Hayla Ghazal is on a mission to help introverted teenagers.
The Dubai-based Syrian teenager has set up a YouTube channel offering lifestyle advice that she believes will help shy teenagers come out of their shell and deal with peer pressure.
Ghazal says until a few years ago, she used to be painfully shy and struggled to “fit in”.
“I used to change schools a lot. At every school, I faced different dilemmas. But mostly, I was worried about what people thought of me,” says the 18-year-old.
In an effort to step out of her comfort zone, Ghazal launched HaylaTV, a lifestyle channel that went online seven months ago. Creating the three-minute videos – there are 26 now – forced Ghazal to find courage to face the camera.
Ghazal says her videos are meant to be "a source of all answers". The information itself is packaged in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format. Ghazal looks completely at ease in the clips, which are fun, casual and cover a variety of topics, from how to make Nutella Fudgesicles to DIY crayon lipstick to picking your outfit for the day. One of her most popular clips, titled Using Your Utensils, offers instructions on using cutlery in a formal setting and has had more than 15,000 hits.
Ghazal, who is pursuing a business management degree at the American University of Dubai, says she has always loved make-up and fashion, and got a part-time job at a fashion agency when she was 15.
“I signed up at different fashion agencies in Dubai, where a degree was not required and I worked behind the scenes on shoots,” she explains. “I would watch stylists and make-up artist work their magic on others. I learnt a lot merely by observing.”
Six months on the job also transformed her personality, Ghazal says, giving her the confidence to single-handedly start HaylaTV. Now, when she’s not studying, she spends most of her time making videos. “I hired a cameraman and an editor after going solo on the first 10 videos – I made them all on my own,” she says. “I ended up getting help because I wanted to branch out more when it comes to the topics I choose, which is not possible when I’m working alone.”
Ghazal says positive feedback from her friends, family and viewers has encouraged her to work harder at making HaylaTV a success. She’s currently working on a new set of videos that she is reluctant to talk about, but reveals that one or two might be on body language, as she has a strong interest in psychology.
• To watch Hayla Ghazal’s videos, visit YouTube.com/HaylaTV