Khambalah – a glimpse into Saudi’s youth through YouTube

My wife has found a new hobby, and I must admit I’m happy about what she’s now up to. It doesn’t involve Louboutins, branded Abayas, or any other habit associated with the size of financial deductions that would even make Premier League footballers nauseous. She’s finally discovered Khambalah, a show produced by Telfaz 11, the makers of La Yekthar. The producers of Khambalah, a word which doesn’t have much of a meaning (my wife translates it as bumming around), use comedy to discuss local issues – some of which are sensitive. Despite the seriousness of the subjects, the shows always hit the mark, even to watchers who may not know Saudi too well.

The trailer debuted about two years ago and the team have produced about 20 shows to date, covering issues such as employment, stereotypes, cultural misunderstandings and the rise of Twitter. The shows have been viewed over 50 million times to date, and the team at Telfaz 11 have again proved their ability to come up with another hit after the success of La Yekhtar.

If you’re a non-Arabic speaker you may find them hard to follow (I’d love it if Telfaz 11 could produce subtitled videos). But the video below, about how Saudis view and think of each other and their reputations is hilarious! Enjoy, and get watching on YouTube!

The Gulf, social media and its self-deprecating humour

The Gulf is known for many things but a sense of humour hasn’t traditionally been on the list, even less so self-deprecating humour. With the advent of social media, in particular YouTube, both the Gulf’s residents and nationals have started to develop content like there’s no tomorrow. The best is currently coming from Saudi Arabia. One example is La Yekthar, one of the most popular comedy shows on the net. The team regularly tackles and takes on stereotypes of Saudis, and one of their latest clips was a fantastic set-up of how Saudis are often perceived by foreigners. The video, which is below, also sends a not-so-subtle message to Saudis that this type of image, of arrogance and violence, isn’t the right thing to do.

Bahrain has also followed suit with a number of send-ups of the typical Bahraini stereotypes. The clips, which are common on the video-sharing site Keek, focus on a variety of stereotypes which are mainly based on geography (for example, Al-Riffa and Muharraq). I’m going to have to search for these but I’m going to upload as soon as I can.

Even Qatar is getting in on the act. The only local Qatari comedian I know, Hamad Al-Amari, routinely does stand-up routines poking fun at Qatari stereotypes before switching effortlessly into an Irish accent (he spent part of his childhood in Ireland). Have a look at one of his sets below.

And then there’s the UAE. While there are a number of local comedians here including the likes of Ali Al Sayed the country has arrested those, even nationals, who have poked fun at the country’s stereotypes. Emirati Salim Dahman and a group of young males who made a spoof YouTube video named the ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ were arrested after uploading the clip. No reason seems to have been given for their arrest, but the assumption would be that they’ve been detained for insulting national sensitivities.

To quote from 7Days, which featured the story yesterday, ‘The Deadly Satwa Gs’ video is a spoof of young people who try to act tough. At the martial arts school, the recruits learn how to throw a shoe and call for back-up on their mobile phones. When they graduate from the school, they are all given Barcelona football jerseys, supposedly matching a style worn by young men in Dubai.

The video, which is still available online, is hardly groundbreaking satire and is fairly tame when compared to the content coming out of the Magic Kingdom. However, comedy isn’t always a laughing matter depending on where you are in the Gulf.

PS If you want to know why I haven’t mentioned Kuwait ask any Gulf Arab about Kuwaitis and humour.

Do you know which videos are the most watched on #Youtube?

Youtube has changed how we view and understand video on the internet. But despite the site’s importance (Youtube streams four billion videos a day), many agencies or corporate firms don’t use Youtube or monitor its content.

If you’re looking for an easier way of measuring trends such as top rated, most favourited, most shared and trending videos then check out http://yt-feeds.appspot.com/. This site, which allows you to access Youtube’s API feeds, will tell you what you need to know about 18 different categories of videos from 34 different countries or regions (the Middle East region includes details for Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates).

Youtube’s API feeds site is incredibly easy to use and will help you better understand which videos are proving popular online

And as an extra treat, check out this video from the team behind Youtube’s most popular Saudi comedy channel/program, La Yekthar. This is a short clip for the comedy team, and while the dialogue is in Arabic I’m sure you’ll understand the underlying comedy.

If you’re interested in knowing about La Yekthar then have a read of this profile of one of the comedians behind the show. The shows that the La Yekthar team post onto Youtube are usually viewed a million times plus. I hope you enjoy the clip below.