UTURN: Turning Saudi Entertainment Upside Down
September 21st, 2017
Join the World Affairs Council in welcoming Kaswara Al-Khatib, CEO and chairman of UTURN Entertainment, to discuss the Arab World's turn to online entertainment through the story of the fastest growing online video content network in the Arab World. The conversation will be moderated by multimedia storytelling pioneer Hanson Hosein, the director of the Communication Leadership master's program at the University of Washington and the President of HRH Media Group LLC.
Though Saudi Arabia has the highest YouTube watch-time per capita of any country in the world, it was not until 2010 when a platform dedicated to Arabic-language video content was established. Created by Kaswara Al-Khatib in 2010, UTURN Entertainment was conceptualized as a tech platform for entertainment and content development much like Netflix—but all in Arabic for a Saudi audience. Boasting over 35 million subscribers, more than two billion views, and approximately 100 million new views per month, the platform is now the fastest growing online video content network in the Arab World. As the Kingdom does not regulate online content developed within the country, the content aired by UTURN ranges from drama to comedy, and often uses satire to address serious, political issues.
Al-Khatib will discuss the Arab World’s turn to online entertainment through the story of UTURN. Using examples such as monitoring audience response to pilot programs, showcasing the work of rising producers, and negotiating partnerships to air content in the French-speaking Arab World, Al-Khatib will highlight current media trends in the Middle East and the future of the online entertainment industry in the region.
About the speaker:
Kaswara Al-Khatib is a serial entrepreneur, marketer, and online media mogul who currently serves as the CEO and Chairman of UTURN Entertainment. Al-Khatib began his career as a marketer at Proctor and Gamble, before launching his own advertising agency – Full Stop Advertising back in 2002. In 2010, he founded UTURN Entertainment, an online video content producer, marketed at young audiences in the Gulf. Its content ranges from drama to comedy to religion, and it often uses satire to address serious, political issues. Under Al-Khatib’s leadership, UTURN has grown from a small producer of online videos to a Multi-Platform Network, with more than 35 million subscribers across its various social media platforms. Altogether, its videos have received more than two billion views, with around 100 million new views per month. In 2014, Al-Khatib was named as Saudi Arabia’s “EY Entrepreneur of the Year”, and in 2015, he was ranked #1 by Forbes Middle East on its list of entrepreneurs shaping Saudi Arabia’s future.
About the moderator:
Hanson Hosein is the Director of the Communication Leadership master's program at the University of Washington and the President of HRH Media Group LLC.
He's a pioneer of multimedia storytelling: as an Emmy and Overseas Press Club award-winning journalist for NBC News, a solo TV war correspondent with MSNBC and CBC in the Middle East and a documentary film director whose work has been streamed and broadcast worldwide.
While at the UW, Hanson has also been recognized as Seattle's "Most Influential" as he engages publicly with our region's leaders on-camera and on-stage. This work is captured in a permanent exhibit on innovation that he produced for the Museum of History and Industry, his book "Storyteller Uprising: Trust and Persuasion in the Digital Age," and through various global gatherings. Hanson regularly keynotes and convenes conversations for major tech companies.
He has law degrees from McGill University and the University of Paris, as well as a master's in journalism from Columbia University.