The Middle East’s content gold rush will accelerate when YouTube launches an incubator space in Dubai’s Studio City in the first half of next year. The facility will support the region’s top YouTube creators with free access to studios, equipment and training.
YouTube – owned by Google – has become one of the region’s most popular entertainment platforms with two hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute. Last year, the Middle East and North Africa was No 2 in the world in terms of video views a day, at more than 310 million, behind only the United States.
“There is a rabid passion here for creating one’s own channel. By having a physical space the loyalty to YouTube grows and the users are more committed. Our physical spaces have turned users with thousands of subscribers into people with millions of subscribers and people become businesses,” said Lance Podell, the director and global head of YouTube Spaces.
Dubai will be the location of YouTube’s 10th physical space after opening in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Mumbai, Toronto, New York and Paris.
The Mena region has more than 40 channels with more than a million subscribers and the space will be open to all of them and any more with at least 1,000 subscribers. To shoot in the space a minimum of 10,000 subscribers is required.
While YouTube’s standard pay for the region is about US$400 per 1 million views, channels can also earn from sponsorship and product-placement deals.
Jeddah-based vlogger Mohammed Moshaya started taking his YouTube channel seriously in 2014 and now has 1.3 million subscribers, allowing him to quit his well-paid job in IT.
“I am now earning four times my previous salary with my channel. You can earn through advertising or brand deals [and] my best month so far is to earn around Dh200,000. But it is a seasonal pastime, Ramadan is the best month for watching of course.”
Hayla Ghazal has 2.3 million followers and over 400 million views for her lifestyle channel Haylatv.
“It is a business and I treat it as such, making three videos on a schedule every week. However unlike other businesses you can take this with you and produce anywhere anytime. Viewers won’t wait for you so you have to keep publishing.”
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