Online activity sees 30 percent increase during Ramadan

Updated 16 July 2013

Online activity sees 30 percent increase during Ramadan

According to a report by The Online Project (TOP), a leading social media agency in the Middle East, high levels of Internet activity are observed during the month of Ramadan in the Middle East. Results show that residents are active on social media by up to 30 percent more during Ramadan, posting a greater amount of religious content.
TOP studied Facebook and Twitter penetration in nine different countries across the region, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and the UAE to provide a broad outline of social media trends in the region, taking into account levels of engagement, response, insight and the timings of their interaction.
“Ramadan is a sacred month, where strengthening connections with family, friends and fellow Muslims is commendable,” says Manal Assaad, a social media strategist and marketing consultant. “Naturally, many tend to resort to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to greet people and spread a good vibe. Many also view this as an opportunity to initiate or join charitable activities and invite others to participate. Campaigns such as “Iftar Sayem” are easier to plan and organize through groups on Facebook or hashtags on Twitter.
Assad says that as fasting limits activities that can be done during the day, including going out, people have more free time to spend on social networking. “Times that would normally be spent having breakfast, lunch or snacks are being substituted for time spent on social networks in Ramadan. Given the mobility of social networking, we are able to log in any time anywhere and keep ourselves distracted with online activity until it is time to break the fast.”
“Night time is also a popular time for users to spend on social networks,” says Assad. “During Ramadan, people tend to stay up late or wake up for Sahoor (the pre-dawn meal), thus giving them extra time to check out their Facebook and Twitter feeds.”
Assad adds that another aspect not to be forgotten is the rise of TV shows and viewership during Ramadan that also plays a role in increasing engagement on social networks, as viewers resort to Facebook and Twitter to discuss shows such as Khawater and exchange opinions, images, quotes and clips.
High online penetration in several countries in the Middle East is seen during the night or early hours of the morning. In Saudi Arabia, the popular social networking site Facebook is mostly active at around 10 p.m. among residents. In addition, the number of Twitter posts appears predominantly between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m.
“People tweet more to avoid watching TV and YouTube during Ramadan,” says Ahmed Shamim, a social media specialist (@DFundamentalist). “In my case, I share help tips for Ramadan, retweet religious quotes and share Hadiths on my Twitter account during Ramadan. I follow several muftis and scholars as well.”
Shamim says that the shorter working hours during Ramadan give people more free time to spend on social networking sites and provides a diversion from music and movies. The Online Project report also showed that social media users are inclined to post more positive content during Ramadan than before, while negative content is declining.
Brand engagement levels and consumer targeting showed a 33-percent hike in Facebook and an 11-percent hike on Twitter in Saudi Arabia during the holy month.
Company spending on traditional advertising in newspapers and on television increase at an average rate of 20 percent during the holy month, while consumer spending among Middle Eastern residents also rises. Most notably, the four largest telecom companies spend around $ 200 million during Ramadan.


Japan spacecraft starts yearlong journey home from asteroid

Updated 13 November 2019

Japan spacecraft starts yearlong journey home from asteroid

  • The spacecraft will travel 180 million miles on its journey back to Earth
  • It will bring back soil samples that provide clues to life in space

TOKYO: Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft departed from a distant asteroid on Wednesday, starting its yearlong journey home after successfully completing its mission to bring back soil samples and data that could provide clues to the origins of the solar system, the country’s space agency said.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the spacecraft left its orbit around the asteroid Ryugu, about 300 million kilometers (180 million miles) from Earth.
Hayabusa2 on Wednesday captured and transmitted to Earth one of its final images of Ryugu, or “Dragon Palace,” named after a sea-bottom castle in a Japanese folk tale, as it slowly began moving away from its temporary home, JAXA said. Hayabusa2 will continue its “farewell filming” of the asteroid for a few more days.
Then Hayabusa2 will adjust its position on around Nov. 18 after retreating 65 kilometers (40 miles) from the asteroid and out of its the gravitational pull. It will then receive a signal from JAXA to ignite a main engine in early December en route to the Earth’s vicinity.
Hayabusa2 made touchdowns on the asteroid twice, despite difficulties caused by Ryugu’s extremely rocky surface, and successfully collected data and samples during its 1½-year mission since arriving there in June 2018.
In the first touchdown in February, it collected surface dust samples. In July, it collected underground samples for the first time in space history after landing in a crater it had earlier created by blasting the asteroid surface.
Hayabusa2 is expected to return to Earth in late 2020 and drop a capsule containing the precious samples in the Australian desert.
It took the spacecraft 3½ years to arrive at the asteroid, but the journey home is much shorter thanks to the current locations of Ryugu and Earth.
JAXA scientists believe the underground samples contain valuable data unaffected by space radiation and other environmental factors that could tell more about the origin of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
Asteroids, which orbit the sun but are much smaller than planets, are among the oldest objects in the solar system and may help explain how Earth evolved. Hayabusa2 scientists also said they believe the samples contain carbon and organic matter and hope they could explain how they are related to Earth.