Must-Listen to Podcast: Up Next by Ali Mortada

We, at The Modern East, love to appreciate our UAE-based talent, and for today’s feature, we have the pleasure of introducing someone who does the same! Aly Mortada is a 20-year-old, Egyptian, Economics major at the American University of Sharjah with a massive interest in podcasts. So much so, that he started his own to showcase talents and influential figures that are making a difference in the region! If you’re an avid podcast listener, you’re definitely going to want to check out Up Next by Ali. To learn more about him and his podcast – keep reading!

How it All Began

Credits: Instagram (@nextupbyali)

Growing up in the age of technology, Ali always turned to different mediums of knowledge accumulation other than just books and reading resources. As an auditory and visual learner, he would usually turn to infographics and documentaries on YouTube for both leisure and knowledge, and eventually came to the conclusion that he just hated reading! “I despised reading,” he tells us, “Fun fact, I actually never finished a book in my entire life that was not related to school. I genuinely hate it, like I can’t sit still long enough to read a book!”

Come some years later and Ali was introduced to the concept of podcasts and his interest in the medium slowly started to arise. “I can’t lie I wasn’t exactly an avid consumer of podcasts,” he admits, “I liked them, but I wasn’t that into it. Then, I stumbled on a show called #ABtalks by Anas Bukhash and I loved how you could just have genuine conversations over podcasts/shows. So, I would say that this somewhat sparked my interest in podcasts.”

One of Ali’s biggest goals in life is to have a platform where he can raise awareness on mental health, and he set this goal in 2018 with no idea about that kind of platform that would be. Through trial and error of different mediums, Ali ultimately decided to create a podcast and have it focused on that. “It was also kind of like the killing two birds with one stone kind of thing,” he says, “I absolutely love public speaking and I talk A LOT so in my mind, this was the perfect combo.” After discussing the idea with family and several brainstorming sessions, and jotting down the idea, Ali finally made “Up Next” happen and has since amassed over a thousand followers on Instagram.

What is “Up Next” All About?

Credits: Instagram (@the3ali)

Up Next is a platform for the youth by the youth in which Ali brings on young and upcoming artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, designers, and others in many fields, and have genuine conversations about the work that they do, how and why they started, the challenges they faced, mistakes that they made, and have them share their advice with others from the youth community that is interested in pursuing a similar path.

“It is all about giving a platform for people from the youth community that is doing cool things where they can talk about their unfiltered story from A-Z and give back to the youth community at the same time by sharing some of their learnings and insights either directly through the advice segments or indirectly where they bring up something in the middle of the conversation about the story that could possibly benefit or add value to someone that is on a similar path and finds such information relevant,” Ali says, “This is also the whole idea behind the name, where the people that come on our “Up Next” in their respective fields.”

The Impact of Human Stories

Credits: Instagram (@the3ali)

“I Think human stories and storytelling, in general, have a huge impact on people and not just on those that want to venture into a similar field, but I think they help add value to different things in our lives and on many scales,” Ali tells us. With the goal of bringing people together to help inspire members of our society and prove that all their goals and aspirations are possible, they also serve as some form of entertainment with genuine humor. “I personally think that putting a smile on someone’s face is one of the greatest things that we can do,” he says.

“Additionally, human stories and storytelling are a huge part of society, from the time we start talking we go back to our parents until all the “crazy” things that happened in the nursery that day, and we sit and pay full attention when our grandparents tell us their incredible stories, so I think they are a huge and constant part of us, and I absolutely love it.”

Accolades and Moving Forward

Credits: Instagram (@the3ali)

From being invited to speak on a panel about podcasting for the first time, to even greater achievements like ranking 27th on the UAE Apple Podcast charts for all categories and ranking number 4 in the education category, it is clear that Ali is making a name for himself in the podcast world, as well as bringing the region’ society together on the whole.

Looking ahead, Ali hopes to be the number 1 podcast in the UAE, but for the time being, he hopes that he can have my own studio in the near future when the pandemic ends. Most importantly, Ali hopes to keep adding value to listeners and continue to establish this platform as one that helps the youth community and provides some form of inspiration to people with the value that “positive impact is the only thing that matters.”

“If I could say one thing to my listeners, I think I would tell them to add value and spread love and positivity everywhere and in every aspect of life,” Ali says, “Adding value could be as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face or by turning their lives around, and in my humble opinion it is why we were put on this planet. No one cares if you are the best investment banker or engineer, be the best HUMAN that you can be and do that by being kind to others.”

Up Next episodes drop every week on Wednesday at 5 pm on all of the major platforms; apple podcasts, Spotify, google podcasts, and stitcher. Follow Ali on Instagram to stay updated with all the latest episodes now.


Omaya Michelle

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