire of Arabic content. The fact that we’re exporting from Saudi is a phenomenon that I’m very proud of.”
The attractive local content, and the high usage of mobile phones in Saudi Arabia, are among the important factors making YouTube popular in the Kingdom.
Another factor is having a very young population “who are enthusiastic adapters of new technology and new culture,” said Stephen Nuttall, head of YouTube in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“With the ongoing adoption of modern technology here (in Saudi Arabia), with mobile networks getting ever faster, we’re going to see sustained growth in the future, and it’s really exciting,” he told Arab News.
Nuttall said authenticity and positive creative energy are the common thread among YouTube creators.
“Comedy in Saudi Arabia is very strong. The comedy videos work incredibly well. I think knowledge, the factual content, learning and inspiration (also) work incredibly well.”
Nuttall said the growth in viewership makes advertisers increasingly recognize YouTube as a place to build a brand.
This allows YouTube creators to “create more higher-end quality content as you go, so there will be more compelling content for people to watch.”
YouTube, which was established in 2005, is opening a space in Dubai that is the first in the Middle East, and the 11th in the world, for content creators in the region to learn, connect and create.