In the exciting world of luxury and exotic cars in the Middle East, there are few influencers in the region that can match Suhaib Shashaa from ArabGT for style, passion, and knowledge. He is respected and adored by his Instagram audience of more than 650,000 fans, not to mention the huge YouTube viewership numbering over 3.5 million subscribers. Here, Suhaib shares with The Kurator just what it takes to make it as a media influencer.
Tell us how you first started working in the media industry?
My brother and I were always passionate about cars and at that time we decided to take our passion into the media world by launching Arab Motors TV on Nilesat and ArabSat ,a TV channel dedicated to motorsports. That was back in 2009. We were the youngest Arabs who owned a TV channel at the time.
And how did you transition towards online content?
We used to publish our main episodes on Youtube as re-runs. In 2012, we decided to shutdown the TV channel as we suffered from huge financial losses and decided to shift our business to digital. We anticipated that digital content would grow in the region - we just needed to be consistent, and that was the strategy. We now have over 4,000 videos on Youtube only, and in total we have over 14 million subscribers across all our social media platforms.
You are known for blending exotic cars with fashion and style in your videos.
It comes without saying that cars, fashion and luxury come as a combo. Fashion allows me to express myself regarding what I wear and how I feel depending on the car I am driving. I could be the guy who is driving a RAM TRX truck in sweatpants or the guy in a suit driving a Rolls-Royce.
In the luxury sphere online, do you find the audience is different in the Middle East compared to the rest of the world?
When it comes to luxury, it directly connected to the fact that we live in Dubai and what better synonym is there for a luxury lifestyle than Dubai. What makes the Arab audience unique is the fact that the audience was thirsty for customised automotive content in Arabic. We served them what they wanted with respect to our culture. This was definitely something that helped us spread like wildfire especially since we have always considered quality and credibility throughout the years.
How has the digital landscape changed during all that time?
The whole understanding of the internet has changed in the region and Dubai was one of the hubs during this evolution. I remember we used to struggle to educate our potential clients on digital media, and we tried to get them to understand what we are trying to present to the market. Now, you will find one content creator or influencer in every group of 5-10 friends.
What are the challenges of working as an online influencer and being so closely tied to social media?
If there was one thing I could change about social media it would definitely be a law that fines all those digital bullies. I would make an algorithm that would only allow people to write their real names so that everyone is held accountable when spreading hateful comments for no reason. We might be able to filter them as adults but as social media grows, for teenagers it is a very challenging space and they are affected by those negative comments.
Tell us about your best experience as an influencer?
The best experience that I am most thankful for with my job is the fact that I met my wife, the love of my life - we now have a beautiful family together, and if it wasn’t for my work and business I wouldn’t have met her.
Do you have any tips for budding influencers?
My top tips for social media is to find your own language and style, and then be consistent!
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