Behold: The world's largest gummy bear, face mask and birthday party
We asked Culture & Trends Manager Abdu Hussein about the latest trend sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Abdu Hussein is the Culture & Trends Manager for YouTube in MENA. He's a former Cairo-based journalist who wrote for the Guardian and Huffington Post, amongst others.
Fun facts: Abdu is a musician who segued from years of guitar-playing to laptop-driven electronic music. He's also an avid supporter of Arsenal football club, a fact which hasn't been kind to him in recent years. He's recently become a new dad and that is where the fun really starts.
1. What's the trend?
Abdu: “We are seeing a trend that has become known as ‘I made the biggest... .’
Creators attempt to make the biggest possible version of something — usually food — but that has evolved to include all sorts of other items. It's a spin-off of big food trends that have long been popular on the platform, but it caught a second wind in MENA due to the pandemic. There is also an offshoot to this trend that operates in the virtual space, where gaming creators boast of certain achievements in various virtual realms, such as ‘I made the biggest alliance in Fortnite’ or ‘I made the biggest birthday party in the Sims 4.’”
2. What stats speak to the trend's breakout growth?
Views of videos with Arabic variations of “I made the biggest” in the title earned 90M views in MENA countries last year -- a 400% increase from the year prior.*
3. What's fueling the trend, and what lessons can be drawn from the trend?
“This trend was initially fuelled by the region's love of food and very natural experimentation that evolved in that space. But this latest iteration was driven by a combination of more time spent at home last year — this format naturally lends itself well to at-home experimentation — and a wave of creative ingenuity from a new generation of creators in MENA, such as Asoo اسو and DIY by Shada. But the popularity of such videos by Arab creators isn’t necessarily confined to those in the region. The most popular video in this trend is by U.S. based Jordanian creator Ayatee, who melted 2,000 gummy bears in an attempt to make the largest one.
There’s also a specific cultural relevance to this trend, rooted as it is in the notion that making anything bigger automatically makes it better, a concept that remains very much in vogue in MENA (e.g., think the tallest building in the world being in Dubai, and the soon-to-be world's largest archaeological museum currently being built in Cairo). But also, expanding an everyday item resets one’s perspective to create a sense of novelty, as when Moroccan creator Soukaina made a giant face mask for her car.
This phenomenon demonstrates that trends are cyclical, and their recycling by later generations of creators brings new iterations to a theme. It also serves as a useful snapshot of a particular era in digital culture, putting the context for these trends in a specific time and place.”
* Source: YouTube data, MENA, January - December, 2020 vs January - December, 2019. Videos with "صنعت اكبر" , "صنعت أكبر”, "سويت اكبر" or "سويت أكبر" (translation: variations of "I made the biggest") in the title.