YouTube launches Batala for female content creators in MENA
Women participate in a panel during Batala's launch in Riyadh on Monday. (Arab News)
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YouTube on Monday launched a new hub called Batala (youtube.com/batala) just for female creators from the Middle East and North Africa, which featured more than 100 female creators from the region.
Announced during an event in Riyadh, the channel has more than 1,000 videos and is categorized by genres such as comedy, education, fitness, and many more. The hub will also highlight a new list of creators every month at the top of the channel.
“With the continuing growth of female content creators in MENA, we want to keep the momentum going. With YouTube Batala, discovering new creators and their work is now easier than ever. The hub highlights the work of some of our best creators in the region, and showcases high-quality Arabic content to YouTube’s 1 billion users,” head of YouTube Partnerships in the Middle East of North Africa Diana Baddar said.
“We continuously grow the amount of Arabic content that exists on YouTube, and that is due to the fact that all these creators that you see here today took the first step and got on to the platform,” she added.
“We are seeing on a day-to-day basis that more and more creators are opening their own channels, making content that interests them with the hope that it would interest other people, so we expect a growth in content creation in the region.”
YouTube Batala highlighted top creators from Saudi Arabia like Njoud Al-Shammari, a lifestyle YouTuber, Hatoun Kadi, owner of the Noon Al-Niswa channel, Al-Jauhara Sajer, discusses fashion and beauty tip on her channel, Hissa Al-Awwad, who specializes in nail art, Amirah Al-Abbas, owner of the Qawareer channel, Rana Al-Ahmadi, a make-up artist.
The event also featured Enji Aboul Seoud, an amateur film critic from Egypt, and Haifa Bseiso, a travel vlogger from Palestine. It also featured top MENA creators such as Noor Stars and Hayla Ghazal, who each have more than 2 million subscribers.
The announcement comes as the supply and demand of female-related content continues to grow on the platform. In the Middle East and North Africa alone, the total number of hours spent watching female-related videos grew by 50 percent in 2015. While in Saudi Arabia, the Consumer Connected Survey found that 63 percent of Saudi females are motivated to watch their most recent online video sensation to be entertained or inspired.
YouTube Batala kicked off with morning panels/workshops lasting until 3:30 p.m., with female creators discussing challenges and opportunities for women and brand building on YouTube, and the importance of female-led content, the value of female presence in media, and how to deal with harassment.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, vice president for women’s affairs of the General Sports Authority, held an essential panel conversation motivating young women to build a better reality despite their frustrating surroundings/circumstances.
Princess Reema shed light on her 10KSA, an awareness campaign highlighting breast cancer.
“Batala, or heroine in today’s meaning, is the one who thinks about herself and others around her, and how to benefit others,” said Al-Saud.
Asked about Alf Khair, a social enterprise, founded by the princess, she said that there is nothing wrong with working and getting money in return. However, in today’s logic, if your work doesn’t benefit your society, it means it has no sustainability and scalability, and you want to develop it in order to succeed; but if you don’t develop it, it will remain a small business, which okay, too, but small business doesn’t benefit the whole society.
Al Saud discussed problems facing women in the retail/sales sector, which led her to withdraw from the administration department at Harvey Nichols and head to Amsterdam to join the Think program school for creative leadership.
“The women in retail do not have the training that they need as women before entering the labor market,” she added.
The princess also pointed out the importance of the self-branding tool kit, “If you need to approach/achieve your goals in a certain area, your need to develop that area in yourself, and then go from self-branding to self-sufficiency.”
“Self-sufficiency is financial independence. The money in your hand today, is the money you will live on 10 years from now. Self-sufficiency teaches you how to invest in yourself and what your priorities are, and how to develop yourself to reach your desired distention.”
Talking about the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Al-Saud said that we want a healthy society and a healthy generation, “that’s my goal!“
She advised creators and those who wish to be content creators to focus on the product they are marketing, “you have a responsibility. Pick the product well, pick the project well, pick your program well, and pick your message well. Think about how to build a good reputation and bring something to the table. Find the hole in the market and focus on your essence.”
“I am very proud of what is happening, because where we were four years ago to where we are today, there has been a massive growth! We have thousands of channels in Arabic created by Arabic female content creators. That in itself proves that women haven’t found the content that interests them as much, so they felt the need to create it themselves,” Baddar said.
“Because we still haven’t reached the peak of Arabic content creation, these girls are stars in their own right, as people are hungry for Arabic content so they are driven to these channels,” she added.
The female-only YouTube Batala event exceed Baddar’s expectations, for today, “the region has such a large number of creators expressing themselves and talking about their journeys on the platform, and what we see here with all these people around us, it was the best opportunity, and it is not the last one in Saudi Arabia.”
Baddar revealed a coming YouTube event in early 2017, “stay tuned for something else that will impress you even more by the size of event compared to this one.”
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