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Rawad Habib: My therapist told me to break the fear of people’s judgment so now I have a web-show!

Inspirational People from the Lebanese Online Community

In an attempt to promote inspiring stories about people from the Lebanese Online Community, we, at Cloud961, have decided to dedicate a monthly column to interview an inspiring figure that has left a mark in the Lebanese online sphere. For your suggestions for this column, feel free to email me on

This month’s inspirational member of the Lebanese Online Community is Rawad Habib, one of the few Lebanese Youtubers. He moved to Paris at 17 years old, alone, to study Medicine, and it was the "tournant" as the French put it, the turning point, that led him to ignite the fires of creativity within and begin snapping photos with his first own phone, took part of Lancôme's facial product as one of their faces in minimal coverage ads, partied with international designers and photographers and danced with Rihanna in Palais M one night. There, Rawad renounced to the planned safe life for him, and came back to Lebanon on a mission to develop himself and share as much as he could with the world, in hopes to be of inspiration. He received his BA in Broadcast Journalism from the Lebanese University, and quickly following it an MA in Film Making at IESAV USJ. During his studies in Lebanon, he began going to TVC shootings as an extra, taking notes of cameras and lighting techniques, participated in Studio El Fann in the TV Presenting Category at 19 years old, until landing a main role in a Pepsi commercial, and worked as creative director freelancing for directors for TV and music videos, and worked with MBC on numerous TV Shows as background presenter, multimedia editor, and creative director. He now runs his own independent web-series “Moch War” which is currently in its second season.

Q: How did you get the idea to start your own web-series and how did you come up with the concept?
A: I have started posting videos on YouTube four years ago when a therapist asked me to break the fear of people's judgment, so I did what I feared the most: broadcasting myself. Terrifying! God, after that first video, I hid under the sheets and slept so early that day! Then until a couple of months ago, the idea grew larger, it become about broadcasting people with talents, knowledge and spectacular personalities on a moving platform in an urban environment. The concept came to me as I noted in most audiovisual works and in my daily life: as the people feel they going towards a certain place geographically, they go deeper psychologically. Plus, I became aware of Lebanon as a car-driving society, and I wanted MochWar to look like today's Lebanon. [The location of the show takes place in Rawad’s car where he drives around town with the guest who is being interviewed.]

Q: What was the feedback like once you first launched? Share with us the best and worst feedback that you have encountered.
A: The feedback has been rather welcoming and supportive, especially from the Lebanese diaspora around the world; they connect with the candid attitude of the format. I got some negative feedback over the length of the episode, which I narrowed, over the lack of information in the content which I wanted to keep as is; it's the way of a natural flow of a conversation. Now that you asked me that, I got a homophobic comment saying "Nya2 gay" which reads "Ew gay" to which my hardcore viewers replied intensively to a point that it's now "hidden due to low ratings". *giggles*

Q: What do you usually discuss in your videos and who is your audience? (Who are these videos intended for?)
A: The conversations with the guests are aimed at being the closest possible to a conversation away from the camera; ranging from relationships, to tips, to life experience, criticism of shows, music etc.... It's a chit-chat directed towards the Lebanese viewers worldwide, but I always get most feedback from non-Lebanese viewers appreciating the diversity and understanding through body language and voice intonation. I will let you in on my secret Google Analytics page where most of my viewers are from the Gulf, maybe my show offers "Arabic" speaking content with a different setting than their own. Now that TV has been "UAE Standardised", YouTube preserves identity and self-expression that viewers from the Gulf are thirsty for.

Q: What is your relationship like with the Lebanese Online Community (mainly tweeps and bloggers)? I have noticed that you are not getting a lot of their attention. Why is that?
A: The Lebanese Online Community, if calling it a community is the correct word (maybe presence is better suited) is a reflection of the Lebanese Onstreet Community... which is chaos. Online, the different cultures and backgrounds are even more highlighted, I see the mainstream fans of Najwa Karam, and Haifa Wehbeh and Elissa tweet and blog in a way that is very different that those of international or local/regional bands such as Adonis, Poly, Machroo3 Leila... I just don't know where to fit or how to tweet; I just don't fit anywhere in these two categories, I blend both. I don't advertise or monetize my web-show to put it more out there for a wider reach; I just let people discover it by themselves, which is a slow process on the getting-attention scale. 

Q: Do you get any help in producing your videos? How are you funded and who is supporting you?
A: Producing the video from planning to publishing is my own work. I'd like to believe, however, that all is a collaboration; without the guests that approve of taking that 15 minute ride (which turns into 3 minutes on YouTube), I wouldn't have been able to have content. I've also gotten help from Maajoun that designed the new logo for MochWar as well as my signature.
I'd like one day to have sponsors that help me out in paying the gas or the food or the phone calls et… but so far my work as an overdubbing artist, photographer/editor and of course my parents mostly, are my funding sources to make an episode happen. Of course, more funding means subtitles, green screens in the car, better audio definitely, better quality cameras, lights, different interior, hey! If it's enough funding, I would do the Hummer Limo in Beirut Show!  

Q: Guide us through the process that you take to produce a web episode.
A: OMG! I have to upload a video this Sunday! What to do! Who who who....who....*opens a small notebook in which potential guests names are written* Facebook! Whatsapp! Twitter DM! Kik! *gets approval* I take a small notebook, draw the car from the top, plan the camera(s) I want to place, write down nothing more than 4 questions as I let answers create questions, pick a date, pick the guest up, start rolling, and make sure all is upbeat, fun and sparkling. I come home, empty the cards, creating folders, renaming files, syncing audio and video and start the editing, then coloring, then intro/outro, bam! Export! BAM! Upload! Write in the title and description! Done! Don't I make it seem so easy?!

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge that you are facing?
A: It gets exhausting when there is not much appreciation or at least financial revenue; one slowly slips into losing the oomph to pursue. Then I quickly remind myself that the "exhaustion challenge" is just a bunch of low-vibrational thoughts, and that I am producing for myself to express myself and participate in the flourishing Lebanese Online Presence. 

Q: You have previously applied to Studio El Fann for the TV presenting category. Do you think social media/Youtube has helped you bypass the hurdles of traditional media outlets? Did Youtube make you a star?
A: Studio El Fann, at 19 years old, is definitely a benchmark in my life. It was a declaration for myself that I want to be a medium to and for the people. It took a while for traditional media to see that change needs to happen as people no longer identify with the rigid format. Today, and thanks to the online space, I was able to do it on my own, on YouTube and elsewhere... Little scoop here: I will be part of that traditional media soon, to shake things up!
I will definitely bypass the "being a star" part of the question... no one has taken a photo with me at the supermarket yet, so no....

Q: How crazy are you? (People might understand this question once they have seen a few of your episodes)
A: Being crazy is like losing your virginity, there's no going back, it only goes downhill from there. I just don't see it anymore...well maybe when I watch GloZell. 

Q: What keeps you going? What's your mission and where are you in terms of achieving it?
A: My mind aches with the turmoil of ideas, I have an urge, and obligation to express myself. Being true to that is my mission, a mission that dies at birth only to be reborn again. Growth leads to more growth. As the pioneer Yehya Saadeh says: "It's not over, until it's all over again"

Q: In your opinion, which topics can't you discuss online? What are the red lines?
A: There are some topics such as my private life that I don't share (dates, names, family, personal projects, health, sexuality and others) that I deliberately choose not to share: all the unhappy topics or the offensive; I wouldn't speak about death, suffering/illness, politics, gossip, etc... Alas you will never find me discussing topics I am not well informed about such as economy, and economy and economy, hehe… and anything with numbers. 

Q: Do you think that if you are somewhere other than Lebanon (or the Arab World), you would've gotten more exposure?
A: It's very interesting, how between Season 1 and Season 2 of MochWar, I traveled to three European countries, and I was shocked by the appreciation and feedback of any group of friends of friends that I interacted with. They were very supportive and interested and excited; something I would rarely encounter in Lebanon. Maybe I would have gotten more exposure abroad, maybe I will get more exposure abroad, but I know, for sure, that Lebanon gives me so much that I wouldn't be able to produce myself outside of Lebanon today.

Q: Do you think that the internet speed in Lebanon discourages people from watching/uploading videos? Has this been an obstacle for you?
A: YESSSS!!! The numerous nights I slept with the PC fan sound just to upload a 200MB webisode on YouTube, the countless videos I have skipped, the time to upload the photos for this interview...The world is moving at a fast rate, we're not an HD capable country, not even a 640*360 streaming capable... People just don't open the video if the connection is slow, and they forget to watch it later on. I mean people would wait the loading for the premiere video of Lady Gaga's Applause, for 20 minutes... but would they wait for a new unknown web-show with an unknown guy? I highly doubt it. 

Q: If you had to recommend one episode for our readers to check, which one would it be?
A: I really like the episode with my Grandma to a point where I went the extra mile and subtitled it in English. Check it out, it's a marshmallow episode; sweet and soft, makes your heart melt.

Q: What are the plans for Mochwar after season 2?
A: Mochwar will grow with me, as a side project, always. Even if I venture into bigger opportunities elsewhere, I have created a format that is flexible, with a jingle that is unique. I see myself at 90 years old, shooting one last Mochwar driving and speaking with music and screaming, hopefully in a better car.