Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time

13/11/20

I see Western media put a negative spin on our country, so I wanted to show it in a different light, said Mohammad Islam, Saudi podcaster of Mo Show. Right: Lana Nazer, yoga and wellness teacher, a guest on the show. (Supplied)

Mohammad Islam who began Mo Show in UK during lockdown wanted to remove misconceptions about Kingdom
JEDDAH: With the spike in the number of podcast listeners this year, there has been an increase in podcasters as well. “Mo Show” is one such podcast, with just one goal: “To set the narrative about Saudi Arabia straight.”

The “Mo Show” is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like, said Mohammad Islam, 37, who started the show in lockdown in the UK.
“I see Western media put a negative spin on our country and not really talking about the positives, so I wanted to show it in a different light,” he told Arab News.
The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s empowerment and their rapidly growing role in the Kingdom, and its progress in general.
The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.
“I like the element of personal stories heard from entrepreneurs, startups, people who got out of the corporate life and started businesses of their own, which is commonly seen in the restaurant industry and the health and fitness sector. So, I wanted to highlight that,” said Islam.
“In a nutshell, I want to highlight the progress of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The idea of the podcast was inspired when he was looking at American podcasters and wanted to have a say on the misconceptions about his own country.
He called some of his close friends and recorded a few episodes. “That was when it started looking doable. I looked at the areas that are changing and decided to focus on that,” he said.
Islam has lived in the UK for a long time and defines English as one of his strengths. The idea of starting a podcast came to him during the lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

FASTFACTS
• The ‘Mo Show’ is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like.

• The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s rapidly growing role in the Kingdom.

• The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.

“The lockdown made me take life at my own pace, and when I wasn’t rushing I was more in touch with my mind and my ideas. I also had a lot of time to observe the world and see what it is that I am doing and what I want to do,” he said.
The target audience at first was the English speaking majority of the globe, but later it became anyone who lives in or visited Saudi Arabia, “or anyone who has an open mind and curiosity about this country.

“The reason why I changed the target audience was that I realized that there are a lot of Saudis that don’t know what’s happening in their country,” he said. “That’s when I realized that it is for Saudis as well as pan-Arabs.”
It came as a surprise to the podcaster that pan-Arabs were interested, but he later realized they were the most curious about what was happening in Saudi Arabia and had very little information about it.
Islam was able to provide them a seat at his table as he discussed the progress of the country with his guests.
The guests are not strictly Saudi — one of his episodes featured an expat from South Africa who shared his experience of seeing the country progress over the past five years. He also talked about the negative image of the Kingdom as being an unsafe country, whereas, for him, it is the “safest country” he has ever been to.
Islam would like to see more Saudis joining podcasting. “We still have a lot of space for them, we can have many more podcasters which will allow us to amplify the positivity,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be in English … (if you speak other languages) we can let our voices reach those countries and show them what the real Saudi Arabia is like.”
The podcast adopts an interpretation mechanism for all episodes to ensure that the information reaches the widest range of audience, and is also advertised on social media on a weekly basis.
“The importance of this initiative increases as it is a basic source for the transmission of information in various fields, specifically for the average citizen in America and Europe who follows up and interacts with what matters to him in terms of events, whether they are economic, political, religious or social events,” said Islam.

This article was first published in Arab News

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