A comedian is working in order to make weddings more financially viable for grooms. As a stand-up comedian, 22-year-old Dhafir Al Harbi is no stranger to bringing smiles to the faces of people. He’s done so in Oman, Britain, and Austria. “I like to take something everybody agrees on and tell jokes designed to change your mind. On the ride back, the audience should laugh about how I managed to convince them. I don’t like easy comedy,” said Dhafir.
However, Dhafir has his eyes set on a different kind of happiness as well: A blend of charity and volunteer work.
Dhafir’s latest initiative started after a conversation with a friend in Sur. They decided that weddings were too expensive: What if someone were able to convince a company to offer one free service? “I was shocked by the interactions on social media when I asked. Companies, mostly small ones, came in droves, saying they would love to exchange advertisements for free services to pre-chosen grooms. I and the others agreed that we needed to organise this project properly.”
“Now we have a number of companies, most notably Tarteeb, which fixes up the groom for the wedding, and a home-based sweets company called Ghansha. These two are both very enthusiastic, although we’re trying to diversify and work with multiple companies. Small perfume parcels, gifts, anything a company can offer.”
Dhafir wants to support two weddings every month. “And we never let anyone know who we helped. We aren’t in this to embarrass people,” he added.
During their first month, the initiative helped one groom. They offered designs for the wedding home, lighting, the hall’s stage area, as well as other services. This resulted in total savings of around OMR600, but Dhafir said, “My goal is for a groom to not pay a single baisa for his wedding.”
Despite living in Al Amerat, the comedian is hoping to recruit companies all over Oman. “If there’s a person in, say, Sharqiyah, we would ask them to do the advertisements for us, since they know the area and have local contacts. I can’t do this alone, so I’m trying to organise as many social media people as possible.” This initiative is not Dhafir’s first community service. The comedian has been dead serious about volunteer work for years.
“It started a while back,” Dhafir says. “City Seasons wanted me to set up a competition and gave me coupons for rooms and a dinner. I didn’t like the idea of a random draw-what if the product fell in the hands of someone who doesn’t need it?” Dhafir eventually set up the draw only for people who were eligible for social security benefits. Two families of five won that draw. The concept spread to his other work like wildfire. Just this week, he offered a children’s media production course for Renaissance Day, collaborating with Akkasa.
“Anyone can do a draw or advertise for whoever offers money,” he says, “but it keeps me up at night: Who am I really helping?” Dhafir has somehow managed to balance volunteer work with his comedy. The social media personality has held shows all over Oman, as well as in Britain and Austria. Dhafir recalls there being no real stand-up comedians in the country when he started to joke for laughs in 2013.
“There was a competition held in Majan College. I can’t remember who organised it or whether it even had a name. I didn’t win, but I reached the finals and I remember thinking that this is a talent I could try and cultivate. I was fresh out of high school. I use Snapchat for experimentation. I’ll talk about something on Snapchat, mostly a social issue, and if the feedback shows me a road, I follow that road to the stage.”