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N
ow into its second season,
Peeta Planet is an inventive
hybrid television concept
launched by young Emirati
brothers Mohamed and
Peyman Al Awadhi, and run by “Peeta
Pilots”, or social media users from around
the world. The idea for an adventure
travel show directed by its users came
to the brothers in 2009. As owners of
the Emirates-based gourmet Shawerma
restaurant, Peeta Planet, the brothers
used their Twitter hashtag, #Peetaplanet,
to ask customers at their restaurant for
suggestions of items they would like to
see ofered, their feedback about service
and more, making customers feel as if
they had a stake in the business or as if
they owned part of it. They then used
the handle to engage their followers in
a dialogue about travel suggestions and
were able to plan an entire trip to Sri
Lanka based on followers’ personalised
suggestions. The idea initiated a host of
responses, displaying a huge desire for
social media-guided travel that made us-
ers feel like they partially contributed to
the trip.
“After this experience, we thought of
creating a show where two Arabs travel,
experience things and meet people,”
the brothers explain. “We wanted to
act as modern representatives of the
Middle East, so we decided to wear these
kandorahs around as we travel. We hope
to break some stereotypes about Arabs,
and start positive conversations.”
And conversations have been started
indeed. As the crew travelled to Texas,
in the southern part of the United
States, they attracted many curious
FEATURE: LENA KASSICIEH. PHOTOGRAPHY: AL-MUKHTAR ZEYAD AND COURTESY OF PEETA PLANET
PEETA PILOTS
Emirati brothers Mohamed and Peyman Al Awadhi, the
founders of Peeta Planet, talk to VIVMAG about the first
ever travel show run by social media users.
The brothers and the crew stayed at the InterContinental when they visited Amman last month
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VIVADVENTURE
“THE CONCEPT IS UNDENIABLY
PIONEERING IN THAT IT
ENGAGES VIEWERS IN A WAY IN
WHICH THEY FEEL PERSONALLY
INVOLVED”
glances, especially as they ventured into rural areas.
They recall being on a farm, when a conventional
American farmer, outfit in cowboy hat, approached
and welcomed them to the neighbourhood.
“We found that local people want to recommend
and share good things in their communities,”
says Mohamed. “We get to try all the things you
wouldn’t be able to find on Trip Advisor, based
purely on locals’ experiences and that changed
everything.” Peeta Planet focuses on discovering
hidden gems through the lens of a local, rather than
that of a typical tourist. They seek to meet local
pacesetters in the fields of music, art, technology,
food, sport and community initiatives; the things
that contribute to the buzzing life of any city, each
unique to its location.
The concept is undeniably pioneering in that
it engages viewers in a way in which they feel
personally involved. They give advice and then
tune in to see if their advice was taken, and what
the reaction was. The brothers also chose to make
the show in English with Arabic subtitles to reach
a broader audience. “There’s a huge potential for
tourism in the region. To have a travel show lead by
two Arabs speaking English and taking advice from
social media… it’s a pretty new concept,” Mohamed
Mohamed and Peyman enjoying the view at the beautiful Citadel
in downtown Amman
Mohamed and Peyman with Luma Qudomi, founder of BeAmman and Go Local, Support Local
who showed Peeta Planet around some of her favourite spots in Amman
The brothers explored some of Jordan’s great outdoors with a canyoning visit at Wadi Zarqa Ma’in
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says. People want to share the unique things
about their culture, exchange and learn about
others who visit. The brothers add: “Social media
allows us to connect with others all around the
world. We all want to connect and it’s a platform
for us to learn and exchange with others. We
know more people than we ever could imagine
possible and we wanted to use social media’s
benefits to learn more about each other.”
When the crew arrived in Jordan, the 20th
country featured on the programme, they
focused on experiencing unusual sides of the
country outside of the typical Petra-Wadi
Rum-Dead Sea agenda. Jordan was the third
Arabic country they visited, after Lebanon and
the Emirates. They went climbing near the hot
springs in Ma’en, visited local start-up fund and
mentor to entrepreneurs Oasis 500 and spent
some time around Jabal Amman.
Wherever the crew heads, they hope to
highlight the potential of the human capital.
In terms of Jordan, a country with very limited
natural resources, the brothers say: “Jordan
is a country often overlooked by tourists and
travellers, but we have been pleasantly surprised
by its potential, and the power of its people.
People here are working to create sustainable
businesses out of limited resources which is so
inspiring.”
For the next season, the brothers, the crew
and the Peeta Pilots will be experiencing Athens,
Rome, Madrid and other exciting destinations
still yet to be determined.
All episodes are available on YouTube, or on
the website Peetaplanet.com.
“SOCIAL MEDIA
ALLOWS US TO
CONNECT WITH
OTHERS ALL
AROUND THE
WORLD... IT’S A
PLATFORM FOR
US TO LEARN AND
EXCHANGE WITH
OTHERS”
VIVADVENTURE
Meeting with the Michelangelo of pizza, chef Gabriel Bonci, for a pizza-making class in Rome
The brothers get a lesson about the history of Nova Uniao, a form of Brazilian Ju Jitsu, in Rio de Janeiro
Mohamed and Peyman grooving with performer Ages Biola at Taman Suropati park in Jakarta
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Mohamed enjoying the biggest party of the year at Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival
In Athens, Mohamed and Peyman got to witness some interesting street-art being made at the Atenistas pocket park
Meeting
new fans in
Santiago, Chile