New report finds TikTok’s popularity growing in the GCC

TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace in the GCC, with the platform’s top regional influencers having doubled their follower numbers over the past year. (Reuters/File Photo)
TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace in the GCC, with the platform’s top regional influencers having doubled their follower numbers over the past year. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 22 February 2021

New report finds TikTok’s popularity growing in the GCC

TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace in the GCC, with the platform’s top regional influencers having doubled their follower numbers over the past year. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Influencers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE still dominate the regional top 10

DUBAI: TikTok continues to grow at a rapid pace in the GCC, with the platform’s top regional influencers having doubled their follower numbers over the past year, according to a report from analytics and technology consultancy Anavizio.

“We’ve been watching TikTok’s growth in the GCC region for a year now and it's clear the platform's popularity continues to grow,” Fares Ghneim, partner at Anavizio told Arab News.




Fares Ghneim, partner at Anavizio. (Supplied)

“The controversy around the platform in the US during the summer and autumn of 2020 did nothing to slow TikTok’s growth in the region and anecdotally we’re also starting to see some brands take to the platform which is something that we will be watching more closely in the coming months.”

The cumulative follower total of the top 10 GCC TikTok personalities grew from 24.6 million at the beginning of 2020 to 54.6 million today – an increase of 120 percent.

This rapid growth has also led to a dynamic influence scene with new influencers emerging on the platform frequently. However, some influencers and trends have remained constant.

For instance, influencers from Saudi Arabia and the UAE still dominate the regional top 10 and UAE-based Jumana Khan (@jumana_khan_) retains the number one spot with 8.9 million followers.

However, the strongest growth in percentage terms comes from Oman and Qatar, where follower numbers among the top three influencers grew by a huge 674 percent and 658 percent respectively.

The top 10 influencers in the GCC post anywhere from 2 to 24 videos per week, receiving an average of 350 views.

Anavizio doesn’t track other social media platforms as they are already established, while TikTok is relatively new. Despite TikTok’s rapid growth, it has not yet reached the level of other platforms. “A top regional influencer on Instagram might have 30-40 million followers and multiple deals with brands, whereas the top TikTok influencer in the GCC has 9 million followers,” said Ghneim. “However, at the rate things are going, this gap will narrow over the next couple of years.”


Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
Updated 27 January 2022

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
  • The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television
  • For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq

DUBAI: Channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images Thursday showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic demanding the country’s supreme leader be killed, an incident that state TV later described as a hack.
For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the name of a social media account, which claimed to be a group of hackers who broadcast the message honoring the dissidents.
The MEK, now largely based in Albania, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television, long believed to controlled and operated by members of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence branches, particularly its hard-line Revolutionary Guard. Such an incident hasn’t happened for years.
Iran’s state TV acknowledged the breach as a “hack,” saying the case was “under investigation.”
A clip of the incident seen by the AP showed the faces of MEK leaders Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi, suddenly superimposed on the channel’s regular 3 p.m. news programming. A man’s voice chants, “Salute to Rajavi, death to (supreme leader) Khamenei.”
Then, a speech from Rajavi briefly plays over the images. He can be heard saying, “Today, we still honor the time that we declared death to the reactionary. We stood by it ...”
Massoud Rajavi hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly two decades and is presumed to have died. Maryam Rajavi now runs the MEK.
The MEK began as a socialist organization against the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It claimed and was suspected in a series of attacks against US officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against the clerical regime. It carried out a series of assassinations and bombings targeting the young Islamic Republic.
The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s. That saw many oppose the group in Iran, though to this day it claims to operate a network inside of the country.


Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
Updated 27 January 2022

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
  • Programs include the IPA’s Foundation Certificate and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business

DUBAI: The UAE-based Advertising Business Group has partnered with the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising to bring the latter’s training programs to the region.

The IPA’s professional development program has so far helped 30,870 delegates in 87 countries expand their understanding and skills related to advertising.

“As communication becomes increasingly globally interconnected, it is vital that learning and development is available to as many people as possible all over the world, so we can share expertise, language and experience to deliver better work for our clients and agencies,” said Louise Hinchliffe, the IPA’s associate director of professional development.

ABG members will get discounted access to a range of IPA qualifications, including the entry-level Foundation Certificate, and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business.

“Knowledge- and capability-building is a key pillar of the ABG, and we are committed to providing the MENA advertising and marketing industry with the latest resources and tools to create accountable and effective marketing,” said ABG chairman Sanjiv Kakkar, the executive vice-president of Unilever MENA, in a statement.

“This partnership will go a long way in helping strengthen talent, growing the industry and raising standards,” he added.

The two bodies are running an introductory workshop for ABG members on February 3, which will include a presentation from Sera Holland, author of “IPA Effectiveness Essentials” and co-chair of the IPA Excellence Diploma in Brands.


Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
Updated 27 January 2022

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
  • ‘Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money’

Neil Young’s music is being removed from Spotify’s streaming service after the singer-songwriter objected to his songs playing on the same platform that offers Joe Rogan’s podcast, the company and the musician said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Young had released a letter addressed to his manager and record label, Warner Music Group , demanding that Spotify no longer carry his music because he said Rogan spreads misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
On Wednesday, the “Heart of Gold” and “Rocking In the Free World” singer thanked his record label for “standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify,” and he encouraged other musicians to do the same.
“Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation,” he said on his website. “Lies being sold for money.”
The Swedish company said it worked to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related COVID-19 in accordance with its “detailed content policies.”
“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” Spotify said in a statement.
Rogan, 54, is the host of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the top-rated podcast on Spotify, which holds exclusive rights to the program.
He has stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.
Young, 76, said Spotify accounted for 60 percent of the streaming of his music to listeners around the world. The removal is “a huge loss for my record company to absorb,” he said.


VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region
Updated 27 January 2022

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region

VMLY&R Commerce appoints Nazia Khan as head of growth for MENA region
  • Khan, joining from Outform, will work closely with MENA CEO Nick Walsh

DUBAI: VMLY&R COMMERCE, WPP’s creative commerce agency, has appointed Nazia Khan to the newly formed role of head of growth for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Khan will work closely with MENA CEO Nick Walsh to enhance the agency’s growth plans and business opportunities by opening new verticals across existing sectors.

“We are delighted to welcome Nazia to the team. She comes with a proven track record of driving growth across EMEA and her drive and ambition match strongly with our own,” said Walsh.

The agency enjoyed organic client growth in the last quarter of 2021 as online commerce boomed.

Khan will work with existing clients to integrate the agency’s creative commerce offering into business plans as well as look to further develop the roster of clients across sectors including FMCG, beauty, automotive, technology, consumer electronics and retail.

“We are in a hyper-growth region and the recent explosion of commerce means we need talent like Nazia who can help identify and support clients to reach their goals across the unified commerce landscape,” Walsh added.

Khan previously worked at Outform, a global retail agency where she was the business development director for EMEA and managed multi-million sales channels with a focus on retail transformation clients.

“VMLY&R COMMERCE is the largest end-to-end creative commerce company in the world and I look forward to engaging clients in the pivotal role that the agency can play in leveraging its powerful creative commerce portfolio to drive brand growth,” said Khan.


Germany: Telegram becoming a ‘medium for radicalization’

Germany: Telegram becoming a ‘medium for radicalization’
Updated 26 January 2022

Germany: Telegram becoming a ‘medium for radicalization’

Germany: Telegram becoming a ‘medium for radicalization’
  • The app is being used to target politicians, scientists and doctors for their role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic
  • The task force would seek Telegram's cooperation but also take measures if it doesn't

BERLIN: A top German security official said Wednesday that his agency has created a task force to investigate individuals suspected of using Telegram to commit crimes.
This comes amid growing concerns that the messaging app is becoming a “medium for radicalization.”
Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office warned that the app is being used to target politicians, scientists and doctors for their role in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic in particular has contributed to people becoming radicalized on Telegram, threatening others and even publishing calls to murder,” the agency’s chief, Holger Muench, said in a statement.
He said the task force would seek Telegram’s cooperation but also take measures if it doesn’t.
The German government has tried for years, with little success, to get Telegram to abide by the country’s rules on taking down illegal content.
The company behind the app, which claims to have hundreds of millions of users worldwide, is based in the United Arab Emirates.
Last month, German police carried out raids in Saxony after media reports that a group of people on Telegram had discussed plans to kill the state’s governor, Michael Kretschmer, and other members of the state government. The group’s members shared a rejection of vaccinations, the state and the government’s coronavirus policies.