Ala Shashaa, Data and Insights Director 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. Although the conversation topics vary from month to month, Electronics and Entertainment remain the top conversation drivers in the GCC during February. Education ranks third, followed by Health, Finance, Automotive, and Malls and Retail. Finally, Telecommunication rounds out the top eight most-discussed topics.
We've compiled a list of the trending stories that shaped the conversations across the three top categories: Electronics, Entertainment, and Education. Going through them will give you an idea of the type of content that resonates with the GCC audience and how you can use it to boost engagement. Let's plunge right in!
Electronics & Technology
Among the main conversation drivers in this category was the World Government Summit, which generated considerable interest in the GCC during February. Technologists shared videos and quotes from experts at the summit discussing their unique take on digital transformation, artificial intelligence, metaverse, and the role of each in shaping the future for upcoming generations in governance and decision-making. While most comments on social media were optimistic about the transformative impact of these technologies on our daily lives, we’ve seen a fair amount of chatter about the need for major reforms from governments around labor laws and bridging the digital divide between countries and generations to ensure that digital transformation and AI strategies are inclusive and accessible for everyone. Others, however, shared a more pessimistic opinion on the same topic, quoting Elon Musk at the summit, saying, “one of the biggest risks to the future of civilization is AI”.
Additionally, as the big tech event took place at the beginning of the month in Riyadh, #LEAP23 maintained dominance for the second consecutive month increasing the volume of online discussions even more. We saw posts featuring interesting insights from speakers about emerging trends in technology and many cool booths showcasing the latest innovation in the industry. We also observed the spike in social media activities after LEAP announced its plans to invest more than $9 billion to support future technology and startups. The news sparked a sense of pride among Saudis, who saw it as proof of their country's forward-thinking approach to technology, solidifying its status as a global hub for innovative opportunities in the tech industry.
Furthermore, the buzz around generative AI is still in full force, with tech companies racing to integrate it into their platforms and cash in on the trend. Throughout the month, we saw multiple announcements fueling the online conversations around the topic. For instance, Microsoft added AI-powered search to Bing, while Google unveiled its own ChatGPT-like chatbot called Bard. Even Snapchat jumped on board with ‘My AI’ for its premium subscribers, becoming the first social platform to integrate ChatGPT into its features portfolio. Tech fanatics in the GCC posted reviews of different AI-based websites such as Scribe, ChatSonic AI, TLDR This, etc., recommending them to their followers. The conversations, however, weren't all sunshine and rainbows. Some users expressed concerns on social media about ChatGPT, including errors in quoting the Quran. This caused a stir in negative sentiments, with Gulf-based tech influencers tweeting to @OpenAI to look into the matter immediately. Until this issue is resolved and the tool is more advanced in terms of accuracy, we should take the results of generative AI with a grain of salt!
Up next: What's hot in Entertainment?
If we don’t talk about Rihanna’s Super Bowl Halftime Show and all the buzz it generated, are we even listening to the online hype? Our Entertainment dashboard was excitedly buzzing over Riri’s return to the stage after a seven-year hiatus. Her epic performance included surprises like her second pregnancy reveal and clever Fenty product placement during the show, which felt authentic and not forced. The internet was excitedly buzzing over her performance, leading to plenty of TikTok trends and memes throughout the month. It's safe to say that everything really "worked worked worked worked" in her favor as she dominated the conversation charts.
The Grammys, Brit Awards, and Golden Globes also made it to the top word cloud, but they weren't exactly showered with positivity. Beyoncé's “Album of the Year”' loss caused quite a stir on social media. Users were sharing videos of Harry Styles being heckled by her audience after winning the “Best Pop Vocal Album” award. Harry’s fans shared footage across the interwebs of Taylor Swift’s dancing during his performance and applauding him for the award. Many comments showed fans’ admiring her unconditional support. Furthermore, Sam Smith’s performance and fashion choices during the events raised eyebrows with users responding with memes. Well, these award shows are always good for drama and entertainment!
February brought national pride to the Gulf's entertainment scene with Kuwait National Day and Saudi Foundation Day trending on social media. Users, celebrities, and brands alike joined in on the celebrations, sharing greetings and showcasing their unique traditions. TikTok and Instagram feeds were flooded with videos of car rallies, proudly displaying the country's flag and cruising through the streets. Fashion and lifestyle influencers got in on the action too, sharing Reels of themselves decked out in traditional national attire. And of course, brands didn't miss a beat, launching promotional campaigns and giveaways that had the online community retweeting and buzzing with excitement. It's clear that these occasions brought everyone together in a wave of national pride and a festive spirit.
Let's switch gears now and talk about Education.
Saudi Arabia has been making waves in different sectors with their impressive advancements, and this month saw two exciting educational initiatives gaining significant attention online. The first is the launch of Amazon Academy in collaboration with MCIT for the first time in the MENA region in Saudi Arabia. The academy will provide training and certifications in cutting-edge sectors like cloud technology, logistics, and retail. The second is Meta's launch of the Metaverse Academy in KSA aimed at accelerating the development of emerging technologies and the economic opportunities that come with them. These exciting ventures are definitely ones to watch!
Another piece of news that boosted the educational conversations in the GCC was about Valentino and the Education Above All Foundation (EAA) teaming up to support education for children in Somalia. They did this by launching a limited-edition collection that was displayed at the Doha Jewellery and Watches Expo (DJWE). This generated a lot of online buzz, as people were excited to see fashion and philanthropy come together for a great cause, emphasizing the importance of supporting education.
Finally, in February, the UAE implemented computer-based exams in public schools, which brought joy to many students and sparked increased online conversations. This change is aimed at modernizing the educational system in the UAE and providing students with a more efficient and user-friendly way to take exams – much to the delight of many students. Say goodbye to the traditional pen-and-paper exams and hello to a bright new future in education!
We've reached the end of our monthly recap, but you can always get a weekly dose of us by subscribing to our exclusive newsletter to keep up with the latest trends.