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Dubai plays host to Snapchat’s first Middle East party

The event brought together Snapchat stars from the Gulf and performances by singers who frequently use the social media application

Ismaeel Naar

Published: Updated:

Among Arab celebrities and social media influencers, Snapchat held its first ‘party’ gathering in the Middle East in Dubai on Friday.

Organized by Platinum Records and hosted by Kuwait’s Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, a social media guru himself, the event saw speeches by multiple Snapchat stars from the Gulf Arab world and performances by singers who frequently use the social media application.

“Nearly 35 years ago, the Gulf Cooperation Council was established and today, this event bringing together the youth of our region will hopefully mean the establishment of the Gulf youth movement,” said Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs and chairwoman of Abu Dhabi a media free zone twofour54.

“Through this event, we can unify our message and hopefully spread it across the region to affect change,” she added.

Social media for good

The event also highlighted several success stories from the Gulf Arab world who have made careers out of using Snapchat.

Saudi traveler Abdullah Al Jumah amasses hundreds of thousands of followers across Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

Al Jumah is a Saudi traveler, author, Harvard Law School alumni, lecturer in law at King Saud University in Riyadh and legal counsel. He is known for authoring the book: “Tales of a Saudi in Europe.”

He told the hundreds of gatherers in Dubai Mall that he puts himself out there to inspire positive change in the younger generations.

“I’ve been asked whether I’ve really enjoyed all the countries I’ve visited when I’m always busy trying to capture the best moments on Snapchat. But honestly, it makes me happy that many of my viewers, many of whom can’t travel, are able to travel the world from their small screens. Especially the younger generation, I wish they take the good energy I put out in the world and do the same,” he said.

Politics in the age of Snapchat

The event also highlighted another successful use of the social media application in the Gulf: political campaigning.

The UAE Federal National Council's youngest member is Saeed Al Remeithi at 32-years-old. He said that because he depended on Abu Dhabi’s young voters, he had to change tactics.

“It is traditional to set up campaign tents and print out large posters of candidates and plaster them around the roads. This is changing and I was one of the only candidates to talk to our voters exclusively on Snapchat, from the moment I registered my candidacy to the ballot box,” Al Remeithi said.

Many of the audience members flew from abroad to attend the event, especially from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where there has been an increase in internet penetration and mobile broadband subscritions in recent years, according to a study by Northwestern University in Qatar.

The night also played host to a number of Arab singers, such as the UAE’s Balqees, Saudi Arabia’s Waed, Morocco’s Abdel Fattah Grini and Qatar’s Fahad Al Kbeisi, who all entertained the crowd in between the key lecture talks.