By Nivriti Butalia
We have a chat with someone who lives in Dubai and does something that can even loosely be termed interesting…What do you struggle with?
Managing a company and being a YouTuber is a mix that I don’t wish on anyone.
How often do you check WhatsApp?
Every 5min (2min if I’m in a relationship).
Are you a coffee or a tea person?
Coffee, but tea when I want to act sophisticated in Downtown.
Tell us about yourself in one paragraph.
I’m a YouTuber and director, born in Iraq, lived seven years in Tunisia, 12 years in Belgium and five years in the UAE… My days are hectic and I switch from different industries several times a day. I’m using this energy to prepare a place for the next generation(s) of speakers and creators at my company.
Have you been to the Burj Khalifa?
I have been, twice, and it’s always stunning. It’s even higher than it should be because at some point you can’t see the city anymore.
Best spot to chill in the UAE?
I would say home, because anywhere you go in the city except for the desert, it’s noisy and things are happening. Which is amazing, because you feel you’re in the middle of something big. You’re a part of history in the making. But you definitely need some time to chill in front of your tablet or just hear some old stories from your parents.
UAE’s best shawarma?
For me, the best shawarma is in Abu Hail at Al Masgoof Al Iraqi restaurant. It’s juicy, it’s big — and there is parking.
The most underrated Dubai restaurant?
Smiling BKK. Every time I go there, there are more waiters than customers and it drives me insane because they have the best Thai food in Dubai. The vibe is so different from the trend and it makes it feel like a small escape.
How do you deal with emails?
I reply to them on the spot, otherwise I lose track.
So, you’re a prompt replier?
Yes, tempo is key in business.
How much time do you spend on Instagram every day?
I’m scared to count.
Chopsticks or a fork?
Depends, noodles or spaghetti.
What do you not like about going to a gym?
I feel like an outsider when I step into a gym, I don’t even know what to wear to go there. It takes me ages to find the right song for the right exercise. Then someone bulky looks at me, I freak out and run away. To make me feel better, I get a burger. Burgers don’t look at you.
The best compliment you’ve received for your videos?
“It made me go to university again.”
“You prevented me from committing suicide.”
What gives you strength? My passion to create.
What makes you feel better about yourself when you’re low?
I grab a book and a coffee and go somewhere quiet but not too quiet. From time to time, I escape deep into my thoughts. But then I have to read 32 pages again. I love spaces where no one can disrupt my soul-searching. I don’t want to kill the poetic vibe but the toilet is my favourite place to be alone. No one can force you to leave.
How long did it take to acquire the number of followers you have?
It is hard to track but I started posting funny videos three years ago. Every time I posted a video I got 10k new followers and on a daily basis, 1k new followers. But I never paid attention to the growth of my channels. I am focused on content. Maybe that was the secret.
Are you able to eat a meal without first photographing it?
I never take photos of meals. There are professionals for that.
When was the last time you felt like you made a mistake or that you failed?
When I left my big fanbase on Snapchat to become a daily YouTuber, everyone thought it was a mistake. It was somehow a huge mistake until life proved to me that I had to make that mistake to gain a bigger audience elsewhere. I regret not making more mistakes because today I am managing and producing young talent. And I need to prevent them from doing what I did wrong.
And how did you overcome it?
When I stopped my TV show after four episodes, I was strong enough to tell the audience that it was not good enough and it was not for me.
If you have a free day, what do you do with that time?
Free days scare me. I get bored and become anxious. Routine kills my poetic vision of life.
What is the ‘poetic vision’ of your life?
That’s hard. My poetic vision of life is constantly evolving. Every single useless element of my days brings a new energy in my understanding of life. It stays somewhere in my system until one day my subconscious mind brings it to me as a gift. We are in a world full of information, connections, possibilities. The choices we have to do things everyday are enormous. And your only scale is your past experience, so I try to understand myself as much as I can, otherwise I won’t know the distance to my next dream. Even Google Maps would not know.
Which was the last sport or racquet game you played?
I have never been interested in sport. Since a young age, I was always the youngest in my school classes and the others used to be stronger than me so I always lost all the challenges. But oh well, today I can run a show (got it?).
Three apps that make your daily life easier?
Google Maps takes me where I want to go, Google Calendar tells me when to go, and DropBox helps me while exchanging files between my laptops.
A favourite book or author or a quote that inspires you?
The Power of the Habit by an author called Charles Duhigg changed my life. Easy to read and accurate with real stories that will change your perception of the routine.
Your take on hashtags? Painful or necessary?
I doubt that Adele needed hashtags to get famous. All the tools that we have are slowing us down because your real focus should be your message, and not the way you want to get people attracted to it. And if your talent is too big, get an agent to manage it.
What does Sahi Media do?
Sahi Media is that crazy creative space developed by my brother and I to produce content for brands but also for young talent who want to share good stories. We draw, we film, we compose, we edit and we eat pizzas.