Businessman and Actor Mo Ismail talks about local responses to the World Peace Initiative
A Dubai-based entrepreneur and actor's initiative to reward social media users for promoting good deeds and spreading positivity on their accounts has spread to other countries in a bid to address pressing regional issues, according to founder Mo Ismail.
Ismail – popularly known as ‘Mo Muscles’ – is a fitness expert, bodybuilder, actor and producer with more than 221,000 followers on Instagram, which he often uses to collaborate with fitness, lifestyle and entertainment brands in the UAE.
In December, Ismail launched the World Peace Initiative – using the hashtag #WPInitiative – to give weekly prizes to social media users who upload pictures or video of them doing something that benefits the community or other people, or even animals.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Ismail said that although he received a significant amount of submissions, in his opinion the responses “weren’t what I’d hoped for or expected in terms of people constantly doing stuff for it.”
“I don’t blame people for that. There’s not a lot of things [in the UAE] that you can go out there and do on a daily basis,” he said. “The amount of things you can really do here is nowhere near what it is overseas. You never see beggars here, or trash on the streets, for example, so it was hard getting submissions locally.”
“I ended up getting more engagement outside the GCC rather than here in Dubai,” he added. “We live in a five-star bubble here compared to a lot of other places.”
Larger, monthly prizes
In response to these trends, the initiative is now giving away larger, monthly prizes – such as watches or restaurant vouchers – and is working to highlight larger regional and global issues through a dedicated Instagram page. There are now several other people involved in the campaign.
“We try to feature humanitarian type stories, environmental issues and [topics such as] oceans, land and climate change,” Ismail explained. “We want to start getting people to wake up and see things that are happening in the world that aren’t getting attention.” Additionally, Ismail said that the initiative’s initial efforts to get Dubai-based influencers to collaborate were largely disappointing.
“I tried reach out to influencers to be a part of it, and all of them – and this is what I don’t like – were excited, but when you ask them when they can help, even with a post, most of them were all so selfish,” he said. “It was all about self-promotion for them.”
However, Ismail said he is still pleased with many of the submissions and actions that the initiative has encouraged, which have included a campaign with a local mosque to send care packages to refugee families living in the UAE, helping animals, or taking underpaid security guards on their first trip to eat and enjoy a local shopping mall.
“For me, it’s great,” he said. “The message is being broadcast and people are involved.” Ismail added that he expects submissions to ramp up just before and during Ramadan.
“We’ll definitely get more from countries like Jordan, Libya and Morocco where there are a lot of things happening and a lot of things that can be given,” he said. “We’ll also get more submissions over here.”
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Mon 25 Mar 2019