‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive

‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive
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‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive
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‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive
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‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive
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Updated 12 June 2022

‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive

‘The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties’ — META executive
  • Moon Baz, creator partnerships lead at META Middle East, Africa and Turkey, talks content trends and content creators

Can you tell us about the latest content trends on Instagram in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia?

The Middle East region has one of the highest social media usage rates in the world. People in the region have turned to Instagram to stand behind causes they care about and have successfully ignited waves of digital activism, which gave rise to content that focuses on sharing information and educating communities. It also allowed others to find their own voices in these movements.

We have also seen an increasing interest in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) among our communities as the buzz around concepts like the metaverse and Web3 continues.

Content creators in the region creatively used our Spark AR features to bring forth the spirit of Ramadan and augment the holy month celebrations with filters by @Bdanabol and @aymen_ghnia topping the list.

Reels content has also been on the rise with content spanning everything from celebrating Saudi coffee on the back of declaring the year 2022 as the Year of Saudi Coffee, to anime and K-pop content, and the latest hits on Netflix.




Moon Baz, head of Entertainment Partnerships for MENA and Turkey at Meta. (Supplied)

Can you elaborate on the popularity of anime content on the platform?

The Middle East has had a soft spot for anime since the Eighties. The Japanese art has inspired Arab creators to use anime for self-expression, incorporating Arab culture and sensibilities within its parameters of character and world-building.

With the boom in local anime creation, lovers of the medium are increasingly turning to Instagram as the platform to showcase their talents. To date, the hashtag #anime has garnered almost a million followers across KSA, UAE, Egypt and Kuwait on Instagram.

Regional creators are exploring the full range of the anime universe with manga, cosplay, origami and folktale anime productions coming together on the platform and redefining the boundaries of the medium through its originality.

Talents like Jassim Al Mohannadi use Instagram to publish original anime productions spiced with Middle Eastern flavors. Jasim has published 21 chapters of his own Arabic manga creations on WEBTOON under the title “Justice in the Wasteland” and penned the Middle Eastern manga “Primeval.” Others like Reem (@renberryart) were able to turn their impressive talents in anime illustration into a source of income on Instagram. Everything from anime movie characters to fusions of Mirko and Tengen can be found on Reem’s emerging storefront.

We are delighted to witness the incredible Japanese art shaping Middle Eastern creator communities and further making Instagram home to self-expression.

How has fashion and travel content grown on the platform?

Instagram is a place to explore, share and push culture forward. We see our community heading to places like Explore, Reels, and Stories for inspiration, self-expression and discovery of all types of content. Yet, there is no doubt that the fashion and travel categories have always been, and continue to be, a cornerstone of the Instagram experience.

There is always a new fashion trend to jump on in terms of what to wear and where to shop. Our 2022 Instagram Trends Report has shown that Gen Z is now making bold moves with its style choices, using fashion as a vehicle for joy, optimism and self-expression.

They are also moving away from big-box online retailer websites as more than half of young people are interested in new shopping experiences, opening new avenues for small-to-medium businesses and thrift shops.

In the region, we saw a recent interest in modest fashion where the hashtag #modestfashion grew 45 percent in the UAE, as creators were experimenting in the lead-up to Ramadan.

Travel content has also been on the rise, especially with the boom of Reels. We have seen creative content from a plethora of creators in the region such as Murad and Nataly Osmann and Kasem Hato, who continuously share everything from vacation hotspots for the summer to hidden gems around the world through content that sparks a sense of adventure.

What do brands need to know about current content trends both in terms of creating their own content as well as in terms of collaborating with creators?

90 percent of people on Instagram follow a business globally, making it easier for brands to transform content into commerce by building trust with customers through their owned channels as well as collaborating with key opinion leaders and creators.

We introduced an array of tools that help brands seamlessly connect and collaborate with creators on Instagram including Branded Content Ads, Shopping from Creators, and Branded Content Tags, to name a few.

Last year, we added a new hub to the Professional Dashboard where businesses can find inspiration to spark more content ideas for those unsure where to start. Instagram users with business accounts can browse a collection of quality organic and promoted posts from other businesses in the hope it will inspire them to post their brand-specific content.

There is so much room for exploring and expanding brands’ presence online and to make that search easier, we curated guidelines and tips to help businesses amplify their growth based on their goals.

How is Instagram investing in content creators?

Creators are the heart of culture on Instagram. We’re committed to building a suite of tools to support creators’ various needs and ambitions, regardless of if they’re aspiring, emerging or established creators.

If you have an idea that you want to share with the world, you should be able to create it and get it out there easily and simply — across Facebook and Instagram — and earn money for your work. That is why we are focused on developing a range of creative and monetization tools across our platforms to support creators’ various needs and ambitions, whether they are just getting started or already have an established brand.

In 2021, we expanded the support to fund content for even more creators to produce fun and engaging content that will help them grow their personal brands and make a living. We also launched @creators as a way to reach even more aspiring creators around the world with best practices, product news, and tips & trips.

We have a dedicated creators’ page, which includes everything a creator needs to know on Instagram — ranging from trends, content tips, success stories, staying safe and earning money, to guidelines on using the most recent tools and features.

By the end of 2022, we plan to invest over $1 billion in programs that give creators new ways to earn money for the content they create on Facebook and Instagram. This investment will include new bonus programs that pay eligible creators for hitting certain milestones when they use our creative and monetization tools.

We will also provide seed funding for creators to produce their content. Our goal is to help as many creators as possible find sustainable, long-term success on our apps.

Lastly, how does Instagram moderate and monitor content?

When we find content such as a post, comment or story that goes against our Community Guidelines, we remove it from Instagram. If the content does not go against our Community Guidelines but may be inappropriate, disrespectful or offensive, we may limit it from Explore, rather than removing it from Instagram.

Our Community Guidelines define what is and is not allowed on Instagram, and they apply all over the world. They are designed to encourage expression and create a safe environment on Instagram.

To find, review and take action on content that may go against Community Guidelines, we use technology and human reviewers. Artificial intelligence technology is central to our content review process. AI can detect and remove content that goes against our Community Guidelines before anyone reports it.

Other times, our technology sends content to human review teams to take a closer look and make a decision on it. These thousands of reviewers around the world focus on content that is most harmful to Instagram users.

Anime content creators in the Middle East

User: @artistsoosa https://www.instagram.com/artistsoosa/

About: Jeddah-born Samah Kamil was the first Arab artist to receive a master’s degree in the art of manga from the Arts & Designs faculty at King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. As well as being an artist, she’s also the editor of Manga Arabia, and leads and facilitates workshops covering a variety of manga-related topics.

Her work, which she posts on Instagram, illustrates Saudi culture through contemporary anime drawings, reflecting meaningful plots with relatable characters and social messages.

User: 6th__kage https://www.instagram.com/6th__kage/

About: The Saudi-based content creator is an avid gamer who merges the worlds of gaming and anime. He often cosplays his favorite character Kakashi Hatake from the manga series Naruto.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kakashi-Gaming (@6th__kage)

User: @Paris.ae https://www.instagram.com/paris.ae/

About: Taking cosplaying to the next level, @Paris.ae presents herself as an Emirati Kawaii doll bringing anime characters to life.

 

User: @Renberryart  https://www.instagram.com/renberryart/

About: 21-year-old Reem has combined her passion for all things anime and her artistic skills to create digital art that she posts and sells through her Instagram page.

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by (@renberryart)

 


Snap launches ‘Family Center’ to give parents more control

Snap launches ‘Family Center’ to give parents more control
Updated 41 sec ago

Snap launches ‘Family Center’ to give parents more control

Snap launches ‘Family Center’ to give parents more control
  • In-app feature comes amid growing concerns for teenagers’ online safety
  • Parents will also be able to report any suspicious or concerning accounts to Snapchat

DUBAI: Snap has launched a new feature, known as Family Center, that gives parents more control over their children’s Snapchat habits.
The in-app feature is designed to be used both by parents and children.
Parents will be able to see which Snapchat friends have sent messages, photos or videos within the last week, but will not be able to see the contents of the messages.
They will also be able to report any suspicious or concerning accounts to Snapchat.
Parents will have to install Snapchat on their own device and then link their account to their children’s accounts to access Family Center. They can also invite other family members aged 25 and above to access the feature.

Only those aged 13 to 18 can join Family Center by opting in, with those under 13 officially not allowed to sign up to the platform.
The feature is being launched in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, and will be rolled out to more countries later in the year.


BBC hires first disinformation and social media correspondent

BBC hires first disinformation and social media correspondent
Spring was a specialist disinformation and social media reporter at BBC News. (Twitter)
Updated 09 August 2022

BBC hires first disinformation and social media correspondent

BBC hires first disinformation and social media correspondent

LONDON: The BBC promoted on Tuesday reporter Marianna Spring to the role of disinformation and social media correspondent, the first of its kind at the news platform. 

 

 

Prior to this, Spring was a specialist disinformation and social media reporter at BBC News and BBC World Service since 2020. 

Spring announced her promotion on Twitter, where she confirmed she will be investigating the real-world consequences of online disinformation and trolling on social media, with new podcasts and more in the pipeline.


UN formally ‘raises concerns’ over Iran’s ‘abuse’ of female journalists

UN formally ‘raises concerns’ over Iran’s ‘abuse’ of female journalists
Updated 09 August 2022

UN formally ‘raises concerns’ over Iran’s ‘abuse’ of female journalists

UN formally ‘raises concerns’ over Iran’s ‘abuse’ of female journalists
  • BBC filed multiple complaints to world body since 2017
  • Tehran alleges UK channel’s Persian service supports regime change

LONDON: The UN’s formal communication with Iran’s government over its alleged abuse of BBC Persian’s female staff and their families, has now been published, alongside a terse denial from Tehran.

This comes in the wake of the BBC filing an urgent appeal to the UN in February about Iran’s alleged ongoing harassment of the journalists working for the UK channel’s Farsi service.

The BBC claims that the harassment includes online violence, threats of rape and murder, attacks on their credibility, hacking and phishing of their emails and telephones, and false and defamatory stories about their personal lives.

The UN communication, originally sent to Iranian authorities in late May, was officially published on Tuesday alongside a response from Iran, according to reports.

The BBC has filed multiple complaints with the UN since 2017, the latest of which was in February 2022. The channel claims that its staff and their families have faced relentless harassment and intimidation since BBC Persian TV was launched in 2009.

In the communication, UN experts expressed “grave concern over the continuation of reported harassment and intimidation of the BBC News Persian staff and their family members, which appears to be aimed at preventing them from continuing their journalistic activities with the language service.

The UN experts also raised concerns about the reported surveillance of journalists and the harassment of their sources in Iran, the interrogation of their family members, and the pressure placed on them “to leave their jobs.”

Additionally, the UN experts warned Iran that they intend to raise public concern regarding the alleged treatment, stating that “the wider public should be alerted” about the matter.

In its written response, Iran’s government claimed the journalists were supporting “the overthrow of the Islamic Republic,” with “hostile” coverage that “tarnishes” the regime, and which “incited riots.”

Director of BBC World Service Liliane Landor slammed Iran’s response: “We are grateful to the United Nations for raising our grave concerns about the treatment of our BBC News Persian journalists. We reject Iran’s attempt to justify its behaviour — the sanctions and harassment against our colleagues and their families must stop.”

International counsel for the BBC World Service, Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson, said: “Iran’s aggressive, defensive response to the UN experts provides a revealing insight into how it considers independent journalism: a threat to its power, which must be silenced.”

They urged the international community to hold Iran accountable for these actions.


Algerian influencers jailed over student scam: media

Algerian influencers jailed over student scam: media
Updated 09 August 2022

Algerian influencers jailed over student scam: media

Algerian influencers jailed over student scam: media
  • The charges were criminal association, forgery, theft, fraud and money laundering
  • All three are well-known in the North African country

ALGIERS: Two Algerian social media influencers were sentenced on appeal Tuesday to a year each in prison, with six months suspended, over a scam targeting students seeking education abroad, local media reported.
Among the charges faced by Farouk Boudjemline, known as Rifka, and Mohamed Aberkane, alias Stanley, were criminal association, forgery, theft, fraud and money laundering.
Their co-accused Numidia Lezoul faced the same charges but was acquitted.
All three are well-known in the North African country, and were originally sentenced to one year each and fined the equivalent of 650 euros for promoting the “Future Gate” agency.
This had defrauded many Algerians wishing to study abroad, particularly in Russia, Ukraine and Turkey.
It charged students large sums to arrange their university registration and provide accommodation, but left them to their fate once there.
Oussama Rezagui, the head of the agency, was given a six-year jail sentence, reduced on appeal from seven years, and a heavy fine.


UAE marketing official wins World Media Award for content creativity

UAE marketing official wins World Media Award for content creativity
Al-Shehhi oversees and develops strategic plans and policies to increase the UAE’s digital influence and outreach. (WMG)
Updated 09 August 2022

UAE marketing official wins World Media Award for content creativity

UAE marketing official wins World Media Award for content creativity
  • Khaled Al-Shehhi reaches billions of people with campaigns
  • Meals for over 1.2m raised in Burj Khalifa COVID-19 project

LONDON: The World Media Group announced on Tuesday that Khaled Al-Shehhi, executive director of marketing and communications for the UAE government, is the winner of its 2022 award for content leadership and innovation.

Al-Shehhi was awarded the honor by his peers for creating “exemplary content-driven campaigns that demonstrate brand bravery, creativity, and innovation,” WMG, a strategic alliance of the world’s leading media brands, said in a press statement.

As head of the government’s media office, Al-Shehhi has been at the center of many award-winning creative campaigns, including the transformation of the Burj Khalifa into the world’s largest donation box, which reached 4.6 billion people and raised over 1.2 million meals for those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Campaign effectiveness is just one part of this story,” the WMG stated. “Al-Shehhi has transformed the way a government entity approaches communications by making creative excellence the essence of its function. It’s clear the UAE media office behaves like a brand, not an institution.”

In response to the win, Al-Shehhi thanked the World Media Group, saying it “showcases the very best in content marketing, so I’m delighted to receive the award for Content Leadership & Innovation.”

“My goal has been to transform the way the UAE Government communicates by producing original innovative and creative content that positively impacts the lives of people locally, regionally and globally.” He said it was an honor for him and his team to be recognized by their peers.

WMG’s statement also cited Al-Shehhi’s ground-breaking initiatives to support the Middle East’s first mission to Mars including Double Moon, a regional-first projection stunt; and a limited-edition passport stamp for UAE visitors made of “Martian Ink.”

Al-Shehhi oversees and develops strategic plans and policies to increase the UAE’s digital influence and outreach.

His expertise has strengthened the UAE’s reputation as a hub for developmental, humanitarian, cultural and knowledge projects.

Al-Shehhi will receive his award at the Ham Yard Hotel in London on Thursday Sept. 8, where the final category winners will also be announced during a live ceremony.

The winner of this year’s Grand Prix Award will also be announced on the same night, joining previous winners London & Partners, Malaria No More UK, Shell, Sonos and Tata Motors as the ‘best of the best.’