Talk to me: All you need to know about Podcasts in the UAE

Bye-bye blogs. Move over mainstream media. Podcasts are taking over as the most trusted form of media and we tell you how to tool up and talk to the people.

people podcast

By Tamara Clarke

Podcasts are currently undergoing a global renaissance and the UAE is keeping pace with leading markets around the world. According to a report released by Markettiers MENA in collaboration with 4DC, 16% of the population now tune in to a podcast at least once a week and 92% of those listeners trust podcasts more than traditional media. With listenership and positive morale ticking upwards, if you’ve ever considered starting your own podcast, now’s the time to take to the airwaves.

Getting started

Choose a topic

The first thing you need to do is decide what you want to talk about. Podcasting takes some work and the more committed you are to your topic, the more likely you are to stay the course. Choose a topic that excites you – something you could literally go on and on about – because that’s precisely what’s required to get started and stick with it.

Find the right format

The next thing you’ll need to do is choose the format that works best for you. Believe it or not, the most successful podcasts follow a formula even if it seems like you’re simply overhearing a chat between good friends. Popular formats include: nonfiction narrative storytelling, interviewing and conversational.

Podcasts within the nonfiction narrative storytelling genre retell the true stories of others. Although this is a widely used format, it’s also tricky to master and usually implemented by journalists who are skilled at finding intriguing angles. This is the case for Vinita Bharadwaj, co-producer of KarāmaSūtra, who drew from her past life as a journalist when choosing a format for the podcast.

“A long, long time ago, I used to be a print journalist. This was a conscious choice, even though I had trained in broadcast journalism.

“A narrative podcast allows us to focus on the

story and still stay true to the voices we capture. It’s perhaps the best culmination of my years of being a print journalist and being able to tell the stories in as authentic a way as possible, through the voices of the people whose stories they are,” she says.

Interviewing is another popular format whereby the host interviews one or multiple people throughout the course of the show. This type of podcast provides listeners with different viewpoints but requires more planning and prep work than other formats. Mark Ryan, the host of Run and Rant, has found success with this format: “Anyone willing to be a risk-taker and to sit down for a chat is a good guest,” he says.

“We all have a story to tell and we all need to tell our stories. People are often shy or feel that they don’t have much to offer others (listeners). However, in my experience, everyone that sits down for a chat walks away with a greater sense of self-confidence and enjoyment in the sharing experience.”

Conversational podcasts feel like overhearing a chat between friends. This style is casual and usually requires multiple hosts. Topics run the gamut from lifestyle to current events and everything in between.

Building an audience is all about consistency – consistency across the topics you discuss, frequency and even your format. Listeners like to know what to expect when they push play and consistency is the key to keeping them engaged.

Pump it up

After you’ve put in the work, it’s time to let the world know about it. Promotion and distribution are the keys to growth, so don’t miss this final step. Submit your podcast to well-known directories such as
Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify to help potential listeners find you. If you have one, provide subscription options on your website and share widely across social media. Don’t forget to personally invite friends and family to listen in too. After all, podcasting is about making connections with people.

Look who’s talkin’

Still not convinced that podcasting is possible? Local hosts share their journey, sounding off on everything from why they started to tips to help you get your podcast up and running.

Mark Ryan

Mark Ryan

Mark Ryan is an educator based in Abu Dhabi and the host of Run and Rant, a podcast covering education, lifestyle and sports.

Tell me about Run and Rant and what inspired you to start a podcast.

In 2015, I left a career in children’s television in Hong Kong and returned to the classroom. As a teacher in Abu Dhabi, I began to search for an opportunity to express myself outside of the classroom setting. My first step was to create an online platform to share my thoughts and opinions. I created a twitter account and linked it with one of my other hobbies – running. I decided to encourage educators to communicate their opinions and thoughts after exercise – run and then rant.

My twitter following began to grow so I decided to further my creative connections with educators within the Taaleem family (one of the largest school groups in the UAE). My goal is to sit with someone linked to the school (parent, teacher, admin…) once a week with the hopes that we can better understand the people that we work with.

What tips would you give someone who’s considering starting a podcast?

Tip 1: Don’t over plan! You need to take the first step and learn as you go.

Tip 2: Don’t worry about the amount of listeners. Sharing your personal narrative and talking with others is an amazing experience. If you have passion and enjoy it, the rest will follow.

Tip 3: Don’t stop! If you want to be successful on social platforms you need content, content, content.

Tune in

New episodes weekly. Available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic and Spotify.


Vinita Bharadwaj

Vinita Bharadwaj is co-producer of KarāmaSūtra, which captures the memories and musings of individuals.

Tell me about KarāmaSūtra and what inspired you to start a podcast.

KarāmaSūtra began as a project to chronicle the communities that people have grown up with. Karāma to most people in the UAE is typically associated with a certain neighbourhood, and certain specific characteristics. I was more interested in it as a word – it means dignity in Arabic. It was the stories of the people, who move – to take action, or to anywhere – in pursuit of a better life, a life of dignity; that’s what KarāmaSūtra was always intended to be.

In March 2019, I met Chirag Desai of Amaeya Media. He’s a full-time podcaster. We spoke about KarāmaSūtra. He’s a UAE-kid as well and was already exploring audio storytelling, perhaps that’s why he was quick to say, “Let’s do it.”

What tips would you give someone who’s considering starting a podcast?

Tip 1: Ask yourself why you are starting a podcast.

Tip 2: Ask yourself who your audience is.

Tip 3: Ask yourself if you are going to be able to sustain this for at least a few years. The last thing you want is to be a one-hit wonder.

Tune in

New episodes weekly. Available on Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Google Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic and Spotify.

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