An important conversation tops MENA’s most trending videos for 2023
Jan 19, 2024 – minute read
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The first thing I do when we release our end of year lists for the Middle East and North Africa is quickly find who and what made the number one slot in our Top Trending Videos category.
And I am never disappointed. In past years, most trending videos in the Middle East and North Africa (the part of YouTube my team and I look after) were either major milestones, like welcoming a new member to the Annasala clan, or funny sketches that made millions laugh.
But this year was different. I wasn’t shocked to see BanderitaX, as Bandar is known to his 13.9 million subscribers, listed — his unique love for gaming and the community he built with his audience often catapulted him to the top of all sorts of lists — but what did surprise me was what his video, the top trending video in MENA in 2023, was about.
I first watched “Bandarita’s Story,” in January. I remember being in awe of the bravery and thoughtfulness with which Bandar told millions of people on YouTube about his battle with depression. And I was elated to see this vulnerability being met with not just thousands of positive comments, but also being recognized as the number one most trending video in my part of the world. For context, getting that coveted spot is no easy feat. One has to make a video that cuts through to people, has them watching, sharing, and commenting. Bandar was able to do that across the 18 countries that make up the Middle East and North Africa, where more than 300,000,000 Arabic speakers live.
I sat down with Bandar to learn more about the video and here’s what he had to say.
I wanted to show people going through this that they’re not alone, and I was hoping this video would encourage them to seek professional help instead of struggling for years when they can get better.” Bandar BanderitaX
Bandar: I've wanted to talk about this for a few years and I finally gathered the courage to do it. I wanted to show people going through this that they’re not alone, and I was hoping this video would encourage them to seek professional help instead of struggling for years when they can get better.
Bandar: I think that although there is more awareness about emotional and mental wellbeing than ever, it’s still a topic many people find difficult to confront. And to be honest, I was incredibly hesitant to make this video and was worried about backlash. But it’s a step I took with my faith in God and I am grateful I was able to release this video because in the end if it benefits just a few people, it makes a huge difference.
Bandar: I really didn’t expect it to blow up the way it did, but it feels great that I was able to help lots of people. I got messages from people telling me, “Bander, I’ve been struggling for years and I started getting treatment” and “it’s been so long and I saw a doctor and now I’m getting better.” It’s really comforting that I was able to benefit the largest number of people possible.
At the end of the day I want my content to have a positive impact on whoever is watching my channel, and if I do that with a sketch, or gaming, or being honest about my struggles, then it doesn’t matter. ” Bandar BanderitaX
Bandar: I have a deep appreciation for the community we have built on YouTube. Like I mentioned in the video, I would reach out to people randomly to see if they wanted to play and that gave me a much needed reminder that I am not alone. Also, I wanted to get better for my community. I am forever grateful for them and their support, especially after publishing this video.
Bandar: I was surprised! But I also now know that this is a conversation many people want to have. I love gaming, and I make content for the sake of my viewers — whether to entertain them, brighten their day, or make them laugh. At the end of the day I want it to have a positive impact on whoever is watching my channel, and if I do that with a sketch, or gaming, or being honest about my struggles, then it doesn’t matter.