At 8.33pm on June 17, 25-year-old Haris Effendi had his camera rolling to welcome his baby son Kamran to the world. The proud dad then shared the footage on YouTube (without all the gory bits), and so far it’s had more than 4,000 views.
British couple Haris and Holly Effendi claim to be among the first vloggers in the Middle East to upload a live delivery to Youtube.
It was all in a day's work for the Effendis, who began documenting their daily lives on the YouTube channel #myabudhabilife , after they arrived in the capital three years ago. The channel has so far had 1.7million views, with 8,000 subscribers tuning in from as far as New York and Brazil.
The Effendis recently moved to Ghantoot in Dubai, but still vlog under their Abu Dhabi tagline.
As with most births, things didn’t go exactly according to plan. “I had to be induced, but still nothing was happening,” says Holly, 24, who is from Bradford in England.
“We were in this hospital room for two whole days, staring at the walls. Haris kept asking the midwives, ‘So what time do you think the baby will get here?’ They were just laughing at him.”
“It’s our first baby so I didn’t understand what was happening,” says Haris. “I wasn’t sleeping, and I started to lose my mind a little bit. But I didn’t leave the hospital. I was by Holly’s side all the time.”
Haris has been busy with his camera over the past few days to make sure that priceless moments such as the baby’s first bath, the first sleepless night, and the first visit to the paediatrician have been vlogged out to their fans. The birth isn’t yet the most-popular vlog the couple have made. That would be the time that Haris got to test-drive a Rolls Royce Wraith at Yas Marina Circuit, a clip that clocked 150,000 views.
Vlogging is a daily hobby for Haris, who pays the bills by filming events for nightclubs and hotels through his media company, FNDTV.
But it also has its perks. “Luxury hotels contact us to say, ‘You can come stay for free for two nights, as long as you vlog it’. We’ve filmed in the Palace Downtown Dubai, and we’ve been contacted by the Armani Hotel, Emirates Palace and Yas Viceroy.”
The couple admit to being fans of reality TV superstars Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, and Haris even captured Kardashian in his vlog when she visited Dubai. But they admit – with a laugh – that their #myabudhabilife show is more down-to-earth than Kim and Kanye’s. “She’s always in make-up and nice clothes,” says Holly. “Maybe that’s how they always are. But I think theirs is a lot more planned and staged than ours. If we’re having a duvet day, we don’t want to look horrible, but we try to keep it real and that’s why I think a lot of our viewers tune in. If something bad happens in our lives, we’re not going to try to hide it.”
For example, Haris was quick to turn his mini camera on when someone crashed into his car from behind. “As soon as the crash happened, I was filming the whole situation.”
Poignant moments are caught on film, too – such as the time Haris supplied meals to 150 Dubai construction workers. There also are a few funny clips – in one such video, the couple tried to eat a teaspoon of cinnamon without choking.
“People are always commenting on the banter that we have between us,” says Holly. “We like to have a laugh and not take ourselves too seriously.”
The Effendis encourage their viewers to get involved as much as possible. “We want them to feel like part of our family,” says Haris. “So we’ll talk about something and say to the camera, ‘Leave a comment below, tell us what you think’. We then reply.”
The couple plan to carry on vlogging.
Haris says: “I can’t imagine how nice it’ll be for Kamran to look back and see his birth, his first birthday, his first bike ride – all that stuff will be documented, so we can watch it with him when he’s old enough to understand. It’ll be pretty cool.”
Haris hopes that one day their antics will spark the interest of e TV companies.
“At some point, they might come to me rather than me going to them. We’ll see what happens.”
• Follow the Effendis on #myabudhabilife
Other UAE Vloggers to follow
Taim Al Falasi
Futtaim Al Falasi's Arabic Youtube show has become a huge hit since it was first broadcast a year ago, and now has more than 260,000 subscribers. The 23-year-old Emirati, who lives in Dubai, used to present a popular online Arabic radio programme, the Taim Show (broadcast on spreaker.com), before switching to regular vlogging a year ago. Al Falasi mainly vlogs on special occasions such as her sister's graduation, and from her VIP position at the One Direction concert in Dubai. She also vlogs while travelling abroad, which this year included trips to Lebanon (where she met X Factor stars), Manchester (where she watched Man City play against Barcelona), and Istanbul (where she was robbed). Al Falasi is sponsored by the fashion company Koton.
Emkwan, 31, (AKA Mohsin Khan) from the United Kingdom, was recently featured in The National, who has two channels – Emkwan TV, his personal vlog channel, and Emkwan Reviews (more geared towards tech gadgets). A third channel, the Emkwan Project, is now used as a syndication channel. His videos have had more than 7.1 million views, and he has about 25,000 subscribers. Emkwan TV, which is updated twice a week, features Khan documenting his life in Abu Dhabi with his wife and baby, and sharing footage that includes him sampling camel cookies, demonstrating how to tie the ghutra, and suffering from man-flu.
Iraq-born beauty guru Huda Kattan, who vlogs beauty tips from her home in Dubai, has 504,000 people subscribing to her Youtube show, Huda Beauty. Kattan is a professional when it comes to makeover tips, and won the Best Make-up Artist at this year's Middle East Fashion Awards.