As the first Saudi stand-up comedian to appear on stage professionally in the kingdom, Fahad Albutairi is very much a pioneer in his field. He honed his comedic style and craft as a student at University of Texas, Austin, where he studied geophysics.
He worked for a time at Saudi Aramco, but is now a full-time writer and comedian, making his debut in Manama in 2008.
Described as the ‘Jerry Seinfeld of Saudi Arabia’, Albutairi is one of the founders of Saudi’s ‘new media’ movement: using YouTube as his main distribution platform.
Along with a team of talents including fellow stand-up comedian Ibraheem Alkhairallah, they started a number of YouTube shows like ‘La Yekthar’, which loosely translates as ‘Zip it’. The show started out as ad-libbed monologues and soon developed into scripted episodes that averaged between two and three million hits each at its peak. They also started shows like ‘Khambalah’, ‘Temsa7LY’ and founded Telfaz11, a platform for distributing online entertainment content.
In 2013, his YouTube video ‘No Woman, No Drive’ went viral with 12 million hits. Based on the Bob Marley song, the video satirises Saudi Arabia’s ban on female driving. His wife, Loujain Al Hathloul, landed in trouble with authorities for taking part in a demonstration against the ban on female drivers.
More recently, Albutairi turned to acting, playing a lead role in the pan-Arab road movie ‘From A to B’, directed by Emirati Ali Mostafa, which was released earlier this year.