Trends: What MENA watched on YouTube in 2020

Abdel-Rahman Hussein / January 2021

Abdel-Rahman Hussein is Google’s culture expert in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), specialising in local culture and trends on YouTube.

We all adapted and formed new habits in 2020 that will have a lasting impact in 2021 and beyond. Our baking skills got a big upgrade (banana bread, anyone?) and our viewing habits changed dramatically. From homebound Eid celebrations to processing the devastation in Beirut, MENA viewers turned to the online world to seek a sense of togetherness. Our world has forever changed, reflected in all types of new content viewers watched and fresh inspiration coming from creators.

Education for all

Education and edutainment became a massive trend over the past year. A new survey from the Ipsos End of Year Trends report shows 94% of residents in Saudi Arabia and Egypt used online resources to watch or access educational content.

Fitness from home

All that banana bread baking must have had an impact, with a 460% growth in at-home workout videos by MENA viewers seeking to stay fit last year. 1 Trends like these indicate how viewers turned to how-to videos and tutorials to upskill in areas including fitness, wellness, cooking and much more.

Keeping close ties

It’s a telling figure: 97% of residents in Saudi Arabia and Egypt used online resources last year to stay connected with people, according to the Ipsos report.

YouTube content creators found fresh ways to connect with viewers and inspire a sense of community. For example, there was an extravagant gender reveal, ideas for Eid celebrations and fundraisers for Beirut. Another notable moment of connection came during the month-long holy Ramadan, when people came together to set a Guinness world record for the largest online iftar ever.

How to keep up with evolving consumer trends

For marketers, understanding cultural trends behind popular videos on YouTube captures the zeitgeist and provides powerful, real time insight into audience sentiment. An understanding of evolving trends can help brands foster a stronger connection with key audiences. Use free tools like Google Trends to understand real-time search data, including trends specifically on online video, to help brands meet evolving needs.

As we enter a new year and seek to make sense of the world around us, the online world continues to serve as a litmus test for how people feel. One video at a time.

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