Khawar Jamil is a Dubai based travel blogger who together with his wife Maddy are the creative minds behind the DxB Blog. I met Khawar at Arabian Travel Market during the Bloggers’ Speed Networking event. We got talking about travel blogging and life in Dubai. It is always a pleasure to connect with fellow bloggers and to get their perspective on the market and trends. Khawar has been involved in the Internet Marketing business for over 5 years, here is what he has to say about the current situation and the future of blogging in Dubai.
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging in 2011, when I started my performance marketing blog kjrocker.com. The reason I started this blog was that I have always loved to share my thoughts and opinions about my work and the industry I work in. So I decided to create my own platform where I can share my ideas and thoughts freely.
After I moved to Dubai, I received many questions about Dubai, so me and my wife ( who was my fiancé at that time ) decided to create a blog where we can share our tips and Dubai experiences with everyone.
How would you describe the blogging industry in Dubai compared to other countries?
Personally I think that Dubai’s blogging industry needs a lot of improvement. The industry in Dubai hasn’t matured yet, as compared to other countries. So there is a lot of room to improve here. We don’t have many serious bloggers in Dubai. There is always a huge difference between a serious blogger and a hobbyist. At the moment our industry is mostly full of hobbyists who are yet to learn proper blogging.
Also there is a huge confusion between bloggers and influencers, which are two different things. Influencers introducing themselves as bloggers. The simplest way to denote this difference is: almost all bloggers are influencers. Not all influencers are bloggers. For example Instagram influencers and Snapchat influencers they can be influencers but they are not bloggers.
Do you have any tips for companies that would like to work with bloggers? What should they look at in order to have a successful collaboration?
First of all I would like to advise the brands who are interested in working with bloggers to have a goal. What you are looking out of your collaboration? Do you want to generate sales? Or is your objective to create awareness? Or you are working on a particular PR campaign for your brand? It’s always sad to see companies interested to work with bloggers but they have no clear objectives while doing so.
When I say the blogging industry still needs to mature, what I mean is — bloggers have a lot to learn, and so do brands. When you are working with bloggers, don’t always expect them to have a huge following on every social media platform. A blogger’s biggest focus is his blog/website and after that comes social media platforms. I have noticed when working with bloggers, a lot of companies and brands are mostly interested in their social media following.
Anyone can easily buy a bunch of fake followers these days.
However, one thing you should always look at is the bloggers website/blog stats, ask the blogger for their Google analytics statistics or when looking for bloggers in your industry use the tools like ahrefs and ninja outreach to find the best bloggers in your niche.
As I said before, companies and brands have a lot to learn about blogging. Some event companies consider and manage bloggers like they manage press, the difference is that press associates are paid a monthly salary by their organizations, bloggers aren’t. That is the reason I have stopped attending and covering such events, unless it’s something really my audience demands.
I would also like to advise companies to stop expecting bloggers to only write the positives and good things about them. The sole purpose of blogging is to give an honest opinion, and share your own thoughts, not to meet a company’s PR goals. Discuss with your collaborating bloggers, and encourage them to share a balanced statement about your brand/company.
What’s your opinion on numbers and social following? Do they really matter? Since there are many people who buy fake followers.
Well yes, apparently that does matter, and companies love it! However it is important to manage these followers well, not just take them in. Not many companies use tools for auditing their social audience, which I think is very important; knowing where they come from, engagement, how to retain them, etc.
I have even seen a few marketing companies sending fake followers to their customers social media accounts. A few months ago I performed a new startup’s social media audit and found out that marketing companies had invested all their social media marketing budget on buying fake profiles.
So if marketing companies do such acts, social media influencers are surely in on it, right? There are many bloggers and influencers buying fake followers, also there are many whose majority following are from third world countries, not actually from the UAE.
What has been your best blogging experience in Dubai?
There are so many of them! However, I think I always love attending Arabian travel market. You learn about so many cultures, and meet new people in the travel industry, and above all the food on the different stalls is amazing! I would also like to mention my review for Sheraton Sharjah. It was an amazing experience, the support and hospitality I received there was something I will always remember. Also I always love it when I visit new places with my nephew. I think it is important to involve a younger generation in our posts and experiences, giving our readers a wider view. Especially with places that advertise and specialize as “Family/Child friendly”.
Name your top three favourite restaurants in Dubai
Ok that’s a tough one as I have a huge list ( I love trying out different foods).
1. Kabul Darbar has amazing Afghan Cuisine I love their Chicken/ Mutton Shinwari.
2. Na3Na3, The Address Dubai Mall serves great Middle Eastern and Arabic food.
3. Carluccio’s at the Marina serves great Italian food and has a very friendly and laid back atmosphere.
If someone visits Dubai for the first time, where should they go?
JBR is always at the top of my list. I Love spending nights at JBR, as it’s one of my favourite places in Dubai. Also, Madinat Jumeirah is a lovely place, under the shadows of the Burj AL Arab you can find some great restaurants there!
A few must do activities include; a desert safari, Helicopter tours offer a great experience observing Dubai skyline from the sky, IMG world’s is the world’s biggest theme park, so you can’t miss it! Dubai Global Village is also a great place to visit, Aquaventure , Wild Wadi… Those are my top recommendations!
Do you have any travel tips for those traveling to Dubai?
I would like to advise travellers to rent a car, as compared to using taxi’s, that can save them tons of money. I know you maybe thinking who wants to drive on holiday? But you can save loads!
Also, if you are using the metro, it’s always a better option to get a metro Silver/Gold card instead of day passes, the difference is gold cabins are not as crowded as silver cabins. Apart from that, it’s a great city which has something for everyone. You will find a wide variety of cuisines from different parts of the world if you are a foodie like me it’s a heaven for you.
Dubai is a great place with people who respect each other and are very welcoming so enjoy your stay in Dubai 🙂