How did the "Year in Search" pan out for users in the Middle East and North African region? Thanks to Think With Google, we don't need to take a wild guess; the numbers speak for themselves.
Every year, Google releases its "Year in Search," giving marketers a chance to utilize people's searching habits. The MENA region has been analyzed separately; turns out, 2019 was the "Year of Saudi Arabia."
"Saudi Arabia is undergoing unprecedented social change and the excitement is clear from top search trends across MENA in 2019," Think With Google writes.
Among the top googled happenings in the region, many have much to do with events in Saudi Arabia. These include Riyadh Season, Jeddah Season, and Korean pop group BTS' historic concert in Saudi Arabia.
First came "Jeddah Season"
Months before Saudi Arabia officially began issuing tourist visas, it tested the waters with visas specifically for events. In June 2019, Saudi Arabia unofficially issued visas for people interested in attending Jeddah Season. This was a stepping stone for what came to be known as "tourism" and "entertainment" in Saudi Arabia — two concepts that were quite non-existent in the kingdom just a couple of years ago.
The kingdom went from not acknowledging tourist visas to giving out visas in three minutes to anyone who purchased a ticket to attend any of the festival's events. No wonder it topped the charts on Google.
The month-long festival came to an end with a massive music show as some of the biggest names in the industry took the stage.
Titled "Jeddah World Fest," the one-night-only music festival welcomed a lineup like no other including Liam Payne, former One Direction member, DJ Steve Aoki, Chris Brown, Janet Jackson, Tyga, Future, and 50 Cent. It was Saudi Arabia's biggest music festival to ever take place ... so can you really blame people for over-googling Jeddah Season?
Jeddah Season in its entirety was a major step forward for the entertainment sector in the kingdom. If people weren't googling what events to attend, then they were probably googling to better understand what the fuss was all about.
Much of the entertainment hype was thought to be reserved for Jeddah, which is often described as the more lax city in Saudi Arabia. But, Riyadh Season disputed that belief, proving to be successful in its own right.
Then came "Riyadh Season"
The multi-location festival attracted over 5 million visitors in its first three weeks alone, was extended beyond its two-month schedule, and brought in cash flow worth millions. To put things in numbers, Riyadh Season generated $270 million in revenues, attracted 10.3 million visitors, and provided over 34,700 jobs.
The months-long festival gave way for the first foreign solo concert to ever take place in the kingdom. No one would've imagined this would happen back when movie theaters weren't even a thing in the country. But that's all changed. Even restaurants are no longer gender-segregated.
That brings us to the next point. BTS.
And finally came BTS' performance, the first foreign solo concert to ever take place in Saudi Arabia
Over 60,000 attendees tuned in to K-Pop hits as BTS took the stage in Saudi Arabia in October 2019.
On Oct. 11, the band performed to a sold-out crowd at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh. The seven-member band arranged for free shuttle buses, allowing fans to commute from the city to the stadium. They even uttered a few Arabic phrases in the midst of their performance.
People were probably googling tickets for the concert or googling a live stream version of it if they couldn't make it.
The band faced some criticism for going ahead with their scheduled concert in Saudi Arabia, taking over international headlines, which may have been another reason why it trended on Google.
Besides Saudi Arabia, what did the region google?
People in the region were interested in a few things over the course of 2019. These include Egyptian indie band Cairokee's new album "The Ugly Ducklings" and the naming of Mohamed Salah as "Man of the Year 2019."
Worldwide trends such as the 10-year-challenge, bottle challenge, and the baby shark song were also among the top googled items in the region last year.