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Dubai: With UAE residents practicing social distancing, schools still closed and many indus-tries working remotely, the country’s quest to stay informed and entertained at home saw online searches for ‘news’ and ‘movies’ lead the nation’s internet searches in quarter one, ac-cording to data collected by SEMrush, a digital marketing suite.

The UAE’s most searched infotainment terms from January – when the first COVID-19 case was announced in the UAE – until March 2020 was the word ‘news’ with 390,500 related online searches. The search term ‘movies’ ranked second with 310,500 searches over the same three-month period.

Streaming services Netflix and Amazon Prime saw an online search increase of 124 per cent and 123 per cent, respectively, while popular Arabic channel MBC’s direct website traffic was up by 50 per cent during the same period.

In terms of entertainment and movie genres, UAE residents responded to global uncertainty by turning to scary movies. The search term “horror” registered the biggest surge with a 90 per cent search growth, followed by ‘romance’ and ‘nature’, which both saw 83 per cent climbs.

Online searches for remote exercise terms also rose, with ‘home workout’ witnessing a mas-sive increase of 1,963 per cent. Interest in online quizzes also jumped 122 per cent.

While virtual and digital options are proving popular, the first four months of the year saw a resurgence in the popularity of traditional ‘board games’ and ‘puzzles’ with online searches rising 326 per cent and 313 per cent, respectively.

“Web traffic indicates growing interest in well-known entertainment websites with search data breaking this down further to show a high-level of search interest in specific genres such as news, music, romance, nature and documentaries. Gaining insights into search interest at specific times and locations can be invaluable to marketing efforts, especially at this chal-lenging period for businesses globally,” noted Olga Andrienko, Head of Global Marketing at SEMrush.