Amidst the glitz and innovation of Dubai, social media influencers have embraced a meteoric rise. A decade ago, it was a passion; now, it's a profession. In Dubai, Instagram influencers span beauty, travel, lifestyle, and F&B, commanding millions of loyal followers. Recently, the UAE earned the title of the world's social media capital, with a stellar score of 9.55 out of 10 by Proxyrack.

UAE’s top influencers

Huda Kattan, the renowned beauty influencer and founder of Huda Beauty, boasts an impressive 53.2 million followers. She's earned global acclaim for her makeup tutorials, product reviews, and beauty tips.

Khalid Al Ameri, an Emirati social media influencer, enjoys a devoted following of 2.5 million. Known for his inspirational and positive content, he provides insights into Emirati culture, family values, and personal development. His viral videos have earned him a substantial presence on various platforms.

Mo Vlogs, the popular Dubai-based YouTuber and vlogger, has amassed 4.4 million followers. He rose to fame through his engaging lifestyle vlogs, supercar reviews, and thrilling adventures.

Taim AlFalasi, an influential Emirati content creator and entrepreneur, commands a following of 4.6 million. She shares captivating lifestyle and travel content, offering glimpses into her diverse experiences, making her a prominent presence on Instagram and YouTube.

In the UAE, people use an average of 8.2 social media platforms, ranking third globally. Additionally, the UAE has the highest Facebook usage, with over 100 per cent of the population.

Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube have turned countless people into content creators.

Lowi Sahi, a social media influencer and video creator with 1.6 million Instagram followers offered her perspective on the changing landscape. She reminisced, "In 2016, when we had a compelling story to share, it would garner a remarkably high engagement rate due to the scarcity of global content. Today, especially in the post-Covid-19 era, almost anyone can become an influencer. We've witnessed countless individuals create funny videos as a mere jest, only to become global sensations. If I were to post the same videos I created seven years ago, I doubt they'd find success, given how trends, audiences, and the world have evolved since then."

No shortcuts

Coral Steven, the founder of DXB_Hun, said that passion is the cornerstone of achieving success as an influencer.

Emphasising the importance of communication and professionalism she stated: "Answer that email, phone call or text message and always be professional. Building great relationships and reputations is important. Be consistent, you’re going to have to turn up every day. Becoming an influencer doesn’t happen overnight. It has taken me two years and a lot of sleepless nights."

Offering some practical advice, she added, "“If you have a seven-day turnaround for a video, then stick to it. Be polite and respectful to everyone you come into contact with, whether that’s the person behind the emails or the waiter serving you at the restaurant. Lastly, be yourself. People will fall in love with you and your personality, be real and you will naturally shine.”

Fierce competition

Safia Mansoor, the founder of Cuptaleswithsafia, pointed out the prevailing competition on this platform, where everyone strives to outdo one another. "Competition is immense, making it one of the most challenging aspects of establishing your mark in this industry.. However, relatability is the key every individual or influencer holds. Build a community where your audience knows you for your work, even if it’s a small community. The impact you have on them is what makes you successful.

How does one arrive?

Lowi Sahi revealed that many influencers took years to be discovered, highlighting that the timing for achieving success in this field is subjective.

“From 100 people, maybe 100 will succeed in 10 years. My gym coach Saif Alyasi, one of the most renowned coaches in Dubai, never gave up on his content since 2017. In 2022, he signed with a European page and he saw his engagement and fame flying through the roof. It might also be his sportive competitive mind that gave him patience and consistency. But many people don't have this strength and belief in what they are doing so they give up after posting few videos with no engagement,” he said.

“The truth is, none of these big rich influencers thought about business when they started. They started and pursued the journey based on their purpose and passion. So out of 100 people, only the ones who are passionate will succeed, even if it takes time,” explained Sahi.

Inspired by the extravagant lives of well-known influencers, numerous individuals venture into this field but often exit prematurely due to the desire for quick earnings, which rarely materialise early on.

In the world of influencers, income fluctuates significantly, contingent on factors like popularity, engagement rates, niche, and brand affiliations. In addition to earnings from specific platforms, influencers frequently broaden their revenue sources by tapping into various platforms, merchandise sales, sponsored content, affiliate marketing, brand partnerships, and other lucrative opportunities.

Atul Hegde, founder, Yaap, said the primary source of income for YouTubers is through the Partner Programme, which allows creators to earn money from ads that appear on their videos. The earnings from YouTube ads vary based on factors like ad formats, viewership, ad engagement, and the niche of the channel. On average, YouTubers with one million subscribers could earn anywhere between $0.01 and $0.03 per view and an average of $0.18 per view.

Instagram earnings depend on various factors such as the influencer's niche, engagement rates, and the type of collaboration.

TikTokers have fewer monetisation avenues than YouTube and Instagram. They primarily generate income through brand partnerships and sponsorships.

"Even with limited monetisation options, TikTok can be significantly more lucrative for content creators as they ride the wave of the platform's popularity to charge higher fees," said Hedge.

Event charges

Regarding event charges, Sherry Gupta, the founder of Excel Comms, categorises influencers into two main groups: macro-influencers and micro-influencers.

Typically, micro-influencers charge an average ranging from Dh500 to Dh4,000. In contrast, macro-influencers are known to command fees of up to Dh20,000.

"The actual payment can vary based on factors like the influencer's specialisation, engagement levels, and the brand's requirements. Those in the celebrity category can go as high as Dh50,000, too,” said Gupta, adding that influencers typically request fair compensation, creative control, clear expectations and event details.

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