One of the most popular young TV Presenters that Bahrain TV has seen so far stumbled into the position by chance, Noor Al-Shaikh was more interested in fashion than media. Little did she know that this slight shift in plans would land her a spot on TV and change the course of her career. We got together with Noor, to discuss how she broke through on television, the obstacles she faced, her career ambitions, and future plans.
Were you always interested in media?
Naturally, we all interact with media in one way or another, whether it's print, TV, radio and of course the new social media; I was and still am an avid reader of magazines and enjoy watching TV. But to answer your question, I never really pictured myself being ‘part’ of the media.
Were you planning to be a TV Presenter?
I never ever dreamt of being a presenter, it was never part of the plan, but it all happened suddenly. In university I studied international fashion marketing, and I had just returned to Bahrain and started my own business project a vintage boutique in Bahrain. I was fully focused on making it work and getting all the aspects of running a business in order, TV presenting was not even on my mind.
How did it happen?
I had my vintage boutique at that time, and got a call from the executive producer of Hala Bahrain (the morning show on Bahrain TV) asking me to start producing the fashion segment in the show. Naturally I said yes, it seemed like the perfect fit combining my love for fashion and also getting my name out there for the fashion addicts in Bahrain. I would appear as a guest presenter of the fashion segment on the show for a couple of months talking about the latest styles and fashion. Then the producer asked me to be the presenter of this segment instead of a guest presenter. I was comfortable with it and discovered that I enjoyed being part of a daily show so I went ahead and did it. To my surprise, by the end of the season the producer asked me to be a co-anchor on the show! To them it was the natural next step and it wasn’t an offer to be turned down from my side either.
What are some of the obstacles you faced when you started presenting?
Mainly it was the language. I went to a private school in Bahrain and then lived and studied abroad for 4 years in Manchester, UK. As a result, I was reading, writing, and talking in English for most of the time. When I did the fashion segment on the show switching to Arabic was a challenge but the segment was short so I managed it. However presenting a full show in Arabic with a variety of topics and interviewing guests on live TV was a big challenge to me. I knew I had to polish up on my Arabic skills starting from grammar all the way to reading more Arabic content. My father was the biggest help with grammar and I started to read more and more books in Arabic. I read everything now! Children’s books, poetry, novels; you name it and most likely I’ve read a book about it. During this process I rediscovered my love for the beautiful language of ours that is Arabic.
Another challenge that faced me was getting the right tone and pitch of my voice for TV. Off camera I tend to speak in a low voice, so I had to also train to get the right tone for when I’m on camera while still sounding like me!
Are you going to continue presenting, is it going to be a permanent career move?
For the time being I will definitely continue presenting. I simply love it, everyday is a new day. I am learning so much and the world of media is expanding continuously. It’s also a very interactive environment and I love being part of that. I consider myself lucky to have a job that I look forward to going to every morning. I hope I can translate my positive energy to provide my audience with a fun and informational show to look forward to.
What kinds of programs do you dream of presenting?
I did and still do a morning show. Recently I was the co-presenter of Dubai TV’s Najm Al Khaleej talent show, which was a very good experience for me and it was a live show too with some of the biggest names of the Arab music world as judges. I am in the self exploration phase when it comes to new programs, I am pretty much willing to consider any type of show/program except politics as it is a big no-no for me. I hope I will be fortunate enough to try as many genres as possible to find my perfect fit.
How did people react to you at first? Did you get a lot of positive praise being a young Bahraini presenting on national TV?
I'm surrounded by positive people all the time, at home, at work, and with my friends. I did get a lot of positive feedback and support from them, but I think some people needed time to accept me being in TV especially that on the previous season of the show both presenters were older and familiar faces from the media. I was more or less the new kid on the block with no academic media background, and while some viewers accepted me immediately others had to take their time and watch my performance to be convinced I was not another pretty face on TV but rather a good new presenter. I think that is fair and I’m happy to say that I receive great feedback from more and more viewers each day.
What's in the future for Noor Al-Shaikh?
I really do not see myself making long term plans at the moment . I love being in the moment, and for me that it is to keep on presenting and be open to new opportunities. I enjoy living each day as it comes and making the best of it .
Any tips for young people trying to break into the world of media?
Media is not just a career, it is a lifestyle. You need to be prepared to make so many sacrifices. That’s why you have to love it to enjoy it. It is not easy but it is an amazing field, Most importantly focus on what you want to achieve and don’t take negative comments personally. Make sure you are surrounded by good people, and just be yourself. Take what you do seriously – read and know what you are talking about. Last but not least, don't take fame too seriously you don’t want to walk with a big head- it is so NOT cool.
To check up Noor Al-Shaikh's exciting career, follow her on twitter @nooralshaikh87
Images courtesy of Noor Al-Shaikh