The Buzz: Libya

March 27, 2011

One week after the United Nations Security Council authorized the use of military force in Libya, a solution to the country’s crisis appears nowhere in sight.

As the Gaddafi regime remains entrenched in the west and the rebels continue to control the east, from Libya’s second city of Benghazi to the Egyptian border, raising the spectre of an impasse and the de facto division of the country.

Experts suggest that a thorough introspection is required at the outset to ensure that the world body’s ‘right to protect’ doctrine and ‘Resolution 1973’ is not crushed with in pursuit of petty personal desires on the part of coalition member states.

This coalition of the willing has been sanctioned for the sole purpose of saving the Libyans from an autocratic regime. But, it seems that the broadness of the resolution, which authorises ‘all necessary means’ to intervene and protect the Libyans is at the heart of the determination to get going.

The major powers in action should mind that the resolution does not specify regime change as an end. Though not many would like to shed a tear for Gaddafi, it goes without saying that making a martyr out of him will come to haunt the prospects of peace and prosperity in the region.

With a no-fly zone in effect, it’s time to get real on the ground in Libya.

SocialEyez brings you a snapshot of how the social media landscape has been bombarded with questions and opinions on how the world should react to the crisis that has engulfed Libya.

It was interesting to find that unlike the revolts in the neighbouring countries that were fuelled by social media networks, the majority of conversations happened on micro-blogging platforms.

Where were the people talking?

SocialEyez found that most of social media activists linked to Libya engaged in active conversations on micro blogs instead of the popular social networks. It was also interesting to know that United States of America was a major contributor on these social media forums.

What were the people talking?

People are talking about the implications of the UN Resolution to allow military action on Gaddafi’s forces operating in Libya, many feel that the current situation in Libya gives US an opportunity to exercise more control in a country that is trying to comprehend the changing face of its society and national identity.

Buzz Highlights – Verbatim

“Can u plz in future refer to the army as Gaddafi army? Because they don’t represent Libya.”

“Gaddafi keeps claiming explosions in #Tripoli r fireworks, I think we should bomb his fireworks storage unit then see what they have 2 say”

“Inshallah we will replace all monuments of #Gaddafi with reminders of those who sacrificed their lives to free Libya.”

“We will never forget the way we are street smart and that’s why Libyans are fighting Gaddafi with no weapons and we are still winning!”

“No ONE man has EVER been able to achieve that in human history. What makes you think Gaddafi controls all wealth in Libya?”

“A team from Doctors Without Borders, left Libya last week as Gaddafi’s forces neared Benghazi, is waiting for a guarantee from all parties”

The Buzz – Mubarak’s Speech

February 3, 2011

Over the last week massive demonstrations have been taking place in Egypt. The protests which began peacefully were calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down from office immediately. After days of protests, Mubarak finally addressed his countrymen in a speech through which he told the people of Egypt that he will not step down until his term is complete in September, but that he will not run in the next election. He also stated that he will not live anywhere but his country, where he intends to die; indicating that he will not stand for being exiled like Tunisian leader Ben Ali.   This speech led protestors to become divided and has resulted in extreme violence in Tahrir Square where the demonstrations are taking place, as well as other parts of the country.

SocialEyez has been monitoring the issue closely. The following report details the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage resulting from Hosni Mubarak’s speech, and its aftermath.  The social media monitoring time frame is from February 1, 2010 to February 3, 2011.

Our research generated a total of 53,577 comments/posts during this time, related to the reactions to Mubarak’s speech. Below is the chart of the daily volume that we captured:

The activity was highest on February 1st; the day of the speech, with approximately 60% of the results being found on this day.  The activity decreased gradually over the next two days, due to interruptions in communication channels.

Socialeyez has categorized the comments into the four main opinions being voiced. This diagram demonstrates the breakdown and a sample comment from each opinion group.

The majority of the results (49%), held the opinion that Mubarak needs to step down immediately, and not in 6 months time. Comments like “Egyptians will not accept this anymore. Mubarak must not leave in September, he must leave now” orMubarak wants to leave with his dignity in September while trampling over the dignity of 80 million people” were found on several social media channels.

Meanwhile, 34% of users held neutral opinions and posted news, or links to sites with more information on the issue.

13% of users felt that the United States and other nations should offer support and aid to the Egyptian people. For example: “Obama must tell Mubarak to immediately resign or lose all US aid.”

Those who felt that Mubarak has the right to finish his term were in the minority at only 4% of the results captured. Comments like “President Mubarak could’ve left Now, But Just to Make Things Clear, He Wants to Leave Egypt When The Egyptians Are Safe. He is an Egyptian & He Will Die an Egyptian!” were less common in the analyzed results.

Where were people talking?

The vast majority of posts were found on Micro-blogs such as Twitter (44%), followed by Other Media Types (31%) these include comments posted below news articles.  Facebook was responsible for 10% of the results. It is important to note that in the majority of the actual conversations took place on Message Boards/Forums, while results found on Micro-blogs and Social Networks were simple statements or links to news articles.

Demographics:

In terms of the age and gender of the users who contributed to the online buzz, the majority (45%) was male, and 62% were under the age of 35. This shows that youth are playing a major role in actively expressing their opinions on the issue. Below is a word cloud of terms which were related most to the topic:


It is evident from these results that users across Egypt have strong opinions on what is happening across the country.

By: Dennis Frieß & Raghad Tayeh

The Buzz- Tablet PC’s

January 27, 2011

The Buzz – Tablets!

 The tablet PC has taken the world by storm, filling in the gap between a traditional personal computer and a laptop PC. Designed as an audio-visual media platform, which enables easy, comfortable internet browsing, the tablet has been adjusted and reinvented by almost every giant in the world of electronics.  Apple was of course the first to launch their iPad, followed by, HTC, Motorola, HP and even BlackBerry, who created their own spin on the tablet.

Socialeyez was curious to see if there were any discussions around the tablets happening here in the Arab world. We decided to gauge the buzz on the tablet PCs by Apple (iPad), Samsung (Galaxy Tab), Motorola (Xoom) and BlackBerry (Playbook) in the last week here in the Middle East and North Africa region.

We hoped to see which is the most popular and what topics Arab users are discussing in relation to these hot new gadgets. The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on social media coverage regarding the Tablet PCs.

Many discussions were found online regarding the topic in both English and Arabic, although Arabic results were significantly higher  with over 65% of results being in Arabic. From this we can draw the conclusion that Arab users feel more comfortable discussing their electronic devices in the Arabic language on different social media platforms.

In total 1,069 results were captured over the seven day period January 17-24, 2011. A sample of 10% of the total data was used to give insight on the buzz.

We chose to graph the results for all the brands in one graph, in order to easily compare the results over the week. The iPad had the highest number of results by far (910), leaving the rest of the brands to fall very far behind. Motorola came in second, with 130 results over the span of the week, followed by Samsung, with 45 results and lastly, BlackBerry with only 19 results.

The vast majority of posts were found on ‘Micro-blogs’ such as Twitter (57%), followed by ‘Other Media Types’ (19%), which refers to comments posted below news articles, and ‘Message Boards/Forums’ (18%). So, although Twitter is a popular means of sharing information with others about electronic devices, many Arab users utilize popular electronics forums and leave comments below articles of interest in relation to tablet PCs.

According to our system, online conversations most frequently occurred in Egypt or by Egyptian users, with 52% of the share of coverage. The United Arab Emirates followed with 23% of conversations. This is a clear indication that Egyptian users have significant impact, in terms of social media in the Arab Region.

How did people feel?

Sentiment distribution in regards to each of the brands is illustrated in the graph below:

In general, if the question posed was: “How do you feel about the iPad/Xoom/Tab/Playbook?”, the Motorola had the highest amount of positive responses (51%).  Meanwhile the iPad had the highest amount of negative feedback (39%). It is important to note however, the iPad has been in the market the longest and has also accumulated the highest amount of results in general.

Nonetheless, we should also point out, according to our findings, users in the Arab region are very optimistic about the Motorola Xoom.

Most of the results captured were neutral in sentiment and simply shared news about any one of the devices.

What were people saying?

There was a wide variety of comments to be found. Many people had questions about the devices, some had problems that they wanted help with in regards to the products and some simply wanted to share information with others on social media platforms. The following is a variety of comments found by Socialeyez surrounding the tablets:

Many users chose to compare devices on social media platforms:

“RIM: PlayBook battery life will be ‘equal or greater than the iPad with smaller battery size’ http://t.co/9N0Nrs3 via @engadget”

“Damn guys! Can’t carry a blackberry, Iphone & Ipad all at the same time.. Maybe I’ll get the new ipad..???”

“Plying classical music on my ipad. This thing can do wonders. Can’t wait for the @blackberry playbook tho!!”

“Having handled an iPad it would be a bit too big and heavy for me as a commuter device. The kindle sized galaxy tab is much friendlier.”

Some discussed issues that they had with their devices:

“I am using Galaxy Tab and am facing some problem. I could successfully install and activate the software….. post which the software is not working.”

And, many used social media as a way of sharing information and links:

“Mobile Holy Quran for iPad لقراءة القرآن الكريم من الآيباد …: Mobile Holy Quran for iPad لقراءة القرآن الكريم … http://bit.ly/ebUWhj

“Motorola’s First Android Tablet to Retail for $800 [REPORT] – http://on.mash.to/f6VUvv

The Buzz – Tunisia

January 20, 2011

On December 17, 2010 a young street vendor in Tunisia, named Mohammed Bouazizi stood in front of a government building, doused himself in gasoline, and lit himself ablaze.

Bouazizi was a university graduate, who was unemployed due to the poor economic conditions in his country. In an attempt to support his family in any way possible, he began to sell fruits and vegetables in a cart on the side of the road in the city of Sidibouzid. However, when the police officials took away his cart, claiming that he did not have an appropriate permit, he decided to protest in this extreme way.

Bouazizi survived his self immolation for approximately 18 days, and eventually, he succumbed to the burns that covered over 90 percent of his body. On January 5th, 2011, he died and became a national hero to many in Tunisia.

After his passing, people began to protest the injustice in their country and a revolution of sorts arose. Eventually the ruler of the country, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali left office, after over two decades of dictatorship. Many users claim that this was the result of the domino effect which began with the actions of Bouazizi.

Many people felt that social media had a big hand in sparking the revolution and keeping it alive. It is important to note that Bouazizi left a final status update dedicated to his mother on Facebook before his death. Twitter was also consumed with tweets regarding the topic, and below is the last status update that Bouazizi made, and posted on Facebook:

Translation: “I will be traveling my mom, forgive me. Reproach is not helpful. I am lost in my way it is not in my hands, forgive me if disobeyed words of my mom. Blame our times and do not blame me. I am going and not coming back, look I did not cry and tears did not fall from my eyes. Reproach is not helpful in time of treachery in the land of people. I am sick and not in my mind all what happened, I am traveling and I am asking who leads the travel to forget.”

SocialEyez decided to gauge the buzz around this issue.

The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage regarding the Tunisian revolution and the man that sparked it: Mohammed Bouazizi. SocialEyez ran a search within the date range of December 17, 2010, and January 17, 2011.

Methodology

In order to monitor the buzz regarding the topic, Socialeyez used unlimited number of keywords related to Bouazizi and searched all social media platforms for mentions of them.

However, in relation to the Tunisian revolution, we selected a sample of only 3 hashtags, in order to illustrate the buzz on Twitter alone. These were: #tunisia, #revolution and Tunisia, and #jasminrevolt. (note: the Jasmin revolt, is a name given to the Tunisian revolution because the national flower of Tunisia is the Jasmin)

Our Findings

Based on our research, a total of 5,316 comments/posts were found within the date range of December 17, 2010, and January 17, 2011 related to the name Mohammed Bouazizi. Below is the chart of the daily volume:

The highest buzz volume was captured on the day of his death (January 5th), and another peak on the date of the resignation of the President (January 14th). This goes to show that many people attributed the resignation of the President to Bouazizi, and related the two incidents. A significant drop in volume was noted on the day of his self immolation, it was not until his death and the beginning of the riots that people began to truly talk about Bouazizi on social media platforms.

After collecting the results, we categorized the comments as positive, negative or neutral, in relation to the question “Was Mohammed Bouazizi a hero/martyr?”

The majority of results (60%) were neutral, users shared the news of a man setting himself on fire, or links to news pages. However, 37% of the results were positive, and users felt that Bouazizi was indeed a national hero, and a martyr. Some sample comments with this sentiment are listed below:

“RT @AymanM: Rest In Peace Mohamed Bouazizi: the man who may have single handedly brought change to the Arab World. #tunisia #arabfreedom”

“RIP Mohamed Bouazizi, some might disagree but i think he is a martyr #sidibouzid #tunisia”

“@mishari26 This is Tunisia and we -the people- decide who our martyrs are, not your fatwas. M. Bouazizi acted heroically #sidibouzid”

“Mohamed Bouazizi is not only a marytr but a legend in the region. Historical figure that will always be remembered for a long time.”

“RT @monaeltahawy: Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, of #Sidibouzi, who sparked #Tunisia popular uprising, has died. RIP. His legacy lives on among thousands he inspired.”

On the other hand, a minority of users (3%) felt that what Bouazizi did was actually negative:

“ I’m sure if he had that much passion over something he could have accomplished so much more if he was alive years from now, working for a cause. That kind of protest only triggers more anger and violence, and there is no need for that or someone killing themselves or another person. I’ve had enough time to think about this shit having been in the military, and why I left. We can idolize a guy who burns himself to death but I feel that the adoration is misdirected and it’s only a result of a confused and unfocused rage.”

“I think this protest is just like any other. People want to speak up and change things. Governments don’t like change in countries such as this one. I envy people that speak their minds to the government and stand up for what they think is right for not only themselves, but for the rest of their country. As for the fact that people, like Mohamed Bouazizi, have tried killing themselves and succeed with the attempt, I do not think that is very smart. If you want change, you have to go through with your first decision. Especially with something so drastic. Although, there is a chance of being killed by the government, there is also that chance that, if you make the right moves, you can make a change in the country, or even the world.”

The following graph shows the daily volume on Twitter for the hashtags that we used. A total of 223,419 results were found within our date range.

There are definite points in time, over the one month period which we monitored, where the volume of results peaked. The first of these peaks occurs on January 10th, which is the date when riots began on Tunisian streets. The second peak occurs on the 14th of January when news of the resignation of Tunisia’s leader had become public. Below are some tweets found on peak days:

“Why must there always be riots before people can reach something? Which use have politicians actually?”

“Philosopher’s Tree: Tunisia: Demonstrations Reveal Corruption, Media Restrictions”

Below you can see a map overlay of the location in which results were found. Many results were captured from the Middle East region, but results were also captured from Europe, North and South America, and other parts of the world.

When we broke down the results into top countries of Origin, users from the United States generated the highest percentage of results, but this was due to the fact that Twitter and Facebook are both based in the United States, and unless an account states the origin of the user, then it would be attributed to the U.S.  France came in second place, possible because of the dominant French influence on Tunisian society, and the fact that French sites are often read and accessed by many people in Tunisia.

Amongst countries in the Arab region, Egypt, Jordan, KSA, the UAE and of course, Tunisia were all amongst the top 25 countries. Authorities in Egypt, KSA and UAE have also voiced concerns about the ripple effect this may cause in their own countries.

Of all the buzz reports we have compiled, this report had the highest volume of results, which goes to show that social media is indeed playing a key part in publicizing the revolution and keeping it alive.

Many people around the Arab world have imitated the actions of Bouazizi, and since his self immolation, men in Egypt, Algeria, and Mauritania have all proceeded to set themselves on fire in hopes of fostering change in their countries. For this reason, monitoring and understanding the trends which have developed over social media platforms has been important, and has contributed immense insight into the situation.

Raghad Tayeh & Yannick Dischinger
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez

The Buzz – #Gaza2

January 13, 2011

On December 27, 2008, Israel launched “Operation Cast Lead”, with a surprise air strike on the Gaza strip, formally beginning the Gaza War. Israel began the operation in response to Hamas’ “Operation Oil Stain” rocket fire, and an armed conflict with Hamas would commence for three weeks taking place in Gaza, and Southern Israel.

The war ultimately ended with both sides calling for cease fires after 1,300 Palestinian, and 13 Israeli lives were lost.

The high number of Palestinian deaths caused critics to accuse Israel of committing a massacre, while Israelis claimed that Hamas used civilians as human shields, making it difficult for them to avoid killing them.

On December 27, 2010, an online campaign was launched to commemorate the two year anniversary of the conflict by Gaza sympathizers and supporters. The aim of the campaign was to remind people of those who lost their lives, and to show support for their cause.  According to the campaigners, the basic principle was:

– On Twitter, post/repost all the tweets concerning Gaza with the #Gaza2 hashtag. It can be links, news, facts, personal statements.

– On Facebook, same principle. Post and repost the links you can find on Gaza. The aim, again, is to raise awareness.

[http://siegebreak.wordpress.com/2010/12/19/gaza2-campaign/]

SocialEyez decided to gauge the buzz around this topic and measure the success of the campaign. The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage regarding the Gaza 2 Campaign.

The volume distribution of the results over the time period within the date range

According to our results, a total of 14,590 comments/posts were found within the date range of December 27, 2010, and January 8, 2010. The majority of results (73%) were found on December 27th, which was the first day of the campaign. Results then declined day by day, and the lowest number of results was found on the January 8, which was the last day of our search.

The high volume of results indicates a definite success on behalf of those who started the campaign. People from all over the world participated, and dedicated their statuses and tweets to the Gaza 2 initiative.

Below you can see a map overlay of the location in which results were found. Many results were captured from the Middle East region, but results were also captured from Europe, the Americas, and other parts of the world. When we broke down the results into countries of Origin, the United States was on top, but this was due to the fact that Twitter is based in the United States, and unless an account states the origin of the user, then it would be attributed to the U.S.

The map overlay gives an idea of the wide array of places where comments and discussions were found

When it came to breaking down the results into social media platforms, Twitter dominated, with over 97% of the results being found on the micro blog. Social networks followed, and few results were captured on other mediums of social media, most likely since the campaign was aimed at Twitter users in specific.

The distribution of the total volume into the various social media types

Since the campaign was so successful on Twitter, we were able to find that the campaign had branched out into a group of supporters, found on:

http://www.twibes.com/group/Gaza2-Campaigners

There were a total of 99 members in the “twibe”, and the description stated that they were a “Twitter list of people using #Gaza2”.

Many of those who chose to participate on Twitter, tweeted the names of people who were killed in the war, as a way of remembering them.

Using our software, we were able to track the users who shared the highest number of comments and tweets. These were the key influencers of the campaign, and the driving force which kept the campaign alive. Many of these users simply re-tweeted a large number tweets that were written by others. This helped to continue spreading the word. Below is a list of the top 10 users, the number of tweets they each shared which carried the Gaza 2 hash tag, and a sample tweet for each user:

Although the campaign has died down drastically, some users are still keeping it alive, and posting tweets and comments. Below is a link for a real time feed of mentions of #Gaza2 on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/#!/search/%23Gaza2

Raghad Tayeh & Yannick Dischinger
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez

The Buzz – Emirates ID

December 30, 2010

After many announcements about the new Emirates ID cards becoming mandatory for all residents of the UAE over the past year, many people simply brushed off the requirement to a later time. The ID cards would contain personal data including the address, photo, date of birth, and fingerprints of each resident, and would be used as official identification throughout the country. When it seemed many were not taking the issues too seriously, the Emirates Identity Authority (EIDA) issued various warnings that people without ID cards would not be allowed to access certain government services and could face significant fines. Not too long after the issuing of the warnings, the deadline for obtaining the ID cards was pushed back due to the last minute rush causing crowding at the EIDA typing centers, and long queues. Under the new timeline, Emiratis have been given until June 30, 2011 to register, which is a six-month extension, while expatriate workers can register whenever they renew or apply for a residency visa. According to the agency, more than 1.5m residents registered for cards in 2010. With heavy coverage from local news on the Emirates ID issue, Socialeyez decided to gauge the buzz around this topic. The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage regarding the Emirates ID cards.

The volume distribution of the results over the time period within the date range

Many discussions were found online regarding the topic; however, results were almost exclusively in English. 578 results were captured in total over the period of November 15, 2010-December 29, 2010. The whole of the data was used to give insight on the buzz. The volume of results was highest on the 26th of December, which was one day after the announcement of the extension was made.

The link to the announcement, issued December 25th on the EIDA website is provided: (http://www.emiratesid.ae/en/news-updates/news/identity-card-registration-deadline-for-nationals-extended-for-six-months-and-registration-of.aspx).

The volume in the days leading up to the extension was also high, and it seems people had been discussing the topic and the fast approaching deadline. There was also a clear peak of volume on the 22nd of December, which was one day after Abu Dhabi announced that it would adopt ID cards in all transactions for individuals.

Link provided: (http://www.emiratesid.ae/en/news-updates/news/abu-dhabi-distribution-co-adopts-id-card-in-all-transactions-for-individuals.aspx)

Where were people talking?

The distribution of volume amongst various outlets of social media

The vast majority of posts were found on Micro-blogs such as Twitter (41.6%), followed by Social Networks, which also had a significant percentage of results (32.6%), and include sites such as Facebook. It is important to note that in the majority of the actual conversations took place on Message Boards/Forums, while results found on Micro-blogs and Social Networks were simple statements or links to news articles.

According to our system, online conversations generally occurred in the United States and the United Arab Emirates. However, it is essential to remember that our system tracks results and attributes a country to a result based on a mention of a location in the profile or the comment of the user, and if not found, our system then attributes the result to the host server of the website, which for many popular websites (such as Facebook, and Twitter) is the United States. This is the reason that the United States shows up as one of the countries with the highest volume of results.

How did people feel?

Sentiment distribution in regards to Emirates ID

In general, if the question posed was: “How do you feel about the Emirates ID process?”, 69% of the discussions were neutral in nature, with people reposting links of news articles and asking others questions about the deadline, procedure, etc. Aside from the neutral sentiment, negative sentiment was the next most frequent acquiring 27% of the total volume. Only 4% of the sentiment was positive.

What were people saying?

There was an array of various types of comments to be found. Many people had questions about the process, and posted comments in order to find some clarification on the issue surrounding the ID:

“How do you change your appointment? The number they gave me in my day-late SMS doesn’t work.”

“Does anyone know the quickest way to get this done ?”

“They said that it’s a must to have the emirates ID.card…or else well be fined at the airport when I come back! How true?”
“Any update on Emirates ID Card..31 Dec is the final deadline?? Pls share Guys if you have any info..heard we have to Pay fine after 31Dec..Pls confirm if any one has info about it..Thanks,”

However, many used various social media outlets to vent about their frustration regarding the long queues, the requirement to leave passports behind and other complications:

“3 hours in queue for emirates id and counting. I wanna hurt someone so bad.”
“UGGHHH… you have to leave your passport???”
“At the Emirates ID office, not seen this many angry ladies in one place before.”
“gggrrrrrrrr….fed up of this emirates id…always changing rules…..gggrrrr…….”
“huhh!!! I’ve been queing here today at 6am (immigration)for emirates id but still not yet finish grrrrr….sleepy,dizzy and hungry.”

There were also many complaints about the fees that need to be paid in order to process the Emirates ID cards, and misinformation about how much the process actually costs:

“@Mahmoud_ @omarulhaq Emirates ID is a scam. They’ve pushed the “deadline” countless times. I refuse to let them con me out of 200 dhs!”
“670 dirhams??? WOW… Going to see if I can just skid by without that”

“Yup… a rip off BUT you will end up paying unless you luv waiting for hours and hours. They will ask money for everything since we don’t pay taxes here. This is the reality for newbies like me!!! Does it mean that is sucks to me ? Pretty much HAHA. For you it is fine..you did not have to go through this. The UAE ID Card saga costs 470 Dhs and I hope it is one time deal. If you decide to renew your visa I hope they keep the same number otherwise it will suck. Sorry for using “suck” but it really does S*ck.”

Finally, some people simply resulted to using their statuses to celebrate the extension, or share with friends the fact that they have finally completed the long process:

“Great news to all in UAE deadline for Emirates ID extended up to 30 June 2011 ……,”
“Just finished applying for our Emirates ID card… It’s like joining the Amazing Race and finishing as the Ultimate Survivor Philippines…”
“yipeeeeeeeeeeeeee………….i got ma “EMIRATES ID”

The Buzz – $US 11 Million Christmas Tree

December 23, 2010

On December 16th 2010, The Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi announced the unveiling of a $US 11 Million Christmas tree, adorned with pearls, rubies, gold and other precious gems, in the form of jewelry and extravagant ornaments. The tree would be the most expensive in the world, and has since been nominated to reach the Guinness Book of World Records.  The tree, however, stirred negative backlash from people around the globe for being overly lavish and for disregarding the true spirit of Christmas.  Not too long after, the hotel issued an apology for its lack of consideration and stressed that the jewelry actually belonged to jewelers Style Gallery, and was simply borrowed.

This week, Socialeyez has decided to gauge the buzz around this topic. The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage regarding the now infamous Christmas tree.

The distribution of total volume over the days within the date range

Many discussions were found online regarding the topic in both English and Arabic, although English results were significantly higher. 5,417 results were captured in total over the seven day period of December 15-21, 2010. A sample of 10% of the total data was used to give insight on the buzz. The volume of results was highest on the 16th of December, which was the day that the announcement was made. The volume since then decreased day by day, but spiked again when the apology was issued on the 19th of December.

Where were people talking?

The distribution of the total volume into the various social media types

The vast majority of posts were found on Microblogs such as Twitter (50%), Followed by Other Media Types, which also had a significant percentage of results (15%), and mainly included comments on news stories and coverage about the tree. However, it is important to note that the majority of the actual conversations took place under the comment sections of news articles, while results found on Microblogs and Social Networks were shared links to articles or YouTube videos.

Online conversations generally occurred globally with the majority of dialogue happening in the US (79%). However, it is essential to remember that our system tracks results and attributes a country to a result based on a mention of a location in the profile or the comment of the user, and if not found, our system then attributes the result to the host server of the website, which for many popular websites (such as Facebook, and Twitter) is the United States.  This may in turn skew the results. The United Arab Emirates had the second highest amount of results.

What were people saying?

Before the apology was issued, most people had very distinctive opinions on the topic and were completely against the Christmas tree, citing that it was a waste of money and an obvious attempt at showing off by the hotel:

Sentiment of the captured comments

“Most expensive Christmas tree in the world, this is sickening.”

“This is shameful in the eyes of God. an idiot owner of a hotel made a Christmas tree valued at 11 million. how sad when in our planet are more than 11 million people are dying of starvation. exactly 1 in 6 people. what can i say? just :humanity is the worst.”

“RT @CamBrownJax: An $11 million Christmas tree in Abu Dhabi. So obscene I want to puke. http://bit.ly/gIP55k

“I’m completely disgusted- “Behold the $11M Christmas Tree”: http://t.co/IpiAzFq via @Curbed”

Many people also had negative sentiment concerning the tree in regards to the region stating that it was against Islamic beliefs and that it simply emphasized stereotypes about the region:

“Agreed.”@iDubaiGuy: I wonder if #Zayed would have approved of the record breaking Christmas tree in the heart of Abu Dhabi.”

“The most expensively decorated Christmas tree happens to be in a Muslim country. Fascinating… Abu Dhabi erects $11 Million Christmas tree. A tree which is covered in 181 pieces jewelery and precious stones. SubhanAllah, what more can be Muslims deprived of”

“I wonder how this fits in with Zakat, the 4th of the 5 pillars of Islamic faith?”

Few had positive sentiment and felt that the tree was beautiful and was a sign of tolerance of other religions in the predominantly Muslim UAE:

“i would want a $11 million dollar christmas tree 🙂 http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/ml_emirates_11m_christmas_tree

“This is why I should consider migrating to Abu Dhabi. 11 millions dollar Christmas Tree – http://bit.ly/fph3lf

“Dubai got largest Christmas tree and AbuDhabi got the most expensive. All this in favor of our brothers and sisters who celebrate Christmas.”

“Beautiful XMas Tree! 🙂 RT @Jerusalem_Post In Abu Dhabi, Christmas comes decked with gold: The $11 million symbol of… http://bit.ly/hsG7xM

Many simply posted links to news articles, youtube videos and photos of the tree, and remained neutral in regards to personal opinion:

“The world expensivest #Christmas Tree ever! What? $11M, is it made of gold?…Apparently, yes. http://yhoo.it/gM0IZz

“@SultanAlQassemi: See pic: Abu Dhabi unveils $11 million Christmas tree http://bit.ly/eCPXwU

However, after the hotel apologized for the extravagant tree and explained its position, some rushed to the defense of the hotel:

“I am getting tired of everyone appologizing for something they did (good or bad) just because some one whines about it. The hotel put up a cool Christmas tree. Now they are backing away from it because they may loose a nickle from someone who just wants to be controlling of other people’s actions. Same goes for sports stars and polititians who have sex or ogle hot women. Just say wow she’s hot and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Yet, some still criticized the hotel, by pointing out that it is obvious that a decision to put up such a tree would be regrettable:

“An Abu Dhabi hotel spent 11 million dollars on a Christmas Tree. They now regret their overload. Ya Think??????”

Raghad Tayeh & Yannick Dischinger
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez

The Buzz – Qatar 2022

December 14, 2010

On December 2nd 2010, Qatar was announced as the official host of the 2022 FIFA World Cup; beating out the United States, Australia, Japan and South Korea. The decision by the members of the FIFA executive committee made headlines around the world and sparked debate in many online communities in recent days. The small Gulf nation made history by being the first Arab nation to ever be selected as a World Cup host, as well as the smallest nation to win the privilege.  Not too late after the announcement, theories about bribes being given by Qatar to FIFA officials began to arise, and comments by influential figures such as Barack Obama created a significant buzz.

The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage surrounding the topic.

Many discussions were found online regarding the topic in both English and Arabic, although English results were significantly higher. 96,140 results were caputured in total over the six day period of December 1- 6, 2010. A sample of 10 % of the total data was used to give insight regarding the buzz. The volume of results was highest on the 2nd of December, which was the day that the announcement was made. The volume since then has decreased day by day.

The distribution of total volume over the days within the date range

Where were people talking?

The distribution of the total volume into the various social media types

The vast majority of posts were found on Microblogs such as Twitter (53.1%), followed by Social Networks such as Facebook (17.4%), and Message Boards/ Forums (17.3%). However, it is important to note that most conversations took place on Message Boards and Forums, while results found on Microblogs and Social Networks were shared links to articles or YouTube videos (like the presentation of the stadiums or the different bid videos) or short comments on FIFA’s decision without much discussion.

Online conversations generally occurred globally with the majority of dialogue happening in the US. However, it is essential to remember that our system tracks results attributes a country to a result based on a mention of a location in the profile or the comment of the user, and if not found, our system then attributes the result to the host server of the website, which for many popular websites (such as Facebook, and Twitter) is the United States.  This may in turn skew the results.

The UK came in second, and Egypt had the third highest number of results (4,216). The UAE was another Arab nation which generated a high number of results, coming in 6th place, and even the small state of Qatar itself generated enough buzz to be listed on 9th place.

The map overlay gives an idea of the wide array of places where comments and discussions were found

What were people saying?

Many people had very distinctive opinions on the topic. Several users made status updates to congratulate Qatar, while many just posted links to news stories about the announcement.  On the other hand, there was also a lot of speculation regarding FIFA’s choice, and many people had questions about restrictions that would be taking place regarding alcohol, homosexuality, and the entrance of Jews into the country. Many users were also afraid of terror threats, while many were worried about the weather. Those from countries which lost out to Qatar posted comments about why they should have been chosen:

“FIFA’s universal goal is growing the world game….yeah right, its more like deepening the pockets of its organisation. Football used to be about the passion and culture of the game and not the advertising, media and the growth of the football brand as a business . I hope that 2022 Qatar is an EPIC FAILURE, then they would realise they made a huge mistake not choosing Australia !!”

“Whoa whoa whoa. ok how did qatar get picked over the united states for hosting fifa 2022 i dont think they even have a soccer tema and their country is smaller then the state of connecticut where are they gonna fit the venues. Really angry about this”

“RT @franklanguage: RT @rationalists: The Qatar World Cup is going to be the best ever, unless you’re a woman, homosexual, drinker, or allergic to sand”

Sentiment of the captured comments

In general, if the question posed was: “Was the choice to have Qatar host the 2022 World Cup a correct one?”, 43% of the discussions were neutral in nature, with people reposting links of news articles and simply stating facts extracted from leading news websites. Aside from the neutral sentiment, negative sentiment was the next most frequent acquiring 36% of the total volume. Many users criticized FIFA and Qatar as a nation:

“My mom who knows nothing about sports and hates them says it was dumb giving the World Cup to Qatar. She says they will blow everybody up.”

“Qatar………really? Have fun having the world cup in the middle of a desert and in 50 degrees, disgraceful…..”

“RT @WAtoday: World Cup pay-off? Reports Argentina received $80.5 million from Qatar http://bit.ly/fCZvPf #WC2022”

The least in volume was definitely the positive sentiment with only 21%. From this, we can conclude that many people are skeptical of Qatar as the 2022 World Cup host.

Sentiment of the captured comments by language

However, it was remarkable that most of the Arabic comments were positive, people were just happy for the first Arab nation to host the World cup. The few negative Arabic results we found had concerns about the temporary legalization of alcohol and acceptance of homosexuals. So, almost all the negative comments were given by English speaking users.

“I know a US world cup would be awesome, but these stadiums in Qatar look insane? Is this place even real!”

“RT @PeninsulaQatar: #Qatar hosting World Cup in 2022 is victory for all Arabs, says Sheikha Mozah http://bit.ly/go1UPH #worldcup2022”

All in all, Qatar has much to prove to the world. Many people feel that Qatar was an unjustified choice, and that in respect to the location and size of the country, it will be difficult for them to put together a good World Cup.  None the less, neighboring Arab nations show a lot of support and wish the best for Qatar. Only time will tell if the decision to allow Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA games was a good one.

>> Click here to download the Buzz Report Dashboard (pdf) <<

Raghad Tayeh & Yannick Dischinger
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez

The Buzz – Wikileaks on Saudi Arabia

December 1, 2010

The newest Wikileaks revelations which disclose messages from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia urging the United States to launch an attack against Iran has become a popular topic, almost overnight.  Secret US diplomatic cables acquired by Wikileaks reveal that leaders of Arab nations have been urging the US to take whatever steps are deemed necessary in order to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program. One specific controversial statement which was released, quotes King Abdullah saying that it is necessary to “cut off the head of the snake”, in reference to Iran.

The following is a report detailing the results of an extensive search on the social media coverage surrounding the topic.

Many discussions were found online regarding the topic in both English and Arabic, although English results were significantly more. 14,089 results were collected but a sample of approximately 10 % of the total data was used to give insight regarding the buzz. The search conducted was inclusive of posts within the date range of 27 November until 30 November 2010. The volume of results was the highest on the 29th of November, a day after most major news associations, had published the details on Wikileaks. The volume since then has decreased significantly.

The distribution of total volume over the days within the date range.

Where were people saying?

The vast majority of posts were found on microblogs such as Twitter (53%), followed by Media Types- Other (18%), which include comments made on news articles.

The distribution of the total volume into the various social media types.

Discussions generally occurred globally with the majority of dialogue happening in the US. The following map overlay gives an idea of the wide array of places where comments and discussions were found.

The various countries where results were located.

What were people saying?

Many people had very distinctive opinions on the subject; however a common and recurring idea that was found in many posts was a conspiracy theory of sorts, regarding the true origin of the Wikileaks.

“It has become obvious that the goal of Wikileaks is to spread hatred and animosity between Arabs and Iran. There is no report mentioned that has any effect on the US. Wikileaks is just an American creation to play with people’s minds.”

“I smell the American CIA behind these documents. What proves this is that nature of the news and the documents that are being spread, although it might not be lies, but it is for sure that the American CIA is framing someone to reach their own goals. Here we find the request of King Abdullah to attack Iran because America wants to ruin the relations between King Abdullah and Iran. King Abdullah has always been attentive to the stability of the region and he knows the consequences of the US attacking Iran. And in the documents that were previously spread related to Iraq, they also wanted to ruin the reputation of President Maliki in order to stop his re-election.”

The distribution of the total volume into the various social media types.

In general, if the question posed was: “Was the Saudi king right in making requests for the annexation of Iran?”, 60% of the discussions were neutral in nature, people were reposting links of news articles and simply stating facts extracted from leading news websites. Aside from the neutral sentiment, negative sentiment was the next most frequent acquiring 30% of the total volume. Many people criticized the Saudi government for not taking action for things themselves and instead asking the US to do what they want.

“If Iran is such a threat to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Countries how come Saudi Arabia doesn’t take it upon itself to destroy Iranian Nuke facilities instead of asking America to do it for them?”

The least in volume was definitely the positive sentiment with only 10%. From this, we can conclude that not many people agree with King Abdullah’s comments or his stance regarding the Iran issue.

All in all, the discussions are continuing and people have their own theories and opinions. The online community worldwide is interested in the Wikileaks scandal and has used the methods of social media to share and debate their opinions.

Dennis Friess & Raghad Tayeh
Social Media Analysts @ SocialEyez

Fadl Al Tarzi on Alhurra TV

November 21, 2010

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/alhurra#p/c/B2F503236EBF7D0F/0/8KaDLzuij2Y]

Our managing partner at SocialEyez, Fadl Al Tarzi, discussing the social media in the Middle East and North Africa on Alhurra TV (featuring Statists, Numbers, Figures, Expectations & Monitoring)

>> Watch the Interview on YouTube <<

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