Month: July 2013

Buzz Report: Top 5 July 14-18, 2013

July 22, 2013

During the week of July 14-18, the political landscape taking shape in Egypt preserved the Politics category as the category attracting the largest volume of discussion on Arabic-language social media. Politics accumulated a total volume of 139,832 comments on various social media platforms, whereas the most debated topic this week emerged from the Religion category.

The top topic in Politics was the news of a large rally organized in Cairo last weekend by supporters of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi. The “Friday of March” protest generated 21,234 posts. Thousands of Morsi supporters gathered in Cairo to demand his reinstatement, and to support the ongoing sit-ins held in public squares in eastern and western Cairo. In social media, scores of users demanded that the peaceful protests be escalated and extended to other Cairo neighborhoods, as well as block vital roads in the capital to block traffic.  Many users attacked the poor coverage of the official Egyptian media for persisting in ignoring the “million-man march” in its news broadcasts. Others slammed the media for publishing false news about the Rabaa Adawiya Mosque sit-in, in which it is claimed that protesters are given money and free Iftar meals to remain protesting there.

A user with the name Abu Yamen commented on YouTube: “The former regime (Mubarak)’s media is dirty enough to insult Syrian women? Then you ask Syrians not to support Morsi who protected their honor and dignity.” Other users called for civil disobedience to pressure authorities to fulfill the protesters’ demands. Tarek Zaki commented on Facebook: “All protesters must start to peacefully pressure the authorities, by one unified action, full civil disobedience in all the cities that would last until Ramadan 10…” The majority of comments relating to this topic were monitored on social media networks, like Facebook, generating 16,573 posts.

PoliticsThe second most debated category was Religion. As the first full week of the holy month of Ramadan approached the end, a number of discussions about religion pushed the category into this spot, where in past months it has been relegated to third or fourth place. The top topic in Religion generated 54,808 comments, prompted by Saudi preacher Mohamed Al Arifi’s use of social media as a platform for his sermons and to disseminate advice on fasting, breaking one’s fast, and medications allowed during the fasting hours. On another note, Arifi has discussed the significance of good manners and prayers, especially during Ramadan. Some social media users thanked the sheikh for his sermons and advice, saying they were helpful to them. A Facebook user, Souad Ouni, posted: “Thank you for all the sermons you give, your eminence Mohamed Al Arifi. May God reward you for them!” On the other hand, some slammed the cleric and described him as a “hypocrite” who changes his views according to the “Sultan’s” desires.  Abu Hussain wrote on Facebook: “Arifi is a cool Sheikh. He is good at traveling from one country to another. Rulers knew how to lure him with money and trips to [entice him to] forget what’s going on in Syria and Egypt.” Meanwhile, some users refuted the attacks against the cleric, and advised him not to heed the “haters’” insults.  User Ad2b2121 commented under a YouTube video of Arifi: “God support you against the mockers and don’t heed the haters!”

ReligionSociety came third with 62,011 comments. The ninth season of the Saudi social/religious TV show Khawater (Thoughts) was the top topic in the Society category last week. It attracted some 18,708 comments on social media platforms. The show is hosted by notable Saudi host Ahmed al-Shuqairy and addresses the Arab nation’s problems. The majority of users praised the show, especially the episode on Syrian refugees in Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.  Aya Ayman reacted to this particular episode, writing on Facebook: “Sorry Syria. Egypt is no longer as it was before. Morsi cared for the Syrians but now they want to figure ways to kick them out.”  Some users were resentful of the Egyptian authorities, who imposed strict visa requirements and security approvals on Syrians desiring to enter Egypt. Many users attacked the Arab Gulf states for supporting the “military coup” in Egypt.

Arts, which has recently held the first or second rank in the past couple of months due to the tremendous popularity of the MBC vocal competition Arab Idol, dropped to the fourth category last week. Only 9,897 comments were generated in the Arts category, interestingly, driven by news about the Arab Idol winner, Palestinian national Mohamed Assaf. Last week, Assaf announced that he had departed his hometown Gaza for his new residence in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Assaf’s fans on the social media were sad to see him leave Palestine, where he held many free concerts for his people. Yet, many users wished him the best of luck in his career.  Farah Bashyr wrote on Facebook: “God grant you happiness and bring you back safely to your family and your country. Congratulations to the 1 million Facebook fans Mohamed. As for the people, who are angry about him going to Dubai, he is building his dream and many Palestinians’ dreams…” Meanwhile, some users said they are eagerly awaiting new songs that he has promised to release after Ramadan. On the other hand, some users attacked Assaf for relocating from Gaza, whose people supported him through his early career and during the Arab Idol competition. Badran Mahmoud commented on Facebook: “Hahahaha. You killed yourselves for him, and in a minute, he sold his home…” But, this criticism drew prompt responses by the singer’s lovers who argued that he moved to Dubai for business not for entertainment.

Top 5 July 14-18Finally, the Education category, which rarely appears as one of the top five discussed categories, came in the fifth position. The category generated 2,969 comments last week. The only topic in Education came from Iraq with discussion about the results of the elementary and high school exams. The subject has attracted many social media users. Scores of users were thrilled by the generally high grades of the country’s students, deeming it as an achievement amid the ongoing tensions in Iraq. Firdos Alsaffar commented on Facebook: “God bless them all! They scored high despite the countries conditions. You’re a source of pride to Iraqis.”  Other users claimed that the noticeably good grades might be an indication that the tests were sold to the students ahead of the examination times. Noor Day wrote on Facebook: “This year, the questions leaked ahead of the tests and all the students bought them.”  Conversely, others denied that any cheating had taken place at Iraqi schools, stressing that students worked hard for their results.

Weekly Top 5: July 7-11, 2013

July 15, 2013

Through the week 7-11 July, the ongoing political developments in Egypt continued to catch the attention of thousands of Arab social media users, pushing Politics again to the top of the list of discussion categories where a total of 206,151 posts were recorded. The top topic this week also appeared in the Politics category drawing 37,599 comments.

The that began following former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s ouster on July 3 continued to generate debate on social media networks: demonstrations in Cairo by thousands of Islamists in front of the Presidential Palace calling for Morsi’s restoration was the most discussed subject of the week generating 37,599 posts. On July 8, Egyptian security forces dispersed a sit-in by Morsi supporters; the clashes that erupted between protesters and troops killed 42 people and wounded another 3,000. Reactions on social media podiums were notably divergent. Some users believed that the “crime” was orchestrated by the once-ruling Muslim Brotherhood, accusing the group of setting plans to destroy the reputation of the Egyptian army.  On Facebook, user Fox Alex, commented: “A terrorist group, you sons of whores with women, children, and old men???? God curse you!” On the other side, some attacked the Egyptian army and the police, holding them fully responsible for the “massacre” outside a military facility.  Other users expressed grief at the bloody scene in Egypt, stressing that all Egyptian blood is sacred, and calling for unity to end the violence. Mo Mony commented under news published in “You’re killing each other, and then claim the army killed you, and then believe each other???? When you hurl stones at the army, do you think they will remain silent???” The majority of comments on this topic appeared on social networks like Facebook with about 21,607 comments, and then on Microblogs like Twitter with about 12,312 posts.

PoliticsAs the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims observe their fast from dawn till dusk, started during this week, Religion emerged as the category attracting the second largest discussion volume, 51,922 comments. Arab social media users interacted with Muslim preachers on social media; many posting inquiries about religion. Some users thanked the preachers for their public outreach efforts, whether in their shows or via social media interactivity. While scores of users inquired about the timings of their shows and the channels airing them, others posted a number of Ramadan-related questions. Many also urged the preachers to pray for the Muslim world and sought their opinions with regards to the political developments occurring in Egypt. Mariam Mohamed commented on Facebook: “What is your say, Amr Bey, to what is happening in Egypt.” Other social media users criticized some views of particular preachers, and others condemned them for appearing in what they described as “corrupted media channels”. In another observation, some slammed the preachers calling them “liars, hypocrites who make money out of religion”. Another Facebook user Abdallah Mahir said: “Don’t sell illusions to the people!!! You’ve invaded territories and raped women under the name of religion.”

ReligionArts category dropped down to third rank during the past week, after leading discussions for nearly among with social media chatter about Arab Idol. Discussions in the art category amounted to only 26,135 posts. The top topic in Arts category emerged from Saudi Arabia where the final season of the online Saudi drama Takki sparked controversy on social media platforms.  As some social media users commended the episode’s manner of direction, others expressed their admiration for the actors’ developing acting skills. On Facebook user Honey and Honey commented: “This is the best episode, all the actors performed well.” However, some criticized the actors’ performances in certain scenes, like jokerrd123  who commented on YouTube: “It’s a good episode, but I didn’t buy it when they fought, they should learn how to do fighting scenes.” Many users said they were anxiously awaiting the release of a new season of the show, asking the producers and actors (Moayed al-Thakfi and Khairiyah Abu Laban) to start filming the second season immediately. Joury al-Ghamry wrote on Facebook: “Amazzzing and waiting for the second season.” The majority of comments appeared on video sharing platforms, like YouTube, with a total of 10,471 posts, followed by posts on Twitter (8, 903 tweets).

The fourth most debated category was Sports.  The classification has generated a sum of 17,556 comments. The top discussed topic was the news about the death of Ibrahim Youssef, a retired Egyptian football player and board member of Cairo’s Zamalek club, following a heart attack. Youssef died at the age of 56.  Many social media users asked God to rest the man in peace and allow him into heaven. Many lamented Youssef’s death for his good manners and politeness. Some others sent their condolences to Youssef’s family and friends. Ramez Ramzy commented on “May he dwell in mercy and may his family and friends be consoled. He was a brilliant football legend.” Some described him as a “blessed” man to die on the first day of Ramadan.  Mustafa al-Jabali wrote on Facebook: “May God have mercy on you Gazelle. On the first day of Ramadan. May you rest in peace and eternal mercy and divine light.” The majority of comments appeared on Facebook, recording a total of 5,994 comments.

Arts. sports, societyThe least debated category last week was Society. The category generated only 16,566 comments last week, and most discussions were related to the social aspects of Ramadan (13,251 comments). Arab social media users exchanged greetings for Ramadan, and several users prayed that God would grant them strength to perform all the obligatory prayers and duties of the month. Some wrote prayers asking God to unite the Muslim nation and bestow his graces on it. Some users complained about the skyrocketing prices of Ramadan goods this year, and many said that they couldn’t afford shopping for Ramadan.  Other spoke of the labors preceding Ramadan’s famous Iftar banquets –where families gather to break their fast. Many mentioned how exhausting is the task of preparing Iftar for a large number of people. On another note, many called upon women to dress “properly” during the month, condemning fathers and brothers who allow their daughters and sisters not to dress conservatively in Ramdan. Omar Alali said on Facebook: “Whether in Ramadan or not, a father or a son who allow their daughter out of the house dressed in such manner is a pig and deserves to be burned! You are ready to anger your Lord to show the world that you’re in vogue?” Many shared the timings of the TV shows of the region’s more famous preachers and the TV drama series that are being aired during the month. Some users asked preachers how best to worship God and make the best use of their time in Ramadan.


These results above are extracted from thousands of social media sources such as blogs, microblogs, forums, message boards, readers’ comment sections on news websites, etc, which are continually updated. A team of Arabic social media researchers and Arabic social media analysts use Arabic Natural Language Processing and data mining tools to analyze the data and to extract the list of top five subjects, based primarily on keyword repetition.

The Weekly Top 5 displays results of the common Sunday-Thursday work week in the Arab world, and is solely focused on Arabic language user-generated results, classified by volume of comments/discussion.

Data is captured primarily from 17 Arab countries in North Africa, the Levant, and the Arab Gulf region, and when relevant, the five other Arabic speaking countries belonging to the Arab League (Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti and Mauritania).

Buzz Report: Weekly Top 5: June 30- July 4, 2013

July 9, 2013

Over the week of June 30-July 5, major political developments in Egypt caught the attention of the majority of social media users, restoring the Politics category to the top rank among the five most discussed categories. Throughout the last week, Politics accumulated a sum of 505,325 comments on several social media platforms. The most discussed topic also emerged from Politics category generating 122,249 posts.

In Egypt, the nation-wide protests meant to oust the Islamist President Mohamed Morsi occupied most of the discussions on various social media podiums on June 30. As millions of Egyptians took to the streets to call for snap presidential elections in massive demonstrations, the topic generated a total of 122, 249 posts on social media. Scores of Egyptians expressed their pride in what was described as the “hugest” protests in Egypt’s history. Many seemed surprised by the massive numbers of protesters who demonstrated against the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. Amira Senedak commented on Facebook: “I am one of the people who joined the protests in Alexandria, and this is the first time I feel I did something I am proud of….it’s time to liberate Egypt from the Brotherhood.” Commenting on police intervention in the protests, several social media users welcomed the corps engagement and wished that Egyptians would enhance the tense relations between citizens and police forces, which have tenuous since the days of fallen president Hosni Mubarak.

The majority of users intensified the calls for protests until Morsi stepped down. Millions urged fellow Egyptians to initiate civil disobedience on July 2.  Another user on Facebook, Noha Abd wrote: “It took you 18 days to oust Mubarak, but will take you 7 years to oust the elected president!” Looking at the reaction of Morsi’s loyalists on social media, several downplayed the number of protesters and described them as mere “supporters of Morsi’s rival Ahmed Shafik.” On another note, many users denounced the violence that marred the protests, which killed and injured 800. Political analyst Amr Hamzawy tweeted: “I condemn violence and killing at the MB headquarters, and at Assuit and Beni Sweif clashes. All Egyptian blood is sacred. Don’t ruin June 30.” The majority of reactions in tandem with this topic appeared on social media networks, like Facebook, making up to 87,951, whereas on Twitter the total number of posts reached only 31,266 comments.POLITICSAs for the second most discussed category on social media, Arts generated a total of 28,253 comments last week. Unlike the weeks of last month, Arts has descended from the first rank to follow Politics. The top topic in Arts was the Arab Idol winner Mohamed Assaf who continued to grip the hearts and minds of thousands of Arab social media users. The Palestinian Assaf left his hometown Gaza and headed to Dubai, UAE, to pursue a career in singing. He landed at Dubai Airport on June 28, and was received by hundreds of fans. Despite the warm welcome in Dubai, Assaf’s departure from Gaza stirred much of debate on social media networks. Although many Emirati users have heartily welcomed Assaf in their country, some Palestinians wished that he had stayed in Gaza instead.  Suhad Layoun said on Facebook: “Assaf forgot that the poor people of Gaza and West Bank supported and voted for him. He fooled the people!” But, Samira Hindawi countered: “He didn’t decide it. He signed contracts with the label. Mohamed will always remain the son of Gaza.” Another Facebook user, Marah Hamad addressed Assaf saying: “I wish you would come and stay in Ramallah, but I understand that there are no recording labels in Palestine. We love you, so do what you like and we support you wherever you go. Good luck!” Many wished the singer good luck, after he had announced on his Facebook page that his journey to Dubai would be the beginning of his career path. The majority of comments with regards to this topic emerged on Facebook, with 14,837 comments.

ARTSReligion came third with 14,423 posts. The Saudi cleric Mohamad Al Arifi once again made the top news in the category as he posted religious and social advice on different social media networks. In one post, which generated a total of 14,423 comments, the preacher paid tribute to a 125-year-old imam, who used to head mass prayers and preach at a mosque. On another note, the sheikh urged his fans to smile at people, even to strangers; and to act humbly and mercifully with the elderly. Social media users reacted differently towards Arifi’s social media engagement. Some didn’t favor the idea of smiling at strangers, arguing that strangers might react aggressively and not smile back.  Ahsas Ghali commented: “In the old times you could smile at strangers, but now people would angrily ask, ‘What are you smiling for’? However, others praised the cleric for his sermons, acknowledging that his advice has been helpful. Souad Ouni posted: “I saw the good manners in you Sheikh Arifi, so I wanted to act in your manner.” Some commended Arifi’s manners, believing that he is a good example of the Muslim values

The Society category is the fourth most debated this week. Discussions in this category generated 9,872 comments, with the most discussed topic emerging from Morocco as the Moroccan authorities closed schools that teach Quran recitation in Marrakech. The schools were ordered closed after their administrations had refused to submit to the Education Ministry supervision. Some social media users harshly attacked the Moroccan government and criticized it for building synagogues while shutting down Quranic schools. Rashid al-Maghraby commented on news published in saying: “Oh dear God Almighty. In a Muslim country, synagogues are being constructed, but Quranic schools are being closed.” In the meantime, some supported the government’s move and demanded to subject all religious schools to government supervision to fend off extremist views, which might in turn harm the growing generations.  Siham Aharri tweeted: “I am against the ministry’s crackdown on the schools, but don’t forget that some people take shelter behind religion and Quran to commit actions that shake the country’s stability.” Some users fully rejected the violent crackdown on the schools, saying that thoughts must be faced by opposing thoughts, not by violence.

The Economy category generated the last amount of commentary, but focused on a subject of importance to Saudi Arabia: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz’s extension of the amnesty period meant to regularize foreign workers in the country to November 3. The topic, the only one in this category, generated some 6,442 comments on social media platforms. Some user thanked the Saudi King and hailed the grace period extension as “merciful” to the expatriates in the country. A user by the name Watani commented on news published in “It’s a good chance for those who couldn’t regularize their stay due to the long queues and a good attack on bribe takers.”  However, other users believed it would have been better to grant foreign workers this extension from the beginning of their stay in the kingdom. Abu Mashaal tweeted: “You should have extended the amnesty from the very beginning and the Labor Ministry should amend some of the new difficult regulations.”