UAE: Man who went viral without saying a word talks it up in Dubai

Khaby Lame's wordless reaction videos to so-called life hacks have made him the most popular TikToker

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Nasreen Abdulla

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Senegalese-Italian content creator Khaby Lame during the 1 Billion Summit in Dubai on Wednesday. KT Photos & Video: Muhammad Sajjad
Senegalese-Italian content creator Khaby Lame during the 1 Billion Summit in Dubai on Wednesday. KT Photos & Video: Muhammad Sajjad

Published: Wed 10 Jan 2024, 9:54 PM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 1:05 AM

For a man who went viral for not uttering a single word and having one exasperated emotion, Senegalese-Italian content creator Khaby Lame had plenty to say and express while addressing Dubai.

“I started doing videos only to make people laugh during the pandemic,” he said, speaking to a packed audience at the 1 Billion Followers Summit. “Now, thanks to God, I was able to buy a house for my mother and me with my income.”

Throwing in his trademark expressions and gestures, he kept the crowds in splits. When he was asked what he thought was success, he kept quiet for a while, as the crowd burst into laughter. “I am thinking,” he said, struggling not to laugh. “When people ask me questions, I answer. I don’t keep quiet.”

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The Tiktoker, who has 161 million followers and is the most followed account on the platform, was a factory worker at the start of the pandemic. His wordless reactions to ridiculous videos have gone viral and have been turned into countless memes and stickers.

He said the key to creating great content was to keep it simple. “I made my first videos on a very bad phone,” he said. “I did not have a light, so I just made some changes to the settings. You don’t really need a big camera or a lot of equipment to make good content.”

Grateful

Khaby said that he was extremely grateful for the opportunities he had received. “The best thing is that my mother she has become soft with me,” he said. “African mothers are never soft.”

He said the outpouring of love gave him a lot of energy to continue creating. “Every day I wake up, all energetic to make new video for my followers,” he said. “I do it for the passion not for the money or fame. And that is what keeps me going. It is important for content creators to do what they are doing out of love and passion.”

He said there were times when the fame gets too much to handle. “When I go to the supermarket, there are people who follow me to get a selfie,” he said. “Sometimes I wish I could go back to my old life, but I know it is because of love. I also get a lot of messages on social media asking for money.”

Khaby, who recently got married, said his wife sometimes struggles to adapt to his way of life. “She finds it a bit difficult,” he said. “She is just getting used to it.”

Love Dubai

Having visited Dubai in the past, Khaby said he loved the city. “What I like about Dubai is that everything is very organised,” he said. “There is a building for everything in this city. There is also a building for content creators. They take care of influencers very well here.”

He said that he had only one word of advice for his fellow influencers. “Just do it,” he said. “Don’t think too much about what people will think or if no one sees your content. Even if 10 people see it, that is a good thing. Keep doing it and be honest to yourself.”

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