Porn in the Middle East-Elephant in the Room; By William Smith

There was a time when finding pornography in the Arab world meant going to a shady side-street VHS tape vendor, casting a furtive glance over one’s shoulder, and casually enquiring as to whether there were any “cultural” films on sale. 

But while people may publically express their aversion and opposition to Internet pornography, their private viewing habits suggest something quite different. Put simply, porn is BIG in the Arab world. According toGoogle AdWords, the 22 Arab states account for over 10% of the world’s searches for “sex”; A total of 55.4 million unique monthly Google “sex” searchers in the 22 (ignoring a further 24 million searches for “sex” transliterated into Arabic) that matches both the United States and India, two countries often cited as world leaders in porn consumption.

What is even more striking is that, when these numbers are adjusted to reflect people’s ready access to the Internet (which ranges from 85% of the population in the UAE to just 1.4% in Somalia) Arab Google searches for “sex” outweigh those from almost anywhere else worldwide. As per AdWords, for every 100 Arab Internet users, an average of 52 searches are made each month, compared to 21 in the United States, 36 in India, 45 in France and 47 in Pakistan.

It also seems to be the case that viewing porn in the region is not simply big in absolute terms, but also relatively to all other things people search. Data obtained from the Internet analytics company Alexa shows that adult-themed sites account for seven of the 100 most visited websites in the US, a figure that is trumped by at least six Arab states – Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. Meanwhile, Google Trends, which shows how many searches for a particular keyword are made relative to all searches on Google, suggests that people in the region are more likely to search for “sex” than almost anywhere else in the world, with the exception of the Indian Sub-Continent.

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Posted By F. Sheikh