What Connections are there between China and Arabs on YouTube?
By: Jenny Lyu / Arab America Contributing Writer
As a globally popular medium, social media video is infectious. Concretized audiovisual communications can cross cultural barriers and are more easily understood and accepted by overseas audiences. Many netizens show their creative abilities with content such as their life experiences in foreign countries to create videos from cross-cultural perspectives. This content creation incorporates both local life experiences and the topic of cultural differences while holding the audience firmly by displaying their feelings and emotions. One such channel on YouTube is called “China Arab TV-Dubai.” Unlike traditional TV communication subjects in China, which has grand narratives dominated by state institutions and official media. Through personalized descriptions and presenting the everyday life of ordinary people, this kind of human-led communication can better reach people’s emotions and gain many fans.
China Arab TV-Dubai
Cross-cultural communication and exchanges are accomplished by introducing Arab culture to Chinese audiences and vice versa. From the content, you can find out the inherent perception and curiosity of the audiences of each country about other countries. For example, when introducing China to the Arab countries, it is more about the traditional culture and what’s the connection between the Arab world and China with the Silk Road.
This channel’s series, The Culture of China, shows traditional paper cutting to Arab audiences. The exciting thing is the man is not only creating conventional Chinese paper-cutting pieces of art, but he also combines elements from Muslim art, creating his style and giving the Chinese paper-cutting a new style. Another episode introduced a traditional Chinese instrument called the Pipa, sometimes called the “Chinese lute,” which originated in the Middle East. I never knew about this traditional Chinese instrument’s connection to the Silk Road.
At the same time, what most Chinese know about the Arab world is petroleum and wealth. To satisfy the curiosity of the Chinese audience, China Arab TV-Dubai interviewed and visited lots of residents to show Chinese audiences what the lives of Arab people in Dubai look like. “Private Jet Exploration in the Middle East,” “Is petroleum in the Middle East cheaper?”, “What do you eat when you’re hungry all day in Dubai?”, ” What you didn’t know about Dubai Ramadan and Arabic cuisine”, etc. Most titles end with a question mark which shows that Arab countries are mysterious to Chinese audiences. The content in China mainly focused on luxury living in the Arab world, showing that we only know about the wealthiest of those countries. But now, the content is more on Chinese-Arab transnational love, cuisine, and travel.
While the selection of this content seems to fit many people’s fantasies and expectations of the Arab world, it also continues to give us a new insight into the charm of these seemingly mysterious people. Because of this channel, we gradually learn more about artwork, Middle Eastern style makeup, dating, workplace wear, and other exciting facets of life in Dubai.
Why Short Video Works for Multi-cultural Communication
Because of their short duration, these videos have gradually become highly sought-after content. They are loved by global Internet users, meeting people’s demand for interesting informative media. In terms of the technical attributes of the medium, the creation and dissemination of short videos have lowered the need for high-quality production. It is easy for ordinary people to get started and become vloggers, making quick video content more diversified. These videos can be widely spread because they rely on social platforms, and their mobilization has also become an important feature to netizens.
We want to create personal bonds with people from different cultures. Communicating is hard if we cannot understand others properly and lack context. Social media videos acknowledge the differences between cultures and find ways for people to develop empathy for others. Understanding each other is needed for anyone to understand themselves. Youtube videos like these make it so everyone can be a content creator and communicate with people worldwide.
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