A television monitor displays BuzzFeed content in the company’s office in New York. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters
A television monitor displays BuzzFeed content in the company’s office in New York. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Middle East all abuzz over Arabic version of news website BuzzFeed

Visits to the social news website BuzzFeed could soon take on a more local flavour as the company eyes “real opportunities” in the Middle East according to an executive.

The website recently launched versions in French, Spanish and Portuguese and is considering other languages, including Arabic, as part of its growth strategy.

“There is such exciting energy coming out of Abu Dhabi. I am surprised to hear how popular it is here, being in English,” said Jonathan Perelman, vice-president of agency strategy at BuzzFeed. “I’m excited to go back to New York given how much of a positive buzz and love there has been about BuzzFeed. There is a real, significant opportunity in the region [and] we can create content that would be of more interest to the people of this region.”

The website has 85 million unique visitors to the site a month, of which just over half access it via mobile phones.

Some 70 per cent of BuzzFeed’s traffic comes through via social media, with users clicking on links shared by their friends. Growth in the region has been “surprising and steady”, with users in Saudi Arabia ranking among one of top three countries for its video stories.

Most people associate the website with humorous picture stories and lists from things such as “weird things you never realised other people do” to “the 50 most ‘90s things that have happened”, which includes a picture of a Windows 95 video guide.

“Great content finds itself a new audience, without the need to target them,” said Mr Perelman. “This is what happens based on what the content is. People share content online for two reasons: one is to share content to form a community and the other is to make yourself look good or make you look smart and funny like you understand what is happening today. That goes beyond borders and languages,” said Mr Perelman.

But the site also has a more serious, news-focused side. It employs more than 130 journalists around the world to write about politics and business.

“We do the breaking political content and we have that serious news, what we call the nutritious content and then we have the delicious content, the cat memes and funny lists, which does drive better traffic,” said Mr Perelman.

About two thirds of the traffic heads to the “delicious” side, keen to get a daily fix of humour and “omg”.

“It is starting to even out and move. People are drawn in for the light-hearted fair and then read the more serious stuff,” said Mr Perelman.

The company was started up six years ago and the website was launched two-and-a-half years ago.

“Today you have the notion of the feed and that has changed everything. On Facebook, you have pictures of your niece and nephew, then beneath that someone talking about what’s happening in Syria and beneath that someone talking about a football match. We want to see content that we care about, humans like variety and consume all kinds of content at the same time,” said Mr Perelman.

“Content is about identity and what you’re going to share with friends. Those two ways of thinking about content is the way that we will continue growth,” he added.

Profiting from the content and digital advertising has become a critical issue for all social media networks as traditional banner ads increasingly become ineffective.

Twitter has revealed it is experimenting with personalised and tailored feeds for its users in a bid to diversify its revenue streams.

“Today you’re more likely to summit Mount Everest than click on a banner ad. About 50 per cent of clicks on banner ads on mobile phones are what we call fat finger mistakes. There is a notion of native advertising. People come to BuzzFeed not for ads, but content and if the ad can be as creative as the content, the onus and challenge is on us to make compelling, branded content,” said Mr Perelman.


UAE medallists at Asian Games 2023

Magomedomar Magomedomarov – Judo – Men’s +100kg
Khaled Al Shehi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Faisal Al Ketbi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Asma Al Hosani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -52kg
Shamma Al Kalbani – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -63kg
Omar Al Marzooqi – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Bishrelt Khorloodoi – Judo – Women’s -52kg
Khalid Al Blooshi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -62kg
Mohamed Al Suwaidi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -69kg
Balqees Abdulla – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -48kg
Hawraa Alajmi – Karate – Women’s kumite -50kg
Ahmed Al Mansoori – Cycling – Men’s omnium
Abdullah Al Marri – Equestrian – Individual showjumping
Team UAE – Equestrian – Team showjumping
Dzhafar Kostoev – Judo – Men’s -100kg
Narmandakh Bayanmunkh – Judo – Men’s -66kg
Grigorian Aram – Judo – Men’s -90kg
Mahdi Al Awlaqi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -77kg
Saeed Al Kubaisi – Jiu-jitsu – Men’s -85kg
Shamsa Al Ameri – Jiu-jitsu – Women’s -57kg

Zodi & Tehu: Princes Of The Desert

Director: Eric Barbier

Starring: Youssef Hajdi, Nadia Benzakour, Yasser Drief

Rating: 4/5

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

THE BIO: Martin Van Almsick

Hometown: Cologne, Germany

Family: Wife Hanan Ahmed and their three children, Marrah (23), Tibijan (19), Amon (13)

Favourite dessert: Umm Ali with dark camel milk chocolate flakes

Favourite hobby: Football

Breakfast routine: a tall glass of camel milk


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Know your Camel lingo

The bairaq is a competition for the best herd of 50 camels, named for the banner its winner takes home

Namoos - a word of congratulations reserved for falconry competitions, camel races and camel pageants. It best translates as 'the pride of victory' - and for competitors, it is priceless

Asayel camels - sleek, short-haired hound-like racers

Majahim - chocolate-brown camels that can grow to weigh two tonnes. They were only valued for milk until camel pageantry took off in the 1990s

Millions Street - the thoroughfare where camels are led and where white 4x4s throng throughout the festival

Strait of Hormuz

Fujairah is a crucial hub for fuel storage and is just outside the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe, North America and beyond.

The strait is 33 km wide at its narrowest point, but the shipping lane is just three km wide in either direction. Almost a fifth of oil consumed across the world passes through the strait.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the strait, a move that would risk inviting geopolitical and economic turmoil.

Last month, Iran issued a new warning that it would block the strait, if it was prevented from using the waterway following a US decision to end exemptions from sanctions for major Iranian oil importers.


Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

Name: Peter Dicce

Title: Assistant dean of students and director of athletics

Favourite sport: soccer

Favourite team: Bayern Munich

Favourite player: Franz Beckenbauer

Favourite activity in Abu Dhabi: scuba diving in the Northern Emirates 



Anthony Joshua v Otto Wallin, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Deontay Wilder v Joseph Parker, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Dmitry Bivol v Lyndon Arthur, 12 rounds, light heavyweight

Daniel Dubois v Jarrell Miller, 12 rounds, heavyweight

Filip Hrgovic v Mark de Mori, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Arslanbek Makhmudov v Agit Kabayel, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Frank Sanchez v Junior Fa, 12 rounds, heavyweight 

Jai Opetaia v Ellis Zorro, 12 rounds, cruiserweight

Directed by: Craig Gillespie

Starring: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Joel Fry


The specs

Engine: 2.3-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 299hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 420Nm at 2,750rpm
Transmission: 10-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 12.4L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh157,395 (XLS); Dh199,395 (Limited)


Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5

The specs

Powertrain: Single electric motor
Power: 201hp
Torque: 310Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Battery: 53kWh lithium-ion battery pack (GS base model); 70kWh battery pack (GF)
Touring range: 350km (GS); 480km (GF)
Price: From Dh129,900 (GS); Dh149,000 (GF)
On sale: Now

Ultra processed foods

- Carbonated drinks, sweet or savoury packaged snacks, confectionery, mass-produced packaged breads and buns 

- margarines and spreads; cookies, biscuits, pastries, cakes, and cake mixes, breakfast cereals, cereal and energy bars;

- energy drinks, milk drinks, fruit yoghurts and fruit drinks, cocoa drinks, meat and chicken extracts and instant sauces

- infant formulas and follow-on milks, health and slimming products such as powdered or fortified meal and dish substitutes,

- many ready-to-heat products including pre-prepared pies and pasta and pizza dishes, poultry and fish nuggets and sticks, sausages, burgers, hot dogs, and other reconstituted meat products, powdered and packaged instant soups, noodles and desserts.

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024


Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).

Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).


Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).


Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Most Read
Top Videos