Zain Masri is Google MENA’s brand and reputation marketing with insights for marketers based on what MENA searched for last year
Google’s Year in Search lists for the Arab world highlighted that despite the pandemic, a passion for learning, hobbies and interests, whether sports or art, played a vital role in people’s lives as they continued to show great resilience and adaptability.
The annual lists include the top trending search queries with the highest spike over a sustained period in 2020 compared to 2019. They include top trending searches for the MENA region and are generated by looking at trillions of aggregated and anonymized searches.
So, what were the top trending topics and events that caught people’s attention across the region beyond the pandemic? For marketers looking to build campaigns based on user trends, keeping a finger on the pulse with tools like Google Trends can yield simple, yet powerful insights. Let’s take a look at the list organised in alphabetical order of the countries:
Interest in High School National Diploma Results or “Thanawya Amma (نتيجة ثانوية عامة)” grew by ~30% in 2020 compared to 2019 and results ranked second in Egypt as the interest in education continued despite the challenges faced by teachers and students. “E-Library” was also among the top trending queries in Egypt as more and more people adapted to remote learning. People in Egypt were also interested in global events such as the “US Elections” and football matches particularly the “Egyptian Football League”. On the entertainment front, “Al Ekhtiyar” and “El Brins” were amongst the top searched queries.
Education continued to be an integral to people in Iraq with the top trending list including the results of “Sixth preparatory class 2020” and “Newton Platform”, which reached an all-time high in 2020. People in Iraq were also interested in the “US Elections”, and football matches especially the “Spanish League (La Liga)” which also reached its highest-ever search interest peak. Movie fans searched for the movie “Teer Enta'' and some people played “Al Marid Al Azraq (or the Blue Genie)” to stay entertained.
The e-learning platform “Darsak” was the top trending query in Jordan, followed by “COVID-19”. There was also interest in local services and developments with searches for the “Results of parliamentary elections 2020”, “Social Security” (which reached an all-time high in 2020), “Bread Subsidies” (which increased by 30% compared to 2019), and “Lubna Koshiya” all made the top ten lists. That said, people in Jordan continued to watch their favourite series with “Al Haybah - Al Rad” and “El Brins” both making it to the top ten list.
The local situation had a notable presence in Lebanon’s top trending queries. People in Lebanon searched for “Dollar exchange rate today” (which reached its highest-ever search interest peak), “Beirut Explosion”, “Riad Salamé”, “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act”. Despite the local challenges, people in Lebanon continued to pursue their interests following international events such as the “US Elections”, “The Premier League” and “NBA”, while fans of TV series searched for “Al Haybah - Al Rad” and “Al Bahar Al Aswad”.
Learning platforms like “Al Telmith TICE”, “Tawjihi” (interest in which grew by 7X since 2016), and “KoolSkools” were among the top trending lists in Morocco. Football was also very popular with the matches between “Spezia vs Juventus”, and “Alaves vs Barcelona” ranking in the top trending queries as well.
People in Palestine were most interested in educational and political events such as the “US Elections”, the “Deal of the Century” and “Tawjihi Results”. They also kept up to date with the “Spanish League” and fans of TV series were most interested in “Al Haybah - Al Rad”, “El Brins” and “Anta Etroq Babi”.
The elections and sports featured heavily in Qatar’s top trending queries for 2020. The “US Presidential Elections” and “Bihar Elections” in India (which peaked during January and November 2020) and the “Indian Premier League”, “Champions League” and “NBA” all made it to the top ten.
Saudi Arabia’s e-learning platform “Madrasti” was the most trending search query across Saudi Arabia, in fact it reached an all-time search interest high in 2020. However, a love of sports was evident in Saudi Arabia with the “Cricket World Cup match between India and New Zealand”, the “Saudi Football League” table and “Sports” all making it to the top ten trending queries across the country. The “US Elections” and “President Trump” also featured in the list.
Sports and elections attracted the interests of UAE residents. The “US Election 2020” and “Bihar Elections” ranked second and seventh respectively in the top trending queries for 2020. There was also an interest in international sporting events with the “Indian Premier League”, “Champions League” (grew by 2x compared to 2019) and “NBA” ranking third, eighth, and tenth respectively on the list.