Dubai: Can you get paid to travel? Influencers spill secrets of monetising content

Creating content constantly is often challenging, especially for their mental health, said one speaker at 1 Billion Followers Summit


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 11:17 AM

Last updated: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 12:28 PM

Kasem Hato, popularly known as Ibn Hattuta on social media, was a broke first-year university student when he first discovered the magic of low-cost travel. “I thought I had to be rich to be able to travel,” he said. “But I soon discovered hacks to travel on a shoestring budget. Then I wanted to share this with other people, so I began making videos.” Today, the Youtuber has close to 2 million subscribers and has travelled to several countries worldwide.

He was addressing crowds and other travel bloggers at the 1 Billion Followers Summit in Dubai on Wednesday. The panel discussion centred around how to get paid for travelling.

“The most important thing is not to focus on money,” said Khoubaib Kouas. The YouTuber featured on the Forbes Middle East’s 30 under 30 lists last year has travelled to over 47 countries since beginning his career in 2017. “You have to have an ambition and work hard to create good content. You have to show different cultures. People come to your channel to get entertained, so that responsibility is on you.”

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Making money

The speakers unanimously agreed that making money while being a content creator was challenging but possible. Walid Elmusrati owns an Airbnb that aids his income. “Diversifying your income is important,” he said. “I have content creation companies, and I manage social media accounts for celebrities. It is important to make sure that you have a safety net.”

The moderator of the session, Fuad Almasoud, Growth Director (Arabia and Africa) at eSIM store, Airalo, said that the entrepreneurial mindset helped these content creators be able to travel for money. “The new generation content creators are thinking of it from the sustainability aspect,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the event. “How do you monetise as you go, and how do you maintain this lifestyle? With this mindset, they create different ways of making money with different activities.”

Another influencer, Kareem Elsayed, added that it is easier to make revenue on YouTube nowadays. “When we were first starting, it took years to get revenue on YouTube,” he said. “Nowadays, it has become much easier. It has almost become like a job. But the key is to create a personal relationship with your viewers and only partner with brands that suit your followers.”

However, Kasem warned people to refrain from becoming content creators to make money. “If money is the first thing on your mind, that means you don’t have passion,” he said. “You will burn out really quickly because making content is hard work. If you start because of a passion to tell stories, once you have enough followers, you will find a way to generate revenue.”


The speakers admitted that creating content constantly was often challenging, especially for their mental health. “Usually, people travel to relax, but when I travel, and I am not making content, I feel like I am wasting my time and money,” said Walid.

Kareem said that he takes scheduled breaks during the middle of the week. “Most of my travels are for work, so I schedule and take downtime during the week when everyone else is working,” he said. “Otherwise, I will get burnt out. Content is a never-ending cycle.”

Kasem added that he took up hobbies to take care of his mental health. “I picked up sports like skiing and skydiving,” he said. “These are activities I can do even when I am travelling. And usually, when I am skiing, I don’t film. That is my me-time.”


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