local4KUWAIT: Thirty-two-year-old Tareq Al-Askar is searching for a new picture of Kuwait through its people. Tareq is the owner of UrbanQ8 – the YouTube Channel that showcases innovative people in Kuwait. In this interview, Tareq reveals the secrets of UrbanQ8 and his journey into becoming the future social media star.

Kuwait Times (KT): Tell us more about yourself.
Askar: I am Tareq Al-Askar. I started filming when I was in high school. We had this project for English class, where we had to shoot a scene of a play; and that’s when I discovered that I’m good at it. I did the video and my teacher and everyone liked it. One of my friends failed in his project, so he asked me to do his. That was my start. But after that, I entered university (I studied management information systems) and I had a part time job, so I did not have time to continue making videos.

KT: When did you start UrbanQ8?
Askar: UrbanQ8 is a new YouTube channel, but I started blogging and had a broadcast in 2005. I stopped because of university and work, but in 2011, I brought back the blog and a lot of my friends joined me in my blog, but after a while they lost interest. Then I created a system where you can submit your article; if I like it, I will release it. After a while I started UrbanQ8.

KT: What made you start posting videos online?
Askar: Two years ago, I decided to get a camera and get in the field of making videos. So I bought equipments – camera, microphone. When I was trying the camera out, my friend asked me to interview someone to see if the camera and the microphone were working, and so I did. Then I posted the video on Instagram, and people loved the idea of what I did, so my friend suggested I start a YouTube channel doing this.

KT: How do you choose people to interview?
Askar: The process, basically, is following people on Instagram. If I liked him and saw that he or she has something creative to share, I send him a direct message to set a date for an interview.

KT: What were the challenges that you faced?
Askar: My challenge is that I’m working alone. I have my full time job and my life, so it is hard to keep working alone – filming, editing, finding people to interview, and managing the channel.

KT: Define your channel.
Askar: My channel has no intention to show people who are already famous. I’m trying to highlight the community that people do not know about and show that such creative persons exist here in Kuwait.

KT: Do vloggers or YouTubers influence you in your channel?
Askar: No. I just keep updating myself and watch a lot of YouTube channels to make myself better; no one influenced me.

KT: Which do you prefer: Instagram, YouTube or Facebook? Why?
Askar: I used them all. Facebook is good and has cheap advertising, and I’m waiting for Instagram to offer ads, but YouTube is the main social medium that I’m using.

KT: Where do you get inspiration for your videos?
Askar: From the people.

KT: Which do you like better, filming or editing?
Askar: Filming is my passion.

KT: How many people know about your YouTube channel and your presence on the Internet? Is it something you like to tell people?
Askar: I do not like my friends and family to know about my YouTube channel, unless they followed me.

KT: What is something you dislike about YouTube?
Askar: What I dislike about YouTube is the copyrights; I cannot use any music in my videos.

KT: Do you feel like there is pressure to keep getting more subscribers and more views on your videos?
Askar: Yes, sure, always, and that is why I’m updating my videos so people will “subscribe” and “share.” And I’m trying my best to interview people with interesting things to say to make people get interested in my channel.

KT: Which video are you most proud of?
Askar: I’m proud of each video that I made; each one is different and has its own beauty. But I liked my first video about someone called Hamzawy. When I interviewed him, he and the others in the restaurant were spontaneous, passionate about their restaurant, and not acting in front of the camera.

KT: Is your channel a non-profit YouTube channel, or can people pay you to interview them?
Askar: My channel is not non-profit, but the people I have interviewed cannot afford it. But I’m planning to do a business interview and I will find sponsors, but keeping to the idea of showing the world that Kuwait has people with talents.

KT: Where do you see yourself/what do you see yourself doing in five years?
Askar: I will keep searching for people to show a different view of Kuwait to the world.

By Faten Omar