Dubai: Use of Google search engine in the Mena region has gone up 25 per cent in 2011 from the previous year due to the increasing percentage of internet penetration, an official at the internet company said.

"Searches per day in Mena are up 25 per cent due to internet growth," said Maha Abouelenein, head of communication in Mena. "More people are coming online now, more people have internet access, there's more broadband growth so the more the people online the more the searches," Maha told Gulf News, without giving any specific figures of either year.

Web trend

With nearly one billion searches per day on Google in 146 languages including Arabic, there is growing interest in local content by internet users in the Arab region, according to an annual report released by Google yesterday. Job vacancies, uprisings in the Arab countries, as well as online selling and buying are among the top queries.

"Dubai" and "Etisalat" are listed among the top 25 search sites in the UAE, noted the Zeitgeist Google report. Facebook and "Hafiz" (a Saudi Ministry of Labour website that helps job seekers) tops the search list in Saudi Arabia. Arab satellite channels Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya also ranked quite high in Saudi Arabia. These local searches were interspersed with regular hits for YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Google noted in a press statement.

However, in Egypt, topics relating to the January 25 uprising came at the top of the list of queries. For instance, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, January 25 revolution and Tahrir Square were the top search words. "It reflects the developments in the Middle East," Maha commented on the trend of the searches.

"It is fascinating to see the trend and what people are looking for."

Egypt is the second country in terms of the number of search queries after Saudi Arabia. The UAE is the third fastest growing country in terms of search queries.