Saudi YouTube Influencers, Their Relationship to Dubai and the Role of Social Media in Dubai’s Urban Branding Strategy

In: Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication
Sabrina Zahren Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich) Germany München

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YouTube influencers, especially from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), command a huge (young) audience and form part of a global pop cultural mainstream representative of the fast-growing digital content industry. These YouTubers are on one hand embedded in a highly professionalized network, consisting of multi-channel networks (MCN s), media companies, TV stations and advertising partners, all operating from Dubai. On the other hand, they feature Dubai’s cityscape and urban spaces in their posts and videos and contribute to urban branding. In this article, I want to evaluate the financially profitable relationship between influencers and Dubai by analyzing footage of the Saudi YouTuber and rapper Dyler (b. 2001). Taking into consideration the political economy of social media in the Gulf as well as the political economy of urban branding in Dubai, the article discusses the political consequences of this relationship on social media, youth culture and urban development in the region.

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