UAE: How a restaurant worker became a TikTok star with 1.1 million followers

Most of the views on his viral videos come from here in the Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Tue 21 Feb 2023, 9:49 PM

Twenty-eight-year-old Pakistani TikTok sensation Mohammed Arif has gained massive popularity and shot to fame in just a year for his distinctive walking style.

The Sharjah resident is originally from Shikarpur city in Sindh province, and has been living in the UAE for less than a year, yet he has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers. Some of his videos have even registered over 50 million views.

Currently, he has 1.1 million TikTok followers and some 150,000 on Facebook. “Soon, I’ll start my YouTube channel as well,” he told Khaleej Times. Working as a supervisor at a restaurant in Muwaileh, Arif landed in UAE around eight months ago in search of greener pastures but remained jobless for a few months before he was invited to join the newly-opened restaurant in Sharjah.

How it all began

"I started practising the gait at an early age, during my days in a madrassah (religious school), as we had plenty of time to do 'mischiefs.' Initially, I was not able to walk in this fashion, and it was quite painful, too. I practised it frequently and mastered the art. Now it doesn't hurt," he said.

“Since my style is unique, nobody has been able to copy it on TikTok. Many people tried, but it didn’t work out well for them.”

Arif can walk up to 600 steps in this unique manner. “I can walk around like this and carry a heavy battery and a child on my shoulders for a short distance.”

An instant fame

Initially, Arif used to post videos on TikTok but didn’t get many views and likes.

“Around a year ago, I went to a waterpark with friends. I made my first video on a trending Balochi song in this unique style. I asked my friend to shoot it and uploaded the clip at noon. I checked the video when we returned from the park around 4pm, expecting around 10-15 views and likes. But when I opened the app, I was amazed to find over 150,000 likes and 650,000 views within four hours while the number of followers jumped from 350 to 10,000.”

One of Arif’s videos has reached 57 million views in Pakistan, the highest in the South Asian country. While many of his videos have also gone viral here in the UAE.

Arif’s first video shot in a public place in Pakistan also went viral.

“When a passerby spotted me walking in this fashion, he was surprised, and his reaction sent the video viral. Then I made a lot more videos for the public."

Shooting with other TikTok stars

According to Arif, most of the views on his videos come from Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar.

The social media star has also shot videos with many other popular TikTokers, such as Talabat delivery boy, LoveKhani, and ZamZam_electronics brothers. He is also now invited as a guest of honour, as well to inaugurate stores.

“But now I don’t often go because many people come here to the restaurant to celebrate their children’s birthday. So I welcome them on a red carpet in my unique style.”

Arif has a two-year-old son who also tries to copy his style.


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