Category: Monitoring

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.”

Buzz Report: Weekly Top 5: June 23-27, 2013

June 30, 2013

During the week of June 23-27, social media talk of the outcome of MBC’s Arab Idol vocal competition was contagious. When the Palestinian contestant Mohamed Assaf was crowned as this year’s Arab Idol, the topic generated to 278,989 comments, pushing the Arts category to the head of discussion categories this week for the fourth week running. The Arts category generated a total of 432,849 posts, followed by Politics which counted 219,532 comments.

Assaf was declared the winner of Arab Idol on June 22, excelling over Egyptian competitor Ahmed Gamal and Syrian Farah Youssef. On social media, reactions poured into various platforms, where thousands of users congratulated Assaf and the Palestinians for his triumph. Turning an eye to Egyptian social media users, several expressed disappointment about their compatriot’s defeat, but hailed the Egyptian finalist for his talent and called upon him to continue developing his musical career. Nada, a Facebook user, said: “Don’t be sad dear son of Egypt. You are a Superstar to all Egyptians.”

On another note, some social media users expressed doubts about the integrity of the competition’s voting results, claiming that Gamal had actually won but that votes had been forged for the sake of Assaf, due to the intervention and support of some politicians. Confused Angel wrote on Facebook: “All this, suddenly? He won all the awards; he became a goodwill ambassador for Palestine by audience votes? It’s a fake show, full of cheats!” Some Islamist users across the Arab world mocked the enthusiasm of Palestinians, noting that Assaf had not freed Palestine from Israeli occupation by winning the competition and therefore was not deserving of the outpouring of social and political attention. Some ultra-conservative social media users asked God to lead Assaf to a “repentance” similar to that of Lebanese singer Fadl Shaker, who joined the Salafist movement to engage in jihad. It was also observed that some users denounced the excessive devotion to the popular singing competition amid the escalating political developments in some Arab countries. Dalal Artemi commented on Facebook: “A woman is being raped in Syria, another dies of hunger in Somalia, a third has become a widow in Palestine…yet Arabs are worried about Arab Idol results!”

ARTSPolitics came second. On the evening of June 26, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi addressed the nation in a lengthy public speech listing his achievements on the occasion of his first anniversary of ruling Egypt. On June 30, opposition groups plan massive anti-regime protests targeting his ouster. The top topic in Politics has drawn a total of 30,405 comments, in which social media users have commonly criticized the length of Morsi’s speech and the weak language he has used in a supposedly important speech. Khaled Ahmed wrote on Facebook: “Mubarak won half the people’s sympathy in 10 minutes, but in a 2.5 hour speech, Morsi made the people sympathize with Mubarak!!! Hahahaha God curses you, stupid.” Some users criticized the passivity of Morsi, who said he is aware of all the problems affecting ordinary Egyptian citizens. Many were irritated that the president publicly criticized his opponents and rivals, especially when he mentioned the former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik.  It was also clear that several users had attacked Morsi for his criticism of Egyptian media professionals and business tycoons. Assem Nada wrote on Facebook: “I feel ashamed that you’re my president, Morsi. I never expected that you would grow more stupid every day. You have humiliated us before the whole world and made of Egypt a weak country, ridiculed by the world.”

POLITICSNews about the Arab Idol winner Mohammed Assaf also pushed the Society category to the third rank with a total of 35,874 posts. Assaf’s return to his native Gaza through the Rafah crossing border was the top topic in Society category. The talk generated 14,525 comments. As Assaf reached home on June 25, thousands of Palestinians gathered at the border to welcome the new star, holding banners and carrying his pictures. The Palestinian Youth and Culture Ministry announced a red carpet reception for Assaf, but hasn’t set the date for it yet. The majority of social media users expressed happiness and enthusiasm towards Assaf, wishing him the best of luck. Hamoud Siam said on Facebook: “The sweetest Assaf. God bless and protect him. This is the first time that our people have something to make us proud.” On the other hand, Islamist users disagreed with the exaggerated celebrations for the new Arab Idol. Some criticized his fans, who took to the streets en masse to welcome him home, describing them as “shallow” and “featherheads”. Another group of users said they were thrilled by Assaf’s success, not only because he deserves the title, but because he managed to bring Arabs together after long years of sorrow. Youssef Abou Hussein said on Facebook: “Assaf sings to unite the Arab nations. This is the son of Palestine who dedicated his victory to the Arab nations, thanks Mohamed Assaf, we needed this happiness after long years of grief.”

For the first time in months, Education category appeared as the fourth most-debated category on social media with 11,344 posts. In Morocco, the results of the General Secondary Stage exams of the year 2013 have been highly debated on social media platforms. Users generated 10,189 comments on the topic alone. Nearly 38% of the Moroccan high school students passed the baccalaureate exams. Some social media users wrote prayers on social media, hoping that all high school students would pass the tests. Scores of comments were critical of the education system in Morocco, with hundreds slamming the Ministry of Education for providing students with poor curricula and failing teaching methodologies. Daronnemok tweeted: “Congratulations to all the students who passed the baccalaureate tests. But don’t forget that it is a stupid evaluation to a stupid curriculum that doesn’t appraise your own skills.” Some other users lamented that many students overestimate their secondary school exam results. A Twitter user with the name of HWa9e3 said: “Some people are more worried about the high school tests than Judgment Day. They have poor faith in God.”

Media category was the least discussed category last week. Only 7,034 comments were generated in this category. The top topic in Media emerged from Saudi Arabia, when the tenth episode of the Saudi podcast Ashkal was broadcast on YouTube and attracted social media discussions, generating 5,468 comments, the lion’s share of volume in the media category. The episode explored a series of social and political events that recently influenced Saudi society; with highlights on tourism in the Kingdom and Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal’s wealth. Some social media users were delighted by the program’s bravery in displaying Saudi social problems in the series. Ibn Hairan al-Ghatfany commented on the episode’s YouTube clip: “It’s a wonderful episode. And brave too!” Khaleel Sunba agreed with him on Facebook. He wrote: “I hope Al Waleed doesn’t watch this episode and see how you make fun of him. He could shut your channel down.” Other reactions on social media opposed the extent to which the episode criticizes Saudi society, arguing that the content of the clips might eventually incite Saudis to protest against the regime.


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 16-20, 2013

June 23, 2013

Throughout the workweek of June 16-20, buzz about the pan-Arab vocal contest Arab Idol continued to dominate social media discussion in the Arab world, with a volume of 230,211. The volume again made the Arts category the most prominent discussion category. This was followed by Politics with a total volume of 115,948.

The elimination of the Lebanese contestant Ziad Khoury from Arab Idol 2 was the most discussed topic in Arts category last week. Social media users, across several Arab countries, generated a sum of 178,627 comments on this development in the competition. Users expressed disappointment towards Khoury’s elimination and wished him a bright future in his career path. Other than that, thousands of comments were related to the statements of the Emirati judge Ahlam, who warned Syrian contestant Farah Youssef that she was being arrogant. Users disagreed with this assessment of the competitor’s behavior and expressed their support for her. Another large bunch of comments were dedicated to support the Palestinian contestant Mohamed Assaf and the Egyptian competitor Ahmed Jamal. On Facebook, Sundus Al-sabbagh wrote: “I assure you the Arab Idol is Mohammed Assaf.” But maha asho, commenting on YouTube, described Jamal as having “a very kind voice and full of feeling, it is a shame if he does not win. Please, Arabs, vote for him.” The majority of comments captured in this topic stemmed from social networks, generating 167,342 comments, followed by some 5,988 comments left on microblogs.

ARTSOn June 15, social media talk of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi announcing the “definitive” severing of relations with Syria placed the Politics category in the second rank among the five most-debated discussions. It generated 23,033 comments. In his latest public speech, addressing millions of Egyptians, Morsi said the country had decided “to definitively break off relations with the current regime in Syria, to close that regime’s embassy in Cairo and to recall Egypt’s charge d’affaires” from the Syrian capital, Damascus. As he spoke from a Cairo stadium, thousands of opponents believed that the conference entitled “Support for Syria” was intended to threaten the protesters and organizers of the planned June 30 protests against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi’s regime on his first anniversary of assuming presidential powers in Egypt. Several users condemned Morsi and his handling of regional developments. Some denounced the sectarianism in his speech which was critical of the Shiite sect of Islam, and said this criticism was merely intended to win the support of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafists ahead of the protests. Others accused Morsi of acquiescing to the US administration, since the speech followed the US announcement that it would begin supplying arms the Syrian rebels. “When a corrupted regime uses the revolution in Syria as a means to promote itself, this regime has hit rock bottom,” wrote Waleed Badawy on Facebook.  Another opponent agreed. Mohammed Abdelaziz said: “[Morsi] just wants to please the US which has decided to support the Syrian opposition.” However, a pro-regime user, Osha Koky, hailed Morsi: “God be with you Dr. Morsi. We wanted for long to have a real man as a president of whom we can be proud.” However, most sentiment expressed towards Egypt’s first post-revolution president was generally negative.

POLITICSMeanwhile, Egypt’s qualification for the final round of the African Cup following its defeat of Mozambique made Sports the third ranked discussion category. This development in the sports world generated 13,427 posts. However, some users were dissatisfied with the Egypt’s performance in the game against Mozambique, while expressed concern that the team might be defeated in the second round. Al Naser Salah Eldein wrote on Facebook: “With this level of performance, we will not qualify.” Other users criticized the Egyptian team’s American coach Bob Bradley, claiming he is not competent enough to lead the team to victory. Other users commended the Egyptian player Mohammed Abu Traika, and others denounced his performance. However, criticism of the team’s performance and coach was not enough to stifle Egyptians’ generally positive view of their national team.

In the Religion category, leading Saudi cleric Sheikh Mohamed al-Arifi’s call for jihad in Syria also created a substantial buzz on social media platforms, generating some 22,360 comments.  Reactions to his calls varied. Some commended the call for jihad and expressed their support for it, arguing that jihad is the only way to retrieve the Islamic nation’s glories. Aiman Siraj alorabi commented under news published on CNN’s Arabic website: “Announcing jihad is the right way towards Muslims’ glory and victory.” However, other users censured Al-Arifi for urging jihad during a sermon he delivered in Egypt. ShadI Alessy said on Facebook: “He is announcing this from Egypt because in Saudi Arabia he cannot say such a thing.” Some users believed that while making his statements, the Saudi sheikh disregarded the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has strong ties with the US. Nazir Maklad commented on Facebook saying: “He is a liar; his country is under US occupation.”

SPORTS, RELIGIONFinally, the Society category came last. The category has not generated more than 30,833 comments in total. The top discussed topic in the Society classification was news that the popular Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled had resumed his work despite a recent illness. The topic has made a total number of 15,937 comments. This is the second week that news about Khaled makes the top discussed topic in the society category. Khaled was infected with a rare virus that forced to hospital and refrain from any activities. In the past week, Khaled addressed his fans on social media to remind them that he trusts in God and that he is confident that God decides the best. Some users expressed their concern about his health and asked for updates about his health. On the preacher’s popular Facebook page, Saly Mohammad Farouq addressed the page administer, urging him/her to assure fans and followers of Khaled’s heath. Many other comments showed users praying for his recovering and praising his personality and doctrine. On Facebook, Yasser Khairy addressed him saying: “Dr. Amr Khaled, may God save you for this nation, Islam and Egypt because you are a unique personality.”


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 9-13, 2013

June 17, 2013

In the week 9-13 June, the live on-air vocal competition Arab Idol persisted as the most-discussed topic in the Arts category for the second consecutive week in June. Meanwhile, discussions of Arab Idol pushed the Arts to the top spot among other discussion categories this week, generating 196,026 comments. Politics was second with 121,886 posts.

As it entered its semi-final stages, Arab Idol continued to lure thousands of Arab social media users into a discussion of the competition. The majority of discussion focused on the elimination of the Iraqi Kurdish contester Parwas Hussein – who had been a source of controversy due to her decision to sing in Kurdish – and Moroccan competitor Salma Rachid drew 123,529 comments on social media. Many users expressed their resentment towards Rachid’s elimination, and others accused the judges – two of whom are Lebanese – Ragheb Alam and Nancy Ajram – of favoring Lebanese contestant Ziad Khoury.  Monia tweeted: “Ziad doesn’t deserve to stay. It’s a pity that Salma is leaving. Her voice is very powerful and sweet.” It was clear that the sentiment towards Rachid, despite her elimination, tended to be positive; towards Hussein, less so. Most comments appeared on social networks, though a few were generated on video sharing platforms. On the other hand, some users were glad to see Hussein’s exit, and that Syrian competitor Farah Youssef had entered into the semi-final phase. Sura Sura commented on Facebook: “It’s good that Parwas left! She should have been eliminated earlier…but Salma has a wonderful voice.” For the second week in a row, the second most discussed topic in the Arts category also emerged from Arab Idol. Users left 41,332 comments related to the Palestinian contester Mohamed Assaf and his high possibility of winning the competition.

ARTSDiscussions in Politics made up the second largest bulk of user activity last week. The category accumulated a total volume of 121,886 comments with news about the deadly clashes in Libya, generating the highest buzz. On June 8, clashes in the Libyan city of Benghazi between Libyan protesters and Libyan Shield Forces (LSF) troops killed 27 people and wounded dozens more. Many social media users criticized protesters for attacking LSF headquarters and accused the supporters of federation in Libya’s eastern provinces of inciting the clashes.  They are the brothers commented: “Look around you and you will find the Muslim Brothers behind every disaster happening in Libya. They are Saboteurs who are living with the 7th century mentality. Kick them out. They are the reason for the crisis, for what happens in Benghazi and in any part of Libya.” Users say the protesters want to destroy all forces that resist their secession plans. In the meantime, some fully support the “peaceful Benghazi protesters” who requested the dissolution of the militia coalition that “serves foreign agendas and known interests inside the country and abroad”. Many users lamented the dead and injured among both parties, and denounced the killings for the sake of minor personal gains. Muhammad Abushofa said on Twitter: “Oh dear God. People are killed on both sides. Who will support the families of those killed???” Meanwhile, social media users generally have taken a negative view of Libyan Army Chief Youssef al-Mangoush and the Muslim Brotherhood.

PoliticsDiscussions in the Society category generated 55,316 comments. News about Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled suffering a heart attack generated 24,001 comments. Thousands of social media users were deeply saddened by Khaled’s critical health condition, which required his transfer to hospital for recovery. While many users wished the popular and influential preacher a speedy recovery, others hailed Khaled as a model for a good Muslim and a moderate preacher. Eman El-Shahawi commented on the news on Facebook saying: “Speedy recovery Dr. Amr. May God bless you!” Khaled tweeted to his audience saying: “One tour at a hospital makes you say ‘Thank God.’” Despite his illness, many users said still await Khaled’s upcoming show Story of Andalusia which is scheduled to air in Ramadan. Others expressed their admiration of the newly introduced animation technique in his online Smile of Hope program. Mohammed Jouhri commented on one of Khaled’s videos on Youtube: “I like the animation that will attract children to follow you!”

Sports appeared in the fourth rank with only 46,631 comments. As Egypt humbled Zimbabwe 4-2 in 2014 World Cup qualifiers, social media users praised American coach Bob Bradley for his patience during the political crisis, which struck Egyptian football. Many users robustly defended Bradley against critics and commended him for leading the team to victory in all the qualifiers they played.  Mustafa Rifaee said on Facebook: “We are a strange nation. The man had patience and tolerated us, and all the country’s problems… we won on a foreign land, when in the past we couldn’t win the qualifiers…”

Users, however, attacked Egyptian defender Mahmoud Fathallah and blamed him for Zimbabwe’s score of two goals in the Egyptian net. Scores of users praised goalkeeper Sherif Ikrami for heartily defending the net against several potential goals. Some Islamist users praised Islamist-leaning player Mohamed Abu Trika, and used his name to defend President Mohamed Morsi. Ramadan Mohamed said on Facebook: “When Abu Trika, Hadi Khashaba, Mohamed Hommus, and Alaa Sadek and all the other respectable sportsmen support Morsi, you must know that Morsi is right.”

Religion was the least active category on social media platforms last week. Discussions of the influential and vocal Saudi cleric Mohammed Al Arifi led the discussions in this category, generating some 17,12 comments when he asked his Facebook followers to prepare for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan (starting July 10) by fasting in the preceding month of Shabaan. On his Facebook page, Arifi promised to give his fans the same attention he devotes to his Twitter followers. Some users praised Arifi for his sermons and inspirational sayings on his social media platforms. Siham Sahouma said on Facebook: “We love you too, Sheikh. We want you to honor us and come to Morocco.” On another note, Sheikh Arifi had also thanked the Physicians Across Continents (PAC) organization for their support of Syria. Some Bashar al-Assad supporters and Alawite Shiites attacked Arifi, who is an ardent opponent of Shias and enthusiastic supporter of the Free Syrian Army. Some users attacked the ultra-conservative Wahabi movement to which Arifi belongs and declared the cleric and other Wahabis to be disbelievers.

society, sportsMethodology

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: May 26-30, 2013

June 2, 2013

As the week of May 26-30 drew to a close, the Arts category crowned the five most trending discussion categories on Arabic-language social media platforms, as Arab social media users thrilled over last weekend’s episode of the Arab Idol 2 vocal competition. The Arts category generated a total of 205,547 posts, followed by discussions in Politics which accumulated 103,344 comments.

In discussions of Arab Idol, news of the elimination of Iraqi contestant Mohanad Marsoomy drove the buzz. A total of 110,589 comments were dedicated to this topic alone; more than half the volume. Thousands of social media users attacked the Emirati judge Ahlam for shouting out her desire for a meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Her outburst caused a wave of hilarity in the Arab Idol studio, and on social media, many users speculated that the Emirati pop star was probably drunk or had been using drugs ahead of the show. On Facebook, user Mariam Kitchen said Ahlam was “wasted”. Meanwhile, other users, especially those from Iraq, commented on the departure of Marsoomy and wished him well in his career path. Many believed that the Kurdish Parwas Hussein, also from Iraq, should have been eliminated instead.  Karam wrote on Twitter: “Mohanad is the best and it’s a shame that he left the competition. He is the best representative of Iraq. I am confident that he will have a better and fruitful career…”  Most of the comments generated about Arab Idol’s last episode appeared on social networks, with a total volume of 94,520 comments. An additional 12,609 posts were generated on video-sharing websites. Overall, analysis revealed that a negative sentiment has built against the Emirati judge Ahlam.

ArtsAs for Politics, the top topic was news about Saudi preacher and Islamic Scholar Mohamed Al-Arifi denying illness rumors, before firing tweets at Hezbollah Chief Hassan Nasrallah over Hezbollah’s interference in Syria. Arifi, a popular Saudi preacher, accused Nasrallah of suppressing the Syrian revolution and expected Iran to assassinate him once he has fulfilled his role in the Arab region. Arifi, a Sunni, is an ardent critic of Shiite doctrine, which he regards as corrupt. On social media, some Shiite users attacked Arifi and defended Nasrallah.  Reem Ghonaim wrote on Facebook: “You shouldn’t speak about Nasrallah like that! You and your likes have been exposed. You promote for prostitution and mass killing in the name of God. God curse you all.”  Others hailed the Syrian revolution. Speaking of his illness, Arifi denied reports made by an Egyptian TV channel that he was sick. The cleric said he was in good condition. Many users wished him good health. Walid Dabousi said on Facebook: “I was about to tour Riyadh’s hospitals to find you and check on your health sir. May God grant you with good health dear Sheikh Mohamed.” A total number of 17,382 comments were posted on microblogs alone, and another 7,765 comments appeared on social networks.

PoliticsThe Society category, which generated the third highest volume of discussion, was topped by user talk of a shared video in Saudi Arabia that showed a Saudi government employee attacking, with a belt, expatriates in the country waiting to have their official documents processed. The employee reportedly was responsible for issuing residence visas and other relevant documents for foreigners in Jeddah. In the video, he suddenly asks the people queuing up to leave the waiting area.  Scores of social media users were bothered by the employeer’s absurd behavior. Abu Zaid al-Shankeety tweeted: “This scumbeg must be punished for what he did.” Others defended the clerk, arguing that the clerk’s reaction was likely prompted by the people’s “disorganized behavior”. Too Oppressed commented in a website: “He only did that because of their barbaric behavior. It’s good that he did what he had to do.” The topic generated a number of 7,040 comments, mostly captured after the shared video. An additional 2,253 comments were found on Twitter as users debated the topic.

The fourth leading category was Religion. Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled’s invitation to use the new format of his widely-known A Smile of Hope program climbed to the top of religious topics. In all, discussions in the Religion category amassed 31,813 posts. Discussions on Khaled’s news generated well over half the volume; 16,315 comments. Many users commended the use of animation in the show’s last episode, and expressed hope that this would attract a wider segment of children and younger audiences. Addressing his fans on Facebook, Khaled wrote: “Here is the promo video of ‘Lemon Vendor’- the second episode of the animated version of A Smile of Hope. Watch it next Thursday at 7 PM.”

However, a picture of Khaled with his wife and two sons on a beach generated the most commentary. The preacher captioned the picture, “Thank God for putting my family together”. Many users praised Khaled’s family and wish them the best of luck. Other apparently more conservative users criticized Khaled’s wife for wearing only a headscarf, saying that the proper Islamic dress code for women is a full face veil. UmOmar al-Minawy commented on the picture: “Forgive me, but you are a preacher and a role model. How come your wife doesn’t wear the Islamic cloak and Niqab?” Other comments were about users’ prayers and plans to correctly practice rituals in the coming holy month of Ramadan, which begins this year in July.

Arts, Politics, Society, ReligionSports  was the least discussed category on social media platforms, with only one topic and generating a total of 26,974 comments. Discussions focused on news that the German football club Bayern Munich had emerged as the five-time winners of the Champions League after humbling their national rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1. Hundreds of Arab social media users hailed the match and praised the performance of both teams.  Some other users lauded Bayern player Arjen Robben who scored the winning goal in the last five minutes of the match. Essam Al Chawal tweetedi: “Bayern are champions. To beat the Arsenal is huge. To win the UEFA you are huge. To crush Barca, you are giants. To win Champions League, you are heroes.” Many admired the entirety of the Champions League.  Ibrahim Elbargathi wrote on Facebook: “The best Champions League final I’ve ever watched since 1999.” Other users accused the referee of favoring Bayern Munich against Dortmund. Majdi Abdallah Mohammed wrote on Facebook: “The referee gave Bayern the title. If he kicked Ribéry and Dante out of the game, we would have seen different results.”


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: May 19-23, 2013

May 26, 2013

For the third consecutive week in May, social media platforms continued to be animated by discussions of politics and the pan-Arab vocal competition, Arab Idol as a top discussed topic.

During the May 19-23 work week, the Politics category generated a total of 130,437 posts, driven in large part by news in Egypt about the recent return of seven soldiers kidnapped in Sinai. On May 22, President Mohamed Morsi and a number of senior officials have welcomed the soldiers at a Cairo air base. Thousands of users expressed bitterness at the obfuscation of the details of the abducted soldiers’ release. Scores considered the government’s tight-lipped approach an insult to Egyptians in general, while others contended that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had had their hands involved in the story.

Following the news of the soldiers’ release published in an Egyptian newspaper, user Mohamed Hesham commented: “It is a military secret, so you shouldn’t reveal details about how the soldiers were freed because you have long been partners to the terrorist groups. You use them to frighten the people off.” Other users questioned the fate of the other Egyptian officers, who were kidnapped from Sinai two weeks ago. Facebook user Bassem Taha asked: “What about the officers who have been missing for two years? Where are they? Or were those kidnapped for real?”

PoliticsThe Arts category came second this week with a slightly less percentage. As competition on Arab Idol intensifies each week as the pool of contestants shrinks, the topic captured the attention of some 112,137 users. The last episodes aired on May 17 and 18 have stirred controversy on social media platforms. User comments show that voting has become more “national”, with Palestinian users supporting Palestinian vocalist Mohamed Assaf and the Kurds of Iraq throwing their weight behind Parwas Hussein.  Many users slammed the Emirati judge Ahlam for supporting Saudi competitor Fares al-Madani before he was eliminated from the show.  Sharbel Hanno wrote on Facebook: “Ahlam is a perfect racist judge. She must be eliminated from the show because she doesn’t fit in it. Farah performed supremely well.” Egyptians were observed voting for their country’s Ahmed Gamal, while Syrians appeared to also support Farah Youssef. User Sandy tweeted: “Hopefully Ahmed Gamal will win the Arab Idol 2 title.”

ArtThe Sports category came third. The Spanish Atlético Madrid celebration of its 2-1 victory over Real Madrid in the latest football game was the top topic in this category, generating up to 32,328 posts. The team, which won the Copa del Rey Cup, for the tenth time pushed thousands of users, especially from the Arab world, to condemn Real Madrid coach José Mourinho for failing to score any titles for the Spanish football giants. Many requested his dismissal from the club. Facebook user Sameer Shdid wrote: “He fell into their trap. They knew how to provoke him. Congratulations. Mourinho made us lose the game…” Zico General agreed, commenting on Facebook: “He is supposed to pay a fine and not judge football games any more. FIFA must confiscate his whistle and prevent him from stepping foot in the play field.” Supporters of both teams engaged in heated debate on the results of the match.  Thanks to the Spanish matches, the sports category was pushed up to the third ranks this week, after being the least discussed last week.

Meanwhile, the Society category amassed 23, 582 posts. The top topic was an update about the Islamic preacher Amr Khaled congratulating Egyptians on the kidnapped soldiers’ release.  Khaled has offered his congratulations to the families of the kidnapped soldiers and to Egyptians in general following the news of the release of the soldiers. Many comments seen on social media concerning this topic appeared cheerful.  However, posts made by mainly Syrian users have expressed sadness over the passive reactions of Arab countries towards the massacre in Syria.

Osama Alhajjeh addressed Khaled and wrote on Facebook: “Mr Amr, what about the Syrian blood? Isn’t it precious to you? I no longer believe in clerics, you are all loudspeakers for your rulers…”  Some user were surprised that Khaled extended his thanks to the Egyptian Armed Forces without mentioning President Mohamed Morsi at all. In another post, Khaled prayed that God let him and his followers live through the coming holy month of Ramadan. The latest A Smile of Hope episode addresses the issue of loyalty, through a true story from Algeria. A user from Algeria commented on YouTube after Khaled’s clip saying, “…Thank you Dr. Amr Khaled. I do miss my country Algeria, and I dream of it every day. I hope to return to Algeria soon and kiss its sand…”

sports, society, religionDiscussions in the Religion category also crept into the Top 5 again this week. The topic most discussed was Saudi journalist Mohamed al-Sheikh’s argument that some Hadith verses were unauthentic.  Some 18,420 users discussed the journalist’s comments refuting the legitimacy of verses that call for using camel urine and fly wings as cure for illnesses. Shaikh’s comments sparked a harsh wave of criticism and dismissals by Saudi clerics. However, reactions on social media platforms were diverse.  Some users denied the journalist any right to question the authenticity of Hadith credited to Prophet Mohammad in the books of Bokary and Moselm; others contended that he had been brave to openly question part of the Hadith. Tweep Abdullah al-Asmary said: “Many people do not believe Prophet Mohammad ever said those things, because they are illogical and unnatural, but they never speak up because they are afraid of the stupid mobs.” Some other users believed the journalist triggered the debate merely to seek attention. “Believe me, he is after fame,” Cu1l commented on a news website.

Buzz Report: Weekly Top 5: May 12-16, 2013

May 19, 2013

Throughout the May 1216 work week, Arab social media discourse was fueled by a variety of debates, and for the third week in a row, the pan-Arab vocal talent competition Arab Idol continued to capture the interest of tens of thousands of social media users. The topic, topping the Art category, generated a total volume of 76,337 comments. The top discussed category, however, was politics.

Politics was the leading category throughout the past week as explosions reported in the Libyan city of Benghazi accumulated 18,176 posts. Booby-trapped cars detonated at security buildings, car dealerships and a hospital, leaving scores killed and injured. Some social media users said the blasts were a warning letter from Qatar to Benghazi, the birthplace of the 2011 Libyan uprising.

“To sum up… Qatar tells Libyans that they either relent to its moderate Muslim Brotherhood, or it will unleash the fighting Jihadists to detonate the country…” Some others believed that the Gulf state had first threatened Libyans with the “moderate Islamist” Muslim Brotherhood, but plans to unleash the extremist Salafists and Jihadist groups against the people. Hundreds of users condemned the blasts. Libyan social media user Eman Elzawi, commented on Facebook: “Our silence and compliance to what happens in Benghazi makes every Libyan man and woman responsible for the atrocities that happened and will happen. This is the beginning. Four explosions in the same week. What a shame!”


Arts appeared as the second most-discussed category on Arab social media platforms. The May 11 episode of Arab Idol 2 was the not only the most attractive topic to thousands of users, but also the only subject in this category for the week. Thousands of users showed overwhelming interest in the 15th episode of the vocal arts competition, posting a total of 76,337 posts related to Arab Idol. Many commented on the judges’ use of the show’s only Wild Card to keep a contestant safe from elimination. Social media users attacked the judging panel, especially Emirati singer Ahlam, for lobbying for the use of the Wild Card to keep Saudi contestant Fares al-Madani in the show despite low audience voting. Users say Ahlam is favoring Madani against the other contestants who are “real singing talents”.  A Facebook user commented on the Wild Card saying: “I can’t believe that Fares is back with the only Wild Card in the show. Many other better contestants will miss the chance to remain in the coming weeks. Anyway, next week, there will be no Wild Cards and he will leave. If you agree, press like.”

ArtFor the second week, Religion remained the third most discussed category. The top news in the Religion category was driven by the increasing social media activity of Saudi preacher and cleric Sheikh Salman al- Odah. The Saudi preacher has noticeably spiked, following increased engagement with fans. In one of the posts, Sheikh Odah urges fans to cling to hope, even if they lead a miserable life. In another post, the cleric urges fans and followers to abandon fear of the future which, as he says, kills people’s souls.

The majority of users commended Odah’s advice, yet they criticized him for generalizing all ideas of the Arab World. A Facebook user addressed the Sheikh: “God bless you Sheikh. At this time of temptations and lust. This is the time of open internet links. How can we teach virtue to our children?” Other users argued with the sheikh’s advice, with Abu Abed writing: “Dear Sheikh, you live in a safe society, you didn’t experience life in a turbulent Arab Spring country where no-one can plan their next move.” The topic has generated a total volume of 14,070 comments, the majority of which appeared on Twitter.

Unlike last week, the Society category excelled over Sports with regards to volume. Ranked as the fourth most-debated category, Society made up about 6 per cent of the total volume of the Top 5 discussed categories. News about the Egyptian officer who was killed in Port Said drug bust led the topics debated in the Society category. The topic, which counted 6,448, comments, mostly from Egypt was notably active on social media. Officer Karim Wagih, who an Egyptian Special Forces captain, was killed in a shootout during a major drug bust in the city of Port Said. Sadness permeated Egyptian social media networks over Wagih’s death.

Many prayed that God would rest him in peace and regard him as a martyr. Many, however, attacked the Egyptian interior ministry for failing to protect the lives of its officers by not providing them with bulletproof vests.  Facebook user Miro El Amoor said: “The blood of those martyrs is the responsibility of the interior minister. If the officer were his son, he would have made it his mission to secure him better than busting a 100 thugs or outlaws.”  Many others expressed solidarity with the police, who do their jobs despite the lax security conditions in the Arab world’s most populous country.


Finally, Sports was the least discussed among the other four categories last week. Accumulating around only 4 percent of total volume, the most discussed topic in the Sports category was news of Egypt’s two most famous football rivals, Al-Ahly and Zamalek, playing in the 2013 CAF Champions League in the same group. Many social media users expressed their hope that the two teams would excel in their group. Other users were afraid that riots would erupt during the games that are set to be held in Egypt.  Facebook user Islam Salah al-Din referenced the 2012 Port Said stadium riot in 2012 in which in which 79 people were killed and as many as 1,000 injured: “Football now? If you enter a stadium, can you guarantee that another massacre will not take place?” Some other users expressed their concern about the recently observed poor performance of Al-Ahly, believing that the team might pull the entire performance of the group to a lower standard.  Mems Love said on Facebook: “Speaking of teams’ performances, Al Ahly must work harder. We can’t win by optimism only.”