1. Dubai Frame

The year started off an a positive note for UAE residents as the much awaited Dubai Frame opened to public on January 1. It quickly became one of the top social media trends in the UAE, with users sharing posts and pictures of their visit to the latest landmark.

[Instagram] nikole.nigro: Enjoying the view while stuck in traffic...the #dubaiframe...apparently the largest picture frame in the world #dubai #architecture #enjoythejourney


2. #Oprah2020

When Oprah Winfrey received the Cecil B. DeMille Award for outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment at this year’s Golden Globes, her speech opened up a new possibility – could Oprah run for President? Her inspiring speech received a standing ovation at the awards ceremony and soon #Oprah2020 went viral on social media.

[Twitter] @Mr_B_2017: She’s got my vote in 2 years. #OprahForPresident #BlackExcellence


3. Padmaavat

After facing protests in India for allegedly tarnishing the honour of Rajputs – a Hindu caste -- the Hindi film Padmaavat finally released in India. However, demonstrations reignited the discussion on violent protests by groups, with social media users questioning why Indian authorities could not control the damage and destruction fringe groups were causing.

[Twitter] @AdityaRajKaul: Look how the Karni Sena goons attacked GD Goenka school bus at Sohna Road of Gurugram as children and teachers took shelter under the seats, crying for help. Bus somehow managed to escape even after much destruction as visible. When will Haryana Govt arrest these cowards?


4. Ice boy and Little Li

The stories of two Chinese boys went viral in two consecutive weeks in January: an eight-year-old was nicknamed ‘Ice Boy’ after pictures of him reaching school covered in ice circulated on social media. Another boy, seven-year-old Li Chang Jiang’s video was posted on video sharing website, Pear video, showing him delivering parcels in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao, caused social media users to react.

[Facebook] Itamar Berna: Where’s the childhood? Hope he can forget this tremendous childhood and someone can help him and other thousand children around the world who are working instead of playing at their young age.

5. 'Shithole countries'

US President Donald Trump became a topic of discussion once again after he was reported calling African countries Haiti and El Salvador “shitholes” during a discussion on a potential immigration deal. The comments were criticised across the board as being racist and the only clarification a White House source issued, according to the Washington Post, was that President Trump had, in fact, used the word “shithouse”

[Twitter] @bridgetmoynahan: I mean, after the shock, disgust and embarrassment, I guess you just have to find ways to laugh at the absurdity that comes out of our President and move forward. #celebrate the #positive

6. #JusticeForZainab

When the case of eight-year-old Zainab Ansari’s rape and murder surfaced from the Pakistani town of Qasur, social media users were shocked. The girl’s photograph went viral and users questioned the police’s apparent lack of action. Later, when her neighbour became the prime accused in the case, it also led to a heated debate on why it took so long to find the suspect.

[Facebook] Omar Suleiman: The way this girl was treated represents the lowest possible state humanity can sink to. This is not just the cruelty of one man, but the passiveness of society in regards to violence against our most vulnerable.

7. Rapes and mutilations in India

Two brutal rapes in India shocked netizens in January – one of a 15-year-old Dalit girl in Haryana and another of a 10-year-old girl in Bihar. #StopRape became a trend on social media, but many questioned: What will it take to end such violence?

[Instagram] d_artsy_lenss: I’m going to ask you two honest questions … 1. “Are you really respecting women and the girl child?” and 2.”Are you really supporting /protecting them and their issues?”

8. Orange passport

Is orange the new blue? The Indian government’s move to change the colour of passports for citizens, based on their socioeconomic background, kicked up a controversy on social media. Many said it would lead to discrimination. Additionally, non-resident Indians were in a fix with the Indian government deciding to do away with the last page of the passport.

[Twitter] @Sa_Beeee: When the whole world is trying to wipe out inequality and trying to treat everyone equally, #India has #NarendraModi who tries to create more and more inequalities each day - the latest example of that is the #saffron coloured passport!

9. Larry Nassar

The #MeToo movement gained momentum again as Former Olympic doctor Larry Nassar was handed a jail sentence of 175 years in Michigan for abusing female athletes he was supposed to be treating. Along with the testimonies of the female athletes, the judgement handed down by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina went viral for its strong words.

[Instagram] sheparla: What a powerful day in court for these women who had the strength to come forward! #larrynassar #175years