Ala Shashaa, Analytics Manager at the regional digital marketing agency Netizency, shares with Communicate a social recap analyzing the discussions in the GCC’s public sphere and highlighting the most relevant trends.
Every month, Netizency identifies a group of Arabic and English keywords from different industries in the region, classifies them according to the volume of mentions, and analyzes the topics of conversation across all social and online media.
Between the 1st to 30th of September, electronics remained at the front seat of the top discussed categories online in the GCC followed by entertainment and education. Coming after these three are respectively health, finance, automotive, malls and retail, and telecommunication.
Do you want to know why the Electronics conversations skyrocketed in September and what spurred many entertaining and educational discussions? You might want to scroll and read.
For all the Electronics news you can shake a stick at, it was all about Apple this month. The release of the iPhone 14 was met with a chorus of groans and spawned an abundance of memes, even from Steve Jobs’s very own daughter, jokingly comparing the device to its predecessor. The conversations were varied and we might have laughed harder than we should have at all the TikTok videos inspired by the #AppleEvent. The lack of out-of-the-box features for the iPhone 14 stirred a buzz on social media as people assumed that the tech giant had run out of ideas. Samsung has also jumped on the bandwagon, tweeting “let us know it when it folds”. But despite griping about the iPhone 14’s lack of innovation and high price, videos of diehard fans queuing up outside Apple stores to buy the new device went viral. Maybe try again later, Samsung?
GCC techies were also getting creative with their reviews of the device, with some taking it to the extreme of filming unboxing videos of the iPhone 14 Pro underwater to prove how it could survive subaquatic dive.
However, that is not the only reason for the iPhone buzz. It, along with other smartphones, was heavily featured in the electronics conversations during September thanks to Saudi brands who were offering generous giveaways to celebrate the Kingdom’s National Day. Saudis in return were all in a tizzy over these, excitedly engaging for a chance to win.
Artificial intelligence has also made its way to the top conversations this month sparked by #GlobalAISummit, which has kicked off in Riyadh. Among the key topics that shaped the discussions is the ‘Elevate’ program, the fruit of a partnership between Saudi Data, the Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA), and Google Cloud. It focuses on empowering women to practice new jobs in the fields of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Highlights of the program were widely shared, gathering a positive response from users in the Gulf who seemed enthusiastic about the future of women in the field. Videos of the Summit’s guest speakers delivering their thoughts on the latest advancements in AI, its abilities in the context of climate change, and the ethical applications of algorithms have also gained popularity.
Our listening dashboard revealed that we have yet another buzzword that gained momentum toward the end of September; ‘Metaverse’. The hype was all coming from the ‘Dubai Metaverse Assembly’ event, which was held in the corners of Dubai’s Museum of the Future. The event has sparked a flurry of spirited discussions around Dubai’s vision to make itself a hub for this technology, from setting up an embassy there to regulating it and more. The positive sentiments were all over thanks to the theorized results of economic prosperity and more job opportunities. We’ve also seen patriotic comments among UAE users, who felt pride in the country’s futuristic vision and continuously strive toward a better and more advanced tomorrow. Who wouldn’t? The future is now, and it sure looks incredible!
Sometimes more is more, so let’s hop into the second top category, Entertainment.
We had predicted in our previous article that mentions of the KSA National Day would be buzzing across our listening dashboard. And boy, we were right! The 92nd Saudi National Day came and brought with it an abundance of creative content across all social media platforms. Green-themed events, outfits, makeup looks, giveaways, and food recipes were highly trending, marking the occasion. The conversations also spilled over to the neighboring GCC countries, with users posting about one of the most anticipated celebratory moments. The world’s tallest building, UAE’s Burj Khalifa, turned all green with a special LED show that commemorates the bond between the two nations. The most interesting part of it all? Twitter replaced the “Like” emoji with the Saudi flag. This was just one of many trends during the occasion appearing on social media, and unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve already seen them across your feeds too!
Entertainment conversations this month have been sprinkled with sports news. Qatar’s FIFA spin-off promised to leave an unforgettable legacy, football leagues packed the calendars in Europe, and KSA stole the attention of sports aficionados and not-so-hard enthusiasts glued to their adrenaline-packed screens. UAE’s F1 and UFC279 entered the scene alongside. And where else would these fans go to discuss all this but social media? And we've picked it all!
Netflix was part of the trending topics too, with both praise and criticism coming it's way. Starting with the good stuff, the streaming service continued to expand its original content production in the MENA and GCC where it announced its first-ever Kuwaiti series, ‘The Cage’. Netflix MENA has posted about it on social media, and some users expressed excitement, while others were disappointed that the storyline was being Arabized, longing for something more original. But that was not all, the streaming giant has faced backlash from Gulf countries where they issued a joint statement demanding that Netflix removes content that ‘violates Islamic and societal values and principles. This is in light of the recent observation that the platform was broadcasting visual material and content which violated content controls in the GCC, namely, featuring homosexual characters, same-sex kissing, and children portrayed in a sexual light. This decision was well received by the community, who appraised the move and encouraged more strict censorship rules in the region. Others, however, felt that this issue had been long overdue and that they should have done something about it a while ago.
From the hype surrounding its first Augmented Reality short film, ‘Remembering’, Disney+ also had a place in the trending conversations during the month. News outlets were highly sparking discussions and predicting the next move of contenders like Netflix and Amazon as a response to Disney+’s release, and how the new technology will change storytelling and entertainment forever!
Now let’s head into the Education category.
As the Fall semester began and students returned to the classroom, conversations about education were in full swing during September.
The most common themes during the month revolved around a ‘revamp plan’ for Higher Education, where we’ve seen several posts coming from most GCC countries like Qatar, KSA, UAE, and Bahrain that have been rigorously piloting national strategies to approach a sustainable, future-proof ecosystem. Educational bodies went to social media to highlight all the details, igniting positive reactions from parents, students, and teachers.
Additionally, an interesting Saudi project, called ‘Masruf’ took the spotlight across the educational conversations this month, and for a good reason! Masruf connects students and their parents to schools via a system of payments and communication, all through the convenience of a bracelet. Among its benefits is the fact that it facilitates the process of purchase and payment at school canteens in addition to controlling students’ school attendance and more! Didn’t we previously mention that the future has arrived? The online conversations in the Gulf have mirrored students’ excitement about the new wearable device.
Education did capture a heap of interest around competitions. The ‘University Challenge’ that launched in the UAE toward the end of the month did just that. The brainy contest was organized by the UAE University in cooperation with the Sharjah Government Communication Award, with the participation of more than 70 students, generating hype on social media. We’re all for competitions that strengthen the community and support our society!
Let’s end the educational category with a heart-warming story of a nine-year-old Saudi schoolboy who captured the hearts of thousands on social media for his selfless act toward his sisters. We have a hunch you'll love it too! It all started when a father, captivated by the scene, took a photo and shared it on his family WhatsApp group. The photo included his son, Mishal Al Shahrani, carrying two of his sisters’ school bags while they were returning from school in the sweltering hot weather. The photo immediately went viral on social media, garnering the admiration and appraisal of many. Not only did the governor of his city honor Mishal, but so did many brands who jumped on the hype and rewarded the kid and his family with special gifts, such as Damac Football Club, which has made Mishal a member for life, allowing him free entry to every match. Talk about the power of social media and good deeds! But also, kudos to his parents for raising him so well!
Our September recap of the trending social media conversations is over, but you can always check our exclusive weekly newsletter for the latest trends and updates. Until then, stay tuned!