Ahram Online examines what Egyptians searched for the most in Arabic on Google in 2021.
1 – Al-Ahly Club
According to Google Trends, “Al-Ahly club” in Arabic was the most searched-for term by Egyptians in 2021.
Ahly finished third in the Club World Cup in February 2021 in Doha, then claimed their 10th African crown by winning the 2020-21 Total CAF Champions league in July 2021, giving the Cairo giants a very successful year by all measures.
2 – Thanaweya Amma results
The second most searched term by Egyptians this year was the "Thanaweya Amma results 2021" in Arabic.
Since the Ministry of Education began releasing the results of the career-determining high school exams online in the 2000s, the term Thanaweya Amma has been heavily searched in the months of July and August.
This year, the number of searches for Thanaweya Amma reached their peak from 15 to 21 August.
Minister of Education Tarek Shawki announced this year that for the first time in more than three decades, none of the top-ranking students nationwide achieved full marks.
This year, 74 percent of students passed the national high school exams, a noticeable decline from 81 percent in 2019/20, after new reforms were enacted in the examination system.
Scores in the competitive nationwide exams determine which university and faculty students can attend, if any.
For the first time in three decades, the minimum grades required for admission into public universities for the 2021/22 academic year, including top faculties such as medicine and engineering, recorded a considerable drop.
3- Coronavirus vaccination registration
Registering to receive coronavirus vaccines came third on the list of most searched by Egyptians on Google in 2021.
Egypt started its mass public vaccination campaign in January of this year, giving priority to healthcare workers, chronic disease patients, and the elderly.
In February, the Ministry of Health and Population launched an official website for the public to register for inoculation shots.
At first, vaccination got off to a slow start, but it gradually picked up as the country received millions of vaccines from COVAX and foreign donors and opened more vaccination centres.
Google trends show that the search for coronavirus vaccination registration peaked in August, in parallel with a fast rise in the rate of vaccination.
In November, Egypt announced that it was including 12 to 15-years-old and 15 to 18-years-old in its mass vaccination campaign.
In mid-November, the government mandated that only vaccinated state employees would be allowed to enter their workplaces without a negative PCR test.
In December, Egypt started barring unvaccinated citizens seeking to receive public services from entering government institutions. In the same month, the health ministry began texting eligible groups to receive the booster shots of the coronavirus vaccine.
Earlier in the year, the government set a goal to fully vaccinate 40 million people by the end of 2021, but has since revised its target downwards to 23 million.
When it comes to vaccine stocks, Egypt tops the list of African countries, with 64.5 million vaccine doses available for use.
Egypt has a stock of imported doses of the Sinopharm, Sinovac, AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
It has also locally produced millions of doses of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine.
Egypt has reported 383,003 COVID infections since the outbreak of the pandemic in February 2020. The total number of deaths from the virus stands at 21,667, with 318,456 recoveries.
4 – Sherihan
Egyptian superstar Sherihan’s big return to TV in April after two-decades in retirement earned her a place as the topmost searched celebrity in 2021, according to Google.
Google Trends showed searches for the 57-year-old Ramadan quiz show icon of the 1980s and 90s skyrocketed that month when she starred in a big-spending commercial campaign for Vodafone Egypt.
In July, Sherihan returned to TV with the musical Coco Chanel, which aired on the Saudi platform Shahid.
5 – Summer Olympics
Egyptians followed closely the 2020 Tokyo summer Olympics in July, as Google Trends show, as the country participated in the 17-day competition with its largest-ever delegation.
Egypt finished in 54th place out of 86 in the Olympic medals table after winning six medals – the largest number ever for Egypt in the Olympics – with one gold, one silver and four bronze in four different competitions: Taekwondo, Greco-Roman Wrestling, Karate, and the Modern Pentathlon.
Seif Eissa and Hedaya Malak won two bronze medals in Taekwondo; Mohamed Ibrahim claimed a bronze in Greco-Roman wrestling; Gianna Farouk won a bronze in Karate; Ahmed El-Gendi claimed a silver in the Modern Pentathlon; and Feryal Ashraf snatched the gold in Karate.
Ashraf became the first Egyptian woman ever to win a gold medal in Karate and in the Olympics.
It was also Egypt's first gold medal since wrestler Karam Gaber won the gold at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
6- The plural of milk
The importance of the Thanaweya Amma exams to Egyptians this year asserted itself again on Google Trends in July.
When a rumour went viral that the Arabic language exam in Thanaweya Amma would include the question “What is the plural of Halib (Milk in Arabic)?”, students and parents started to frantically search for the “Halib.”
Oops! Halib is both singular and plural in Arabic.
Luckily for the students, that question was not included on the tests.
7- The Palestinian flag
Searches for the flag of Palestine in Egypt skyrocketed in May, according to Google Trends, during the intensive Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip and Palestinian resistance factions shelling Israel with rockets.
The conflict was sparked on 10 May when Israel cracked down on Palestinian demonstrators protesting Israel’s plan to forcibly expel Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah district in East Jerusalem.
The round-the-clock Israeli airstrikes on the besieged-Gaza Strip killed 250 Palestinians, including many women and children, wounded 8,000 others, and left hundreds of residential buildings destroyed.
In late May, Egypt sponsored a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinian factions to end the 11-day military operation in the Gaza Strip.
Egypt also pledged $500 million as a contribution to reconstruction efforts in Gaza with the participation of Egyptian companies.
In the weeks that followed the ceasefire, head of Egypt's General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel travelled to Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Gaza to cement the deal, which became one of Egypt's key diplomatic accomplishments in 2021.
Egypt continues to sponsor rounds of national dialogue between Palestinian factions in Cairo to achieve Palestinian unity for peace negotiations.
8 – The out-of-control Chinese rocket
In early May, millions around the world, including Egyptians according to Google Trends, followed anxiously the fate of the out-of-control Chinese rocket.
In late April, China launched its Long March 5B rocket with the Tianhe core module for its space station, which is being built in low orbit.
After the rocket helped launch the core module into orbit, its body made an uncontrolled re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere over the Arabian Peninsula, according to the United States Space Command.
It then crashed into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, according to Chinese media.
The construction of the Chinese space station is scheduled to be completed in late 2022.
9 – The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
This was a year full of Googling by Egyptians for the term “Renaissance Dam”, referring to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Google Trends.
This comes as no surprise, since Egyptians, who depend on the Nile for 97 percent of their water, have been closely waiting for years for Addis Ababa to agree to a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the GERD in order to safeguard the country's shares in the Nile water.
The searches for the Ethiopian dam peaked in July, when Ethiopia announced that it had completed the second filling of the GERD despite the objections of both Egypt and Sudan.
Earlier in July, and for the second year in a row, Egypt and Sudan took the dispute to the United Nation Security Council (UNSC), and the 15-member body called on the parties involved to resume negotiations and avoid taking unilateral measures.
In September, the UNSC adopted a Tunisia-drafted presidential statement encouraging Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to resume negotiations to swiftly reach a "mutually acceptable and binding agreement on the filling and operation" of the GERD according to a specific timetable.
Egypt and Sudan welcomed the statement, but Ethiopia rejected it.
Since April, the GERD talks have been halted despite attempts by the African Union to revive it.
At the moment, the Ethiopian government is mired in a civil war, while Sudan is undergoing internal political instability.
10- Samir Ghanem
Legendary Egyptian comedian and actor Samir Ghanem passed away in May at the age of 84 due to complications from the coronavirus.
With a career spanning over six decades, Ghanem was among the most iconic artists in Egypt and across the Arab World.
The death of Ghanem was soon followed in August by the passing of his wife, renowned Egyptian actress Dalal Abdel-Aziz at the age of 61, also due to complications from coronavirus.
The news of the iconic couple's deaths back-to-back shocked the country.
In May and August, Google Trends recorded major spike in searches for both artists.
In August, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ordered that a bridge in New Cairo be named after Ghanem.
Ghanem and Abdel-Aziz are survived by two daughters, Donia and Amy, who are also well-known actors and comedians.