“The Hangout with Rushdi” – an exclusive interview with Comedian & Podcast host Rushdi Rafeek

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Dubai based stand-up comedian Rushdi Rafeek launches a dynamic new Podcast Show “The Hangout with Rushdi”, as the name suggests the show is hosted by the enigmatic Rushdi himself and invites people from all walks of life to join him in an entertaining discussion over topics relevant to this region.

The show aims to offer platform to topics and conversations that apart from having a humorous angle, add value to people’s day, encourages them to think from various point of views and perhaps motivate them to change their lives for the better. The “main agenda” of the show would be to leave the listeners feeling good.

The Hangout Team (Left to Right) Bashir Wahid, Nicole Barua, Rushdi Rafeek & Leilani Coughlan

To learn more about this incredible initative, I had a one on one chat with the funniest man in Dubai, Rushdi Rafeek speaks candidly about the show’s aspirations.

Who is Rushdi Rafeek?

Hi, my name is Rushdi and I’m addicted to talking and trying to be funny. I am a qualified chartered accountant and realized that I didn’t want to do that as soon as I completed the extremely hard near impossible course.

For the last 4 years I have been moonlighting as a stand-up comedian and doing other things like writing and improv in an attempt to change careers or even just get into something that jolts me out of bed in the morning. Needless to say debit and credits do not do the trick.

I am extremely talkative and curious as well, rather than read books, obtain knowledge or learn a skill on my own, I prefer to learn with another human being through conversation or trial and error.

A short anecdote to cement this trait of mine, after a course ended on one of the advanced papers of accounting I began regurgitating the knowledge accurately to a handful of classmates around the table. Thus, by default I became the tutor prior to the exam and confidently cleared any doubts or queries to test me. Fast forward to publication of results, everyone passed except yours truly. Everyone rushed towards me to tell me the good news as I cried one manly tear because I didn’t have the heart to confess that I had failed.

When was The Hangout with Rushdi conceptualized?

Inception of the idea was in 2016’ish but the first episode was released Q4 of 2018. I was filled with self-doubt and turned out to be a high quality procrastinator. My team was awesome when it comes to their skillsets and input but no one could break my doubtful mindset. I can happily say I am no longer making up excuses and reasons why not to deliver on our passion project.

I consumed endless radio shows and podcasts from across the globe. Radio shows are tailored to people who are stuck in traffic and listen to “top of the pops” which left me feeling extremely malnourished mentally. Podcasts I found were to be hard to relate to which is why I decided to throw my hat into the ring based on the region I am based in as well as me personally, being extremely curious, talkative and generally funny. Ya, I said it.. so what?

How did people take the news of you starting off a Podcast Show? Tell us about your team.

I have a very small friend circle, they know who they are and how important they are in the grand scheme of things, shout out to having Whatsapp groups.

Three of my biggest contributors are Bashir Wahid, Nicole Barua and Leilani Coughlan.


Bashir Wahid is one of the most talented and underrated musicians in the region. Anything and everything you hear is done by him in relation to production. None of this would be possible without him, at least it would be extremely difficult for me due to know passion and endless knowledge. He creates all the music due to copyright laws and even composes our comedy spoof songs which again, I cannot do alone because all I do is sing like the diva that I am.

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Leilani Coughlan, artist extraordinaire. One of the unsung heros once again for The Hangout With Rushdi as well as my comedy. She brings in a different angle for brainstorming my comedic thoughts, ideas for the show and everything digital. Which means our facebook, Instagram, banners and anything else. Her style is something anybody can easily appreciate and once again its her passion that makes everything work.


Our most recent addition is my lovely co-host Nicole Barua who wears many hats; she is an established Food critic, TV show host, Actor, Fitness guru, Model and now one the most bubbly voices on our Podcast. Her positive energy uplifts the show to another level, she adds her quick wit and her unique prespective to the shows content making it one of a kind in this region.

These three are the TLC that makes me go “Ahhh!” in satisfaction at the end of post-production like drinking a chilled lemonade on a sunny summer day

What’s the main agenda of the show?

I am still finding my footing but as most people know, Im all about laughs and smiles. And this has nothing to do with me being an aspiring comedian, I feel the world has enough trials and tribulations I would love to be part of the world that helps us cope and deal with the tough days.

And apart from the humorous angle, I want to add value to peoples days and perhaps make them think, motivate or even leave them feeling as though they are not the only ones who feel a certain way.

Here we go again, I haven’t found the so called “main agenda” but I would like to leave the listener with feel good vibes.

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Who would be the ideal listener of your show?

Anyone with an open mind and a healthy sense of humour. I try to be a good host by asking the right questions, adding humour and getting the best out of the guest because I believe in the guests I bring on. Either they can better someone’s day with humour or knowledge of one topic or more.

Therefore, if a listener completes an episode they were intrigued by and is left feeling nothing I would feel extremely disappointed. Minimum they should crack a laugh and anything beyond that I consider a victory from my modest view.

What kind of support does The Hangout with Rushdi require?

I pay an extremely nominal fee for production and artwork from my own pocket. Those two factors for me make the show crisp and of a certain quality that is required to keep a listener tuned in and informed about whats going on socials.

If I receive finance or landed a sponsor this only helps us carry out our roles better and perhaps reach a wider audience. The third expense would be marketing which is required in this day and age with so many options to people. And I have no doubt that something so unique and original will gain traction if put in front of an audience.

Better guests open more doors and again possibly increase visibility and may gain higher possibility for sponsorships or financing.

Being part of the arts and performance industry I don’t believe in paying in “exposure”. Mainly due to the emotion being put into the work. People always praise the quality of the outputs that The Hangout produces, the love kicked it off and the nominal payments I make keeps it going. Without a sponsor or finance I cannot gauge how far we can ride this wave, but I am extremely proud of how far we’ve gotten and do not plan to go down without a sincere battle.

Lastly, what’s been the highlight for you since you began hosting?

Apart from connecting people and building relationships with them, I am going to be honest and it’s going to sound extremely cliché but it’s true.

Even though I wish I had a broader reach and people did listen more, if I have 100,000 listens and not one person messaged me about how they enjoyed it and it made a difference it would not make me feel better.

Right now on just our own and through word of mouth, we reach about 800-1000 listens in a week. I have 2 or 3 people come up to me and tell me that they learned something, laughed really hard or just didn’t know other people thought or felt something that we covered. That helps me sleep at night.

Don’t tell me I didn’t say it was cliché!



“The Hangout with Rushdi” has produced 17 episodes, all are available to hear on Apple Podcast and Soundcloud for FREE; the guests on the show have been from various industries such as Banking, Advertising, PR, Teaching, Travelling, Events, and professionals include, Stand-Up Comedians, Film makers, Artists, Actors, Food critiques and more. The show represents the UAE’s unique multicultural influences and discusses the ups and downs of everyday life with a sprinkle of humor.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/the-hangout-819916688

FB: https://www.facebook.com/pg/thehangoutwithrushdi

Insta: @thehangoutwithrushdi

Host: Rushdi Rafeek

Co-Host: Nicole Barua

Editor / Producer: Bashir Wahid

Creative Director: Leilani Coughlan

For Interviews with Rushdi and the team, please email: zareen@w2wevents.com