An ambitious Architecture student in Ottawa, TikToker, Private Pilot, soon-to-be Realtor in the Greater Toronto Area, and a man with incredibly positive vibes, we sat down with none other than Salman Shawaf!
Part of the #ShawafyArmy, Salman boasts over 200K followers on Tiktok, and his down-to-earth persona and charisma has also landed him as a regular host on Blog.MiddleEast. You might also know him as part of the sibling Duo with his sister Masa and his brother Saif Shawaf.
We sat down to catch up with him first, then play some “We’re Not Really Strangers” with Salman Shawaf.
Toughest thing to explain as an Arab #arabproblems♬ ArAb StAr WaRs – lauralwaysi
Tell us a little more about your content creation journey?
To be honest, I didn’t really start making content for a particular reason. If anything, I’m not the type of person that goes on social media a lot. I just remember coming back from my exchange in Australia, and I saw my brother making videos. He asked for help, and as always, I was there to help. While helping Saif make videos, he asked me “why don’t you make Tiktok videos?” I was like it looked fun so why not. It was also an opportunity to showcase more representation around Ramadan, something our community hasn’t seen as often in mainstream media.
What is something you’ve realized since starting your journey?
I realized a lot of students were missing their parents who were in the Middle East. I would get comments that people were homesick, and the videos I post around my “Arab” family were relatable for them. In a way, we became an extension of their family and I’m grateful for that.
How did you and your sister become a duet?
My sister and I have always ‘vibed’. We normally do fun things together, now we just show it more on camera and make Tiktoks! People love her too!
Would you say Masa is your favorite sibling
What contributed you to you and your family being so close?
We’ve moved around a lot as kids. I’ve been to 10 different schools and so have most of my siblings. It’s hard to find other people who have been through that, so our experiences with each other was almost the only constant thing we had, which brought us even closer to each other.
What’s your goal with TikTok?
I’m taking it day by day. I wasn’t really into social media. I went on a social media blackout for almost two years after graduating high school. I really enjoy producing content but not as much on consuming it. I just want to make an impact. I’d like to make an impact in the arab community. I’d like to have young Arabs see themselves in me. And I’d like to do that in a comedic way.
What is something our generation does not talk about enough?
Hmm. I’d say dating outside our culture. Like a lot of people think about it, some just do it. I know to some it may seem like an issue that really isn’t an issue, but like, it’s more complicated than it sounds. And it’s not just family pressure. For example, I wouldn’t date someone based on culture, it’s a factor but not determinative. But I think there’s more to talk about.
We’re Not Really Strangers Segment with Salman Shawaf:
What is something people don’t know about you?
I’m actually very introverted, though I might seem extroverted because of social media. I like to kick-back and relax and that’s how I recharge!
What has been your earliest recollection of happiness?
Generally, I believe the first time I felt happiness was in a parking lot which the neighborhood turned into soccer field in Syria when I was in grade in 6. It was the time I felt true happiness. I’m Happiest when I play soccer.
What is a compliment you wish you received more frequently?
I wish people told me that I was a good listener.
Interviewer: Are you a good listener? Why is that important for you?
I think I am. When I build friendships, I always try to listen more than I speak. It’s a skill that I’m actively trying to work on.
What title would you give this chapter in your life?
It has to be a ‘High school Musical’ reference, the start of something new. What can I say, it’s a good movie!
What’s been your happiest memory this past year?
Coming back from Australia after corona hit there, and arriving here to see my family. It was a crazy time and I caught the last flight from Australia. It was such a relief to see them, and I’m really grateful for that.
What is something you wouldn’t want to change about yourself?
Genuine interest. I genuinely have an interest in others. I want to know more about people’s lives.
How would you describe the feeling of being in love in one word?
Interviewer: Have you ever been in love? Yes…I think.
What made you say “I think”?
Because I was young. I don’t know if I was in love with attention or the person.
Last question – What is it you really want in life?
To be happy.