Posts tagged ‘UAE’

Are you ready for Ramadan? A Comparative Buzz Analysis

As millions of Muslims prepare for the Holy Month of Ramadan, modern technology and social media have stepped in to help them share their views and wishes during this special time in the Muslim calendar. Muslims are taking this opportunity to raise awareness and encourage one another to make the best of the Holy Month. Companies and organizations are also supporting their social responsibility initiatives on this occasion by offering internet services and mobile applications to help people give a deeper meaning to Ramadan. For example, Nokia’s free “Ramadan application suite” allows users to look for the nearest mosque, keep track of prayer times and browse the Quran, whereas iPhone’s “Ramadan Booster Pro” offers tips and recommendations related to the Holy Month. In addition, MSD pharmaceutical firm launched an iPhone application helping Muslim diabetics make sure they are able to control their blood sugar levels while fasting. All these applications are designed to help users perform their religious rituals with ease and find the right spiritual and physical balance.

Meanwhile, Salam World, or “Muslim Facebook,” is a new project being launched this Ramadan with the intention of serving the needs of the Muslim community by offering a communication platform with Islamic content. Salam World hosts many applications that allow Muslims to educate themselves on the Islamic heritage using eBooks, an Islamic encyclopedia and interactive sessions with qualified scholars and experts on Islamic science. The main purpose of the project is to provide Muslims with their own space on the internet and on social networking sites to interact with one another in a ‘halal’ way, i.e. a way that is religiously permissible.

Not only have Ramadan-specific technology-based offers increased in recent years, but more and more online users have been using social media platforms to share their thoughts or disseminate important information about the Holy Month. That’s why in this Buzz report we took a closer look at what social media users have been discussing in relation to Ramadan. The following analysis is based on a sample of 700 tweets out of the total of 3169 unique mentions captured in the UAE and Kuwait. For our search, we used different spelling variations of the keyword “Ramadan” in both English and Arabic, as well as popular Twitter hashtags between July 1st and July 10th 2012.

Arabic is the first official language of the UAE and Kuwait, but findings showed that users in both countries used both Arabic and English to express themselves. In the UAE, 85% of comments were in English compared to 15% in Arabic, whereas 89% of Kuwaiti comments were in Arabic and only 11% were in English.

 In general, the content in Arabic posted by users in Kuwait mostly came from religious leaders trying to educate people about Ramadan and inspire them to take a more serious interest in their religion. More than two thirds of the volume analyzed was of a religious nature. Users shared videos and pictures that emphasized the spirit of Ramadan to prepare worshippers for the special days to come. The remainder of the volume analyzed was related to charitable events or grants-in-aid within the Arab region.

Thus, the bulk of comments were discussing the ethical and religious dimensions of Ramadan by sharing different videos of religious leaders’ speeches on the matter. Many charity-related initiatives were being tweeted, particularly charities directed towards Syria, Africa and needy families in the GCC region. 14% of users also shared information about the different TV shows and series airing during Ramadan; most comments expressed negative sentiments towards them, believing them to be a distraction from prayer and worship, which are the main objectives of Ramadan. Meanwhile, plenty of posts related their prayers and wishes for the Holy Month and expressed their excitement towards it.

Due to the low volume of English conversation on social media in Kuwait, it was not possible to detect distinct trends. Most comments expressed excitement about the upcoming Holy Month, sharing food tips and discussing Ramadan TV shows. A tweet about a charity initiative within the context of Kim Kardashian’s visit to Kuwait was retweeted several times:

Findings on derived from the content in Arabic posted by users in UAE were somewhat similar to those in Kuwait. Many users discussed different spiritual elements of Ramadan, i.e. how to be a better person, prayer schedules, performing Omra (lesser pilgrimage) during Ramadan, etc. Almost half of users expressed their excitement by posting prayers and wishes for the Holy Month. UAE-based users were more excited about the TV shows and series that would be airing during the month and unlike in Kuwait, very few were opposed to them due to religious concerns. Meanwhile, 12% of the volume was related to charity initiatives in the region, organizing visits of friends and family and participating in Ramadan-related events.

The English-language conversation in the UAE presented a slightly different picture than the Arabic-language buzz in both the UAE and in Kuwait. Though the general topics of discussion remained the same, the approaches to these topics and the focus of discussion varied. Tips and instructions on what to do during Ramadan made up 35% of the total buzz and mostly consisted of fasting tips, food recipes, iftar (the meal during which Muslims break their fast) suggestions or warnings of scams. One humorous video instructed users on how to behave during Ramadan. Only 2% shared wishes or prayers and 6% discussed the TV-shows, whereas the proportion of English posts that discussed events or organizations was larger than in Arabic (15%). Users also discussed food prices, opening hours during Ramadan and the exact date on which Ramadan was to begin.

In addition to these topics, four more discussion categories could be identified in the UAE that did not trend in the comments posted in Arabic. The largest topic was linked to marketing, advertising and promotions. As a lot of posts promoted special Ramadan offers, ads, or events. Many posts also simply expressed the author’s excitement towards Ramadan in a way that could not be found in the Arabic buzz e.g. just by saying “I can’t wait for Ramadan!”. In addition, more than 30 comments discussed plans before, during or after Ramadan, and some users stated that they were going to be travelling abroad during the Holy Month and wondered what spending Ramadan away from home was going to be like.  Finally, a proportion of users feared certain restrictions during Ramadan and criticized the fact that there was a smaller inclination towards charity during the rest of the year.

Here are some insights to provide a deeper understanding of the conversation on social media platforms in both Arabic and in English:

Comparing the analyses of the Arabic and English-language conversation, we found, that:

  • Arabic conversation is more related to religious matters e.g. excitement towards Ramadan is expressed in prayers and wishes.
  • The majority of English charity-related posts either disseminated information about an initiative or an event whereas the Arabic posts usually offered help.
  • The posts captured in English focused on the organizational aspects of Ramadan such as food, locations, plans, events and so on; in Arabic, the focus was on religious content, especially in Kuwait because the majority of the content was spread by religious leaders.
  • A huge proportion of the English-language buzz was advertising and promotions—none of which could be found in Arabic.

This poses the question of whether the topics of discussion are more affected by language or region. The analysis indicates that the language affects how the ideas are expressed and the topics of discussion are a factor in determining which languages are used. For example, to express excitement, Arabic-speaking users posted prayers, whereas in English expressions of excitement were limited to simple, straight-forward statements.

To conclude this week’s Buzz Report, we used user comments to extract some general Do’s and Don’ts during Ramadan. To conclude, Ramadan Kareem!

Scope Note:

The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that dominate current discussions on various social media platforms. Our research included UAE and in Kuwait-based content related to Ramadan. The data obtained in both Arabic and English was captured the period between July 1st to July 10th.  Our search was both manual and automated, using the various English and Arabic spellings of “Ramadan” as our keyword.

If you are interested in monitoring any special event, political development or a certain brand/product, we welcome you to contact us at info@social-eyez.com. We also appreciate any suggestions and improvements for this Blog. Also follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook-Page to get regular updates regarding future Buzz Reports.

#UAEDressCode – A Social Media Debate

Two UAE nationals took the responsibility of raising the flag on dress code violations in Dubai. The campaign was launched on Twitter by Hanan Al Rayes and Asma Al Muhairi. They used the hagsh tag “UAEDressCode” and began educating Dubai residents and creating awareness on the norms, traditions and culture of the country and the emirate.

The campaign was launched during the month of May.  The hashtag #UAEDressCode has attracted many followers since its launch. And the campaign has helped stir a conversation on both social media and local media outlets. One question was raised across all platforms; should foreigners or expats abide by such rules. Users on social media labeled the initiative as a restriction on personal freedom, and stated that everyone should be free to do whatever they want in a city that opened its doors to an international audience.  The campaign became viral on Twitter and spilled over to different social media channels such as Facebook and various Blogs. The campaign is now at an international level and also transformed into an “off-line” controversy, when the topic was discussed in the Federal National Council on 12th of June.

Over a 45 day period (5th May – 18th June 2012) of monitoring, we captured a total of 10,025 conversations from the UAE. SocialEyez analyzed a total of 1,116 conversations when compiling this buzz report.

63% of the coverage was captured on Microblogs such as Twitter, followed by 32% captured on Social Network such as Facebook.  The remaining 5% was divided amongst Newspapers, Blogs and Forums/Message Boards.

The aim of the campaign was to educate the public on local traditions rather than enforcing dress code regulations for tourists and resident expatriates.  Furthermore the campaign’s language changed from Arabic to English with the growing local and international attention. The campaign received mixed reactions; few users loved the initiative and echoed its benefits across all social media platforms. While the remaining users thought that this was an unnecessary movement targeting the expat community.

The dialogue on social media platforms suggested that many expat women found the campaign to be “offensive” and that it represented women in “an unpleasant way”, making way for an anti-campaign movement promoting the belief in a free choice of clothing as a basic human right.  With the rise of the anti-campaign some users no longer wanted to be a part of the discussion asking for a conversation between locals and expats instead of a disrespectful argument on social media.

The change of attitude towards the law can be seen in a poll by “The National” on 13th June which showed that 70% of the respondents thought that a dress code law is required.  However on 23rd June, 64% voted that tourists and residents should be more educated rather than creating a law.  Overall the majority of people supported the campaign #UAEDressCode, users who conversed in Arabic were pro-campaign and encourage the idea of a law with 67% of positive reactions or support and no negative reactions (the remaining 23% were neutral posts with links to news articles about the campaign).

The subjects of the discussion are showed below:

Users who were pro-campaign encouraged the idea of covering up stressing that it was a matter of respect to dress adequately in UAE. 10% of the comments were written in an offensive way, and around 20% preferred a dialogue between locals and foreigners. Apart from tradition and culture a few discussions raised religion and that expatriates were to respect the fact that the UAE was indeed an Islamic country. A small percentage of users suggested introducing the abaya as appropriate clothing for all residents.

To prove the fact that foreigners do not wear “respectful” clothing in the UAE, many users stated that they saw “naked” women in malls and some even attached pictures to their tweets and posts.  The latter lead to further discussions as some active users did not appreciate looking at exposing pictures of women online.  Some comments also stated that a dress code should also be required for men, i.e topless and revealing shorts.  As a consequence of immodest clothing some users pointed out that, women get “evil” looks from men and this could be the reason for sexual harassment.

 

Users who reasoned the campaign (mainly tourists and expatriates) thought that lack of information and awareness was causing the problem. Some comments focused on the changing tradition in the UAE, asserting that locals themselves are not wearing traditional dresses anymore.  Moreover, shops for selling revealing clothes and the music and advertising industry are to blame for the origin of indecent clothing. These users requested the local community and authorities to educate expatriates and tourists on how to dress appropriately in the UAE.

The social media users who were against the campaign questioned the need for such restrictions and defended the expatriate community. Some users had difficulty to understand the priority of topics, as in their opinion there are more urgent issues that could be discussed.  They also accused the campaign supporters of being Islamists.

There were several neutral posts containing links to topics related news articles, and many comments contained a meta-discussion about the campaign, promoting the demand to trend the hash tag #UAEdresscode.  In addition to spreading awareness, organizational questions to the founders of the campaign were raised as well as a comparison to a further campaign (no2nudity).  Last but not least there were also some thankful comments which stated the success of the campaign and how it found its way through the social web.

Some examples tweets:

Conclusion:

Overall the topic “UAEdresscode” is not only interesting because of the content and the debate itself, but it also demonstrates the impact a Social Media campaign can create.  This campaign has been trending and is viral for longer than a month. It has spilled over to other media channels both online and offline and has made a difference in the real world, e.g. by triggering a fundamental social discussion in UAE’s headquarters.

Whether you agree or disagree with the act of policing people’s clothing, such a campaign seems unique because it was not launched by the governmental authority, but by two individuals, and their tools of communication was not conventional media like broadcasting and the press, but rather twitter. As a step towards education tourists and expatriates the Abu Dhabi authorities have now introduced an Ethics guide. A 14-point guide released by Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters on the 5th of July, 2012. Omeir Al Muhairi, Deputy Director of Police Operations at Abu Dhabi Police GHQ  said “The code of ethics has been issued to ensure that tourists fully adhere to local rules and regulations, and do not upset the traditional and cultural values. The guideline has been prepared so the tourists have all the comfort and enjoy their visit at the same time ensuring the security of the society and respect of traditional and religious values”.

Scope Note:

The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that dominate current discussions on various Social Media platforms. This explicit search was conducted globally with a special focus on the UAE about the campaign #UAEdresscode. The mentioned posts and comments were captured in both English and Arabic from the 5th May – 18th of June 2012. The keyword for the search was “UAEdresscode” in different spelling variations and hashtags and was afterwards checked manually.

If you are interested in monitoring any special event, political development or a certain brand/product we welcome you to contact us at info@social-eyez.com. We also appreciate any suggestions and improvements for this Blog. Also follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook-Page to get regular updates regarding future Buzz Reports.

iPhone 4S Launch in the UAE

Yes, it’s here! On December 16th Apple officially launched the iPhone4S in the UAE. The Social Media Universe rose up in excitement, the new iPhone was the talkof the town, social media users shared their thoughts on its features, specifications, applications and of course about Siri.  In this Buzz Report SocialEyez tried to identify the main topics being discussed, user perception and sentiment. The search was conducted for a 22 day period starting from December 4th until December 25th.

SocialEyez team of analysts narrowed the discussions down to two most popular or discussed subjects / topics.

  1. Users discussing if the iPhone was their number one choice and if it was as appealing as other devices introduced by Apple or its competitors.
  2. Users asking questions about its release date, price and availability. Discussions on delay in delivery was repetitive, many users stressed the fact across social media.

Topic 1: General sentiment towards the iPhone

Neutral:

The majority of comments were neutral opinions, users were discussing basic information about the iPhone with the simple intention of sharing information.

Examples of popular comments: “Your iPhone’s home button isn’t as responsive as it used to be, here is a solution: http://t.co/YiYENEvd Amazing! It works.” or “LOL!!! Make Your iPhone Read Any Text Aloud with Just a Few Taps http://t.co/6ACptoIR,” relating to Siri, the new natural language user interface.

With regards to the positive and negative coverage users were inclined to have either very strong positive or negative opinions towards the iPhone.

Positive:

When it comes to Apple there is the popular ‘iPhone Lovers’ group. These set of users adore everything created by Apple. Normal posts contain messages like “I miss my iPhone”, “Loving my new iPhone!” or “Retweet if you have an #iPhone.” Users also share their excitement for special apps and tools. For example, a post from a Dubai based user: “Got to say that I think I’m falling in love. Google maps on the iPhone is truly my soul mate and saves the day every time ;-)”. Another user posted: “I’m realizing that everything I thought was cool on my old android phone is AMAZING on my #iPhone! #nevergoingback”, while user SaraAljawi adds: “Done with blackberry world. I am tweeting by speaking to this awesome iPhone how cool is that!!”

Negative:

On the other hand there exists the ‘iPhone opposers’ – these group of social media users are no less strong and persistent. The release of the new iPhone couldn’t change their negative opinions. One user quotes: “It is a useless device, just a waste of money. Nothing special with iPhone 4S”, while another user states: “Stupid iPhone is effin up today.” User _Dreamkeeper remarks: “I’m never going to ditch my Nokia E7 for an iPhone. Ever.” Interestingly some users previously seemed to like or at least own an iPhone but had now changed their mind.  A disappointed user from the UAE explains: “I got my iPhone 4 S last month and it’s a great disappointment. It’s just a hype and SIRI isn’t good because it’s predominantly made for the US consumer.” Twitter-user Sweet_luv_21 adds: “I’ll purchase Black berry soon ~ good bye IPhone!”

Overall by comparing the positive and negative reactions posted by users there is a clear winner. The share of comments that were in favor of the new iPhone reached approximately two-thirds, while only one-third of the buzz were negative opinions. The peak in volume was during the period December 11th – 13th, a few days before the device was launched in the UAE. This might be related to the media coverage in local newspapers and the telecom operators such as Etisalat and its announcement related to the start of pre-ordering on December 11th.

Topic 2: Sales and availability of the iPhone

With the official launch of the iPhone sale on the December 16th long queues were lined up and the UAE telecom operators Etisalat and du witnessed a surge in iPhone4S sales and bookings at customer care kiosks across Dubai. Gulfnews quotes an Etisalat clerk who describes the demand as overwhelming: “I’m quite surprised, a lot of people want this new version of the iPhone4 and they want it right now.” Many social media users were upset with delivery problems and insufficient information. For example on Facebook user Kristofer Mariano posted: “I have went to 3 of your business centre they told me not yet released and maybe i cant have coz its already all PREBOOKED…. how is it possible? I did ask them aswell if i can pre book they said not possible… so some specialtreatments to others???” On the official du Facebook Page Azhar Abdu Muhammed posted: “Greetings! I’m Azhar and I just want to tell that suprisingly your shop disregard my request to avail the iphone 4s that you had advertise in your site. The staff told me that I can’t purchase or avail the iphone 4s because I haven’t received any messages from you.”

The most popular query was about the price of the new iPhone and its availability. Users shared information on where these devices were out of stock and which telecom was offering better plans and packages with the iPhone. Dubai based user Waleed Jameel aks: “No branch or Business Center is open on Friday. So where exactly is one supposed to go and find out about iPhone 4S from??”, another user promoted the iPhone in KSA: “iPhone 4s in KSA is cheaper see the plan…”. Social Media was a medium users to share updated information, to assist users by providing them with correct information. Brands need to be extra cautious when announcing new products on social media, a good social media plan can play a crucial role on consumers trends.

Scope Note:

The Buzz Report monitors trends and themes that recently buzzed on various Social Media platforms. This explicit search was conducted on all Social Media platforms (mainly Twitter and Facebook) in the UAE in Arabic and English language starting from December 4th until December 25th. The focus of the research was on consumer discussions related to the launch of the new iPhone 4s.

If you are further interested in monitoring any special event, political development or a certain brand/product we welcome you to contact us at info@social-eyez.com. We also appreciate any suggestions and improvements regarding this Blog. Also follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook-Page to get regular updates regarding future Buzz Reports.

Recent published Buzz-Reports:

Egypt Elections

UAE National Day

Jailed Blogger: Maikel Nabil

The Buzz – Apple IPad

One of the most anticipated product launches of the year, the Apple iPad was introduced to the public on April 3rd, 2010. In true Apple style, the iPad created big buzz with consumers worldwide.

Geographical distribution of social media mentions

Over an 18 day period (28th March – 15th April), we monitored a social media buzz totalling 80,968 conversations, with an average of 3,680 conversations per day; peaking at 15,072 a few day prior to launch.

In the Middle East region, a total 1,148 conversations were recorded, with Egypt, the UAE, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Tunisia, generating 88% of total Middle East chatter. Almost all conversations were in English, spread across a wide range of age groups (18-49 yrs old), demonstrating the universal appeal of the brand. However, this seemed to be a guys thing with males accounting for 76% of the conversation and females just 24%.

26% of the social media mentions for the Apple iPad launch were positive, which is reflective of a deeply entrenched brand evoking a strong, favourable reaction from its audiences.

Click here to download The Buzz report (PDF)

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