Published on Arab Voices

Our Blog 2012: What did MENA view in Arabic, English, and French?

Our blogs are available in three languages, Arabic, English, and French.  37,754 viewed the Arabic blog, 143,648 viewed the English blog, and 25,599 the French blog.

So, do the the readers of these three languages migrate to the same topics?  Yes and no.


ImageThe top blog in 2012 was by far the one calling on people to “Join Our Team”. In a region where youth employment is scarce, this call for applications to a new youth program for Arabic speakers at the World Bank received over 3000 views in Arabic and more than twice as many in English (It was not available in French).

In general, blogs on employment were popular in all languages. Out of the top 20 blogs in each language, employment blogs were over one third in English and French and one fifth in Arabic.

Education was next key theme in all languages, making up 3 to 4 of the top 20.

Consultation blogs were also popular in all three languages, comprising about 2-3 of the top 20. These are blogs that ask for readers to send in responses/questions on topics of interest.

And no . Not all languages seek out the same topics predictably.

Governance was a more popular topic in Arabic and French than English. Topics such as democracy, corruption, public procurement took 3 to 4 of the top 20 spots on each.  In English, blogs on governance did not make the top 20 list.

In contrast, gender was more popular in English. Two blogs on gender hit the top 20 in English, one in Arabic and none in French.  

Renewables are more popular in English and French, with two blogs on the topic reaching the top 20. Our Arabic readers appear less interested in Energy.

So, what do we learn from this?

Jobs is the universal economic issue. Improving education is also of critical interest to our broader audience (though this may in part reflect characteristics of the population that reads blogs).

It also highlights some divisions. English and French readers show relatively greater interest in Gender and Renewable energy, while Arabic readers are relatively more concerned with the fundamentals of democracy and governance.

Finally, the numbers show that there is less interest among all readers in core economic issues, such as macrostability, energy subsidies, fiscal deficits, etc. I don’t think this is because these topics are less critical for development in the region, but perhaps because they are less accessible or seem less relevant at a personal level. It could also be that at a time of political transition and these traditional topics are quite simply a bit boring. This doesn’t mean that we should write less on these topics, but we need to write better.





Caroline Freund

Dean of the UC San Diego School of Global Policy and Strategy

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