Dubai’s diversity amazes international scopers

Move over Kardashians. Reality-TV fans could soon have a new addiction, with smartphone users around the world now able to broadcast live and unedited content at will using Periscope.

From left, Euro Maestro, Dan Moore, Marco Traniello,Christina Amato, Anika Morjaria, Lizza Monet Morales and Kelly May during their visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai. Satish Kumar / The National
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Move over Kardashians. Reality-TV fans could soon have a new addiction, with smartphone users around the world now able to broadcast live and unedited content at will using Periscope.

Some of these international “scopers” – who have amassed millions of followers since they started using the app, which was launched in March – were in Dubai last week to provide the world with a virtual window to Emirati culture and the UAE’s tourist destinations.

Dubai Tourism hosted their first “Scopers Meet” last week, with six users from Europe, the United States and Australia touring the city and live-streaming their daily sightseeing.

“We thought this was going to be an interesting way of showing the city to people all over the world,” says Aida Al Busaidy, the senior manager of Stakeholder Communications at Dubai Tourism. “We normally promote the UAE as a tourist destination through images or media, but this is something very different. We thought, why don’t we try it

because we haven’t seen any other tourism authority use this platform in this way.”

Busaidy and her team worked with Euro Maestro – a popular full-time scoper and social commentator in France, who broadcasts footage from his travels to tourist destinations, technology conventions and concerts – to develop the agenda for the tour.

Maestro, who scopes several times a day, has more than 46,000 followers. He says a lot of his viewers are from Dubai and they insisted he feature the UAE in his videos.

“That’s how the conversation started with Dubai Tourism, and through our organic network of frequent scopers we decided to get together for this trip.”

The scopers that joined Maestro in the UAE were American actor Lizza Monet Morales (10,200 followers) and writer Kelly May (12,700 followers) from Los Angeles; singer Christina Amato (4,600 followers) and card dealer Marco Traniello (11,400 followers) from Las Vegas; and Australian YouTuber Dan Moore (14,100 followers). Resident scopers Anika Morjaria and Abdullah Al Qassimi were also invited by the tourism board to join the international broadcasters.

Last Sunday, the first stop for the scopers was the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding in Dubai, to get insights into the country’s traditions, followed by a desert safari.

Morales recalls how her audiences asked questions about the local culture and her experience wearing an abaya.

“I got a little emotional,” says Morales, who calls her followers “peri-pocket pals”. “They put the abaya on me and took me through that whole process,” she says. “It felt so peaceful and it was very cool to see my viewers be like: ‘Oh! I understand that now.’ Because there is a misconception that, being a Muslim country, women are owned and told what to do – and we go to see it from a different sense, a sense of privacy and choice. I wish we had more tolerance.” Maestro, who got the opportunity to tour the IMG World and Adventures theme park site in Dubai, says he was amazed by the city’s diversity.

“It’s going to be the world’s largest indoor theme park and we paraded all around the Dubailand area with these huge mechanised dinosaurs,” he said. “Passers-by pulled over surprised and to take pictures. I’m, of course, scoping all of this and my audience has the same reaction.”

The group also visited Ski

Dubai, Burj Khalifa, the City Walk, restaurants around town and

other family-entertainment spots.

Maestro says his audience was particularly struck by the balance of tradition and modernisation in the UAE.

“They had a totally different idea of what Dubai was,” he says. “I shot some nightlife and they were taken aback by how westernised it is. I told them they need to travel here to experience stuff.”

The junket may have been one of the tourism authority’s most successful campaign yet. Maestro says the first live introduction scope from each user on the tour was watched by 12,000 people around the world and received more than 150,000 likes. It was also replayed several times.