‘Dubai is the new L.A.’: Influencers flock to UAE to max social media followers
Sep 04, 2023
Dubai sees massive influx of social media influencers as they seek to capitalise on lucrative branding opportunities and content creation collaborations Influencers from across the globe are relocating to Dubai to maximise opportunities for collaboration with other social media icons in the city and in nearby countries. “Dubai is the new L.A,” Mohammed Tarek, Egyptian comedian and social media influencer, told Arabian Business. “Everybody who wants to make their dreams come true, they just come here.” Since becoming a viral social media sensation after his Egyptian parody of Adele’s 2015 hit song ‘Hello,’ Tarek has amassed an impressive following across platforms, with 2.5 million on Instagram and almost 5 million on TikTok.
Dubai: A hub for creative influencers
Tarek, a very familiar face among Middle East social media users for his funny videos, revealed to Arabian Business that he moved to Dubai almost two months ago and is very happy with his decision.
“I moved to Dubai because it feels like home and it’s been such a good step for me,” he said.
“Dubai really supports the creativity of any human being. It’s the hub of everything. If you want to be an artist, a musician, or a comedian, this place is for you.”
Networking opportunities and being able to connect with influencers from across the world has added to the allure of moving to Dubai for many. The UAE’s geographical location makes it easier for influencers to travel to Europe, Asia or anywhere in the Middle East in less than eight hours, broadening the scope for sponsorship deals, networking and collaborations.
“Meeting other content creators here has really opened up my eyes and Dubai is the place that can connect you with literally everywhere in the world, and this is great for influencers,” he added.
Comedy and fitness duo Stefania Totolo and Nawaz Sharif have also noticed a surge in influencers across the city. The pair, who have over 3 million YouTube subscribers between them and over 200,000 followers overall on Instagram, film funny videos at various gyms across the city, but mainly in Binous – the most popular among famous bodybuilders and fitness influencers.
“There weren’t many bodybuilders or influencers at our gym before, but now it’s almost full of famous bodybuilders. We definitely noticed more influencers moved here, of course, but I think it’s a good opportunity for us to collaborate with people from different countries because they can help us expand our following – it’s mutually beneficial,” Totolo, the Italian/Russian influencer and fitness expert, told Arabian Business.
The UAE is now home to over 25,000 influencers with between 1,000 and 10 million followers, according to a recent report.
While this may be viewed as a lucrative opportunity for many looking to break into content creating full-time, the city is becoming overcrowded with influencers shooting videos in public.
“We are struggling at the gym sometimes because some of the influencers that come are surrounded by so many people like camera crew, sports masseuses, managers – it’s becoming a little too crowded. I would say that is the only downside.”
She moved to Dubai two years ago, before she began creating content for social media. Totolo has garnered a massive following since then, which she attributes to the huge potential for opportunities in Dubai, from sponsorships to collaborations with others.
Bangladeshi influencer Sharif, who has lived in the UAE for most of his life, shared Tarek’s sentiment.
“Dubai is becoming a hub for influencers and the fitness industry is growing every day. It was not the same as seven or, even five, years ago,” he told Arabian Business.
“Los Angeles used to be the hub for acting, fitness and influencers – and it still is, but slowly, Dubai is beginning to overtake it.”
The comedy duo said that they consider themselves lucky for being able to start their careers as content creators in Dubai, the ultimate influencer hotspot.
“Other influencers are moving here for more opportunities and of course, safety. Plus, it’s easy to travel from Dubai. Travelling hours are not too long, except flights to America probably, but other parts of the world – it’s just perfectly positioned for people to travel from,” Sharif said.
“In Russia, every time I left my house, I felt so tense and cautious, always looking over my shoulder, because I knew that someone could pass behind me or anything could happen. I had to always watch my back,” Totolo said.
“But here, if I leave my phone somewhere, I can come back 10 hours later and it would still be there. It’s a very safe place, and it’s becoming better and better every year.”