DUBAI: From being a refugee to winning Favorite Arab Star at the 2023 Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, Syrian comedian Amro Maskoun has an inspiring story to share.
The social media star, who has more than 4.8 million followers on Instagram, was announced as the winner of the award, which honors talents from the Middle East and North Africa, late last week.
“This nomination was literally the highlight of 2023,” Maskoun said in an interview with Arab News after his win. “I’ve been watching Nickelodeon since I was a little kid. I used to watch the ceremony. I used to watch everyone getting washed with slime. And I never imagined myself being actually nominated to win such an award.”
But, when his dream did come true, the comedian said he was not able to fully enjoy the moment because of the earthquake that hit his home country and Turkiye in February.
“To be honest, I don’t know if I can express my feelings in a good way right now, especially after what happened in Turkey and Syria and after a lot of people lost their lives,” he said.
“I think that winning this is, in one way or another, our compensation for what we felt and how powerless and useless we felt after the earthquake,” he said. “So, I really just wanted to dedicate this to the children of Syrian, to the children of Turkey.”
Despite this, Maskoun, who is based in Dubai, said he feels honored to have received the international prize. “I think it’s going to be the best thing that’s going to happen to me in 2023,” he said.
Maskoun, who studied architecture in France, left Syria as a refugee in 2012, when he was just 13 years old. He first lived in Turkiye with his family before moving to Lebanon, then Dubai, then France, and he is now back in the UAE. He describes his teenage years as “hectic.”
“We moved more than 24 times in those years. I just ended up feeling very lost, feeling like I had no place to belong to, even though I’m originally Syrian. But, after moving a lot between countries I just lost this feeling and sensation of belonging,” he said.
However, this experience taught him a lot, he said. “God sometimes puts you through tests just to let you see the power that you have inside you,” he said. “I got to be independent, and I think the creative crazy part comes from this journey we had as a family.”
Unlike what his fans on social media might think, Maskoun was an introvert as a child. “I hated talking to people. I just wanted to go to school, come back, study and sleep.
“When I started doing these videos, it was after a very severe period of depression between 2014 and 2016,” he continued. “Social media helped me a lot to change that side that I hated about myself.”
His Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Award is not his only international recognition. In 2021, Maskoun was voted the Middle Eastern Social Media Star of 2021 at the People’s Choice Awards.