The end of the year is a time of reflection. Here, we take a look at top brand searches on Google and top trending YouTube videos in the UAE and Saudi to see what consumers looked for online in 2016. When it comes to search, the lists are telling of what was top of mind for consumers: technology is a big part of our lives (which smartphone should I buy?) and we enjoy escapism (Online shopping? Travel? Sign us up!). As for YouTube, top trending videos ranged from comedy shows to social comedy to Arabic music videos. In short, we go online to find things that make us smile. Enjoy!

Year in Search: MENA 2016

Top Searched Brands: UAE

The UAE is a digital savvy community, with an overwhelming majority of top searched brands falling in the technology category. Namely, smartphones. In addition, the new entrants to the UAE’s entertainment venues were well received. Here are the top searched brands in the UAE in 2016:

Top Searched Brands: Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, there’s a flair for online shopping as some of the top searched brands include international e-commerce sites. Travel is also top of mind as car and airline brands find a spot in this year’s top ten searched brands in the kingdom:

YouTube Trends: MENA 2016

Most Trending YouTube videos of 2016

The time has also come to look at which videos were the most watched and shared in the MENA region. As always, the list is representative of the diversity and creativity of of the region: from comedy shows to social commentary to artists. Collectively these 10 videos have tens of millions of views from creators, with more than 10 million cumulative subscribers.

YouTube has over a billion users - almost one-third of all people on the Internet - and everyday people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. In the Middle East and North Africa, growth in watch time on YouTube has accelerated and is now up over 60% year over year, ranking the region 2nd after the U.S and ahead of Brazil in terms of total watch time.

Here are the top trending videos for 2016, based on views, shares, comments, likes and more:

And here are the top trending music videos for 2016:

What does it take to create videos that really resonate with audiences? Find inspiration from the top ten YouTube creators in the MENA region, who ranked high thanks to a combination of watch time, engagement rates, and popularity of genre:

Happy holidays and have a happy new year from the Think With Google MENA team. Until next year!