If there is something Kuwait is famous for other than its luxurious riches and extremely good-looking people, it is its food. Kuwait is a small country, but there is a food street in almost every town of the country. From traditional Arabic foods to international restaurants from different parts of the world, there are numerous places where one can dine-in and enjoy a meal by themselves or with a loved one. Many young ladies in Kuwait have turned their passion for blogging into a side-hustle or a small business. Women of different age groups write compelling and in-depth reviews of restaurants and food courts either through their personal websites or social media accounts. In Kuwait, food blogging has become extensively popular, especially amongst the youth.
Hunaira Arif is a food blogger based in Kuwait who reviews different food items and restaurants through her Instagram account. With a fan following of 8K individuals, she consistently posts reviews of some of the best restaurants in Kuwait. This week, I had the opportunity to interview her as we spoke about her blogging journey and how she managed to maintain her blog along with a full-time job, in addition to obtaining an undergraduate degree. In this interview, Hunaira also tells us about the difficulties she faced on her food blogging journey and advised a few things to aspiring food bloggers globally. Hunaira Arif can be found on her official Instagram account here: @hunairatries.
Interviewer: These days, fashion blogging and entertainment blogging are very common. However, food blogging is very unique and not very common. Can you tell us a little bit more about your journey of becoming a food blogger? Did you always want to become a food blogger or did you stumble upon this field of work by coincidence? We would love to know about your food blogging journey from the beginning till the present.
Hunaira: Indeed, food blogging is quite unique. Stating your opinion about food on a social platform isn’t easy. You give out your perspective, to which some may relate and some may not. My journey has been nothing but a beautiful trip to better days. It wasn’t easy. I was quite nervous in the beginning. But based on my honest reviews, I got an enormous amount of support and appreciation. I never had a plan to become a blogger. But my eternal love for food was something I wanted to express. Eventually, I started sharing my food experiences on my personal account and my friends really loved it. But then life took a 180 turn and it changed either way. During those days, I used to check different blogs. Their stated reviews used to make me ask for more. For instance its taste, the price, serving size, etc. That is when I took a dim view and made an account on July 3, 2020, by the username of 2:13 am as I wanted my identity to be hidden. I used to post aesthetic pictures along with self-written quotes with food reviews. But then came a time where I received a lot of appreciation on the basis of my honest reviews and my hard work was paying off. I decided to reveal my identity and named my blog “Hunaira tries”.
I started from scratch by reviewing small restaurants and it was really hard to gain followers and attracting people to my profile. But slowly everything fell to the right spot where it was meant to be. And today here we are, with a family of almost 10K.– Hunaira Arif
Interviewer: What looks like a day in your life as a food blogger?
Hunaira: I am actually not a full-time blogger but surely I will be considering it in the near future. I have always wanted to be that one lady to whom people could look up to. I have been working since the age of 18 as I wanted to pursue further education on my own. So a day starts with me working a full-time job as an Operation Administrator in a well-renowned company based in Kuwait. As I am an undergraduate, attending the classes and submitting the assignments have been a part of my routine. During the breaks or off is when I carry on with my blogging. I mostly prefer to visit the places instead of ordering them online. I try to see the staff and their serving manner too. My goal is to keep my blog quite updated, which makes me try new things on a daily basis.
Interviewer: Do restaurants reach out to you for reviewing their foods or do you send them a PR query? How does it work?
Hunaira: It actually works either way. Sometimes, if a social media executive or the owner themselves are interested and likes the blog, they reach out to the bloggers to review their PR package or visit their branch. On the contrary, if the blogger is interested in a particular restaurant or business, they can approach and provide their PR query to the business. Once the collaboration is decided, they can further discuss the details of how and when the collaboration will be done.
Interviewer: Is food blogging easy? Do you think just anyone can be a food blogger?
Hunaira: Being a food blogger isn’t easy. Stating your perspective out there on a platform where everyone has their own opinion and taste buds is really difficult. You tell what you felt while having that particular food. You click pictures from different angles and beautiful backgrounds, edit them, review them, do a little research on the restaurant, post on the different platforms, and make sure that the worthy restaurant gets their marketing.
It is easy to criticize the life of a food blogger, but sometimes it takes a whole day to edit the pictures and write a review. Blogging might be an escape for them. Then again, nothing falls at the right place at that moment itself. One has to face a lot of hurdles in order to cross the heights of success.– Hunaira Arif
Interviewer: What has been your worst food blogging experience so far?
Hunaira: Blogging surely gave me few of the bad experiences that I would look back to. One of them was a café based in Kuwait. It was quite overhyped. After seeing its hype all around the corner, I was excited to try it. I visited their main branch. Despite the fact there was just one customer at that moment with 3 staff members working on his one medium sized drink, they couldn’t attend to me while they were talking among them. I was ignored when I spoke English. While I asked them to take my order, I was asked to wait. I waited for 10 minutes when finally I had to raise my tone a bit and speak in Arabic. I was served ASAP, while the Asian customer who was already there, was served after me. They discriminated and served the drinks based on nationalities.
Interviewer: What has been your best food blogging experience so far?
Hunaira: Blogging has always been a pleasant experience. My journey has been nothing but rainbow and butterflies all around me. I have always had an amazing experience interacting with new people and trying out new things. But there would be one out of so many experiences I would like to share. I had a collaboration with one of the renowned restaurants of Kuwait. That place was included in my bucket list when I was a teenager. I was approached by that particular place to have a respectable collaboration with them. The same spot I always wanted to experience a sunset, I was offered. It was something I would always remember as a great part of my journey. Also a fact, I was just at 4K followers at that time but due to my detailed reviews, I was offered this beautiful experience.
Interviewer: Do you plan on pursuing food blogging as a full-time career or is it something you would do only part-time along with your studies and other career aspirations?
Hunaira: Food blogging is more of a hobby at the time being. But definitely once I am done with my graduation, I will be focusing more on this as a part-time career. I am basically graduating in management which somehow can merge with my blogging. I am more of a person who goes along with fate but also has set up a plan for turning the tables in further future, if needed.
Interviewer: Throughout your food blogging journey, have you ever faced any sort of discrimination or any hate from random people? If yes, how did you overcome that hate?
Hunaira: No, I haven’t received any sort of serious discrimination or hatred from random people yet. Even if I do receive any sort of hatred, I prefer to ignore. Ignorance is bliss. When you chase your dream, you might face a lot of hurdles and experience barriers. There will be at least one person pulling you down and stopping the chase. This is human nature. One way or another, having a firm belief in yourself is what matters the most.
Interviewer: Throughout your food blogging journey, what is the best piece of advice that you have ever received?
Hunaira: The best piece of advice I received was to be authentic. I was asked to do what I love, as when you reach certain heights, surely a lot will try to pull you down. So the best is to be yourself. Not to get lost while growing. Always remember where you came from. Let your roots and flaws be flaunted. Be proud of what you are today but most important is to be proud of what you were back then.
Interviewer: What is the best thing about being a food blogger?
Hunaira: The best thing about food blogging is you get to experience new places, different cuisines, and new people. It is my choice on how to monetize it. I get to have new adventures. The best thing that I love the most is that people trust me for suggesting to them different cuisines and different places try out. I have an option of making my passion, a profession. A profession that can take me to places and surely give me a lot in return. I met a lot of amazing people while I am growing. I got support from people I hardly know. Blogging surely taught me self-love. In a comparison of 5 years, I am a completely different person than I am today. I gained confidence, made new friends, interacted with a lot of new businesses. Blogging gave me a whole new life.
Interviewer: If you could describe your experience as a food blogger in one phrase, what would it be?
Hunaira: The phrase that I could use for describing my blogging experience would be –
“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”
This made me realize that the more I wish to grow myself for, the more doors the fate will open for me. It is just a matter of time and firm belief in your doings.
Interviewer: If you could go back in time, would you still choose to become a food blogger?
Hunaira: Definitely, I would actually love to be a blogger that moment itself when I had a very first thought regarding this. Blogging has surely changed my life in many ways.
Interviewer: If you could meet your younger self-right now, what would you tell her?
Hunaira: My younger self was a completely different human that I am right now. She was spontaneous, short-tempered and naïve. All I would like to say was whatever she was, she was perfect. She was loved. Just sit back and hold tight. Brighter future is on the way. You did a real good job. You held your life together beautifully while it was falling apart.
Interviewer: Is your family supportive of your food blogging journey?
Hunaira: My family has been my ultimate support since day one. They were there cheering out loud when a lot of them were pulling me down. Managing blogging along with my studies and a job was really tough. I used to plan to quit as I lost all of my strength. I found my family holding me tight during those days. Promising me that things are going to be fine and eventually they were. They didn’t want me to let go of my passion. They wanted me to work it out and find myself standing there in the near future proudly. Sometimes all you need is a little support from your loved ones. That surely makes a whole lot of difference.
Interviewer: When you first started food blogging, did you believe you’d end up having a strong fan-following and people would admire the work you put out there?
Hunaira: No, not at all. I started this page out of nowhere and I surely wasn’t aware that I will be receiving this much support. But I used to receive short appreciation notes in my DM’s, on my posts as comments. I started off with 0 followers on 3 by July and by 22 of September, I had crossed 1K followers with really good insights. It just takes a little push to chase your dreams and by the grace of God, I was surrounded by people who would support me no matter what.
Interviewer: What advice would you like to give to all the aspiring food bloggers out there?
Hunaira: Well, the only advice I would like to give them is to stay true to yourself. Post about what you love and create your own content.
Don’t let people decide what and how you should post. Be a boss of your own blog. Work it out and chase the opportunity that could benefit you.– Hunaira Arif