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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 January 2019

Bollywood, cricket and tax: Google reveals UAE's top searches of 2018

Indian film stars Sridevi Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra both feature in Google's top ten

The death of Bollywood actress Sridevi in Dubai was the third-most searched Google entry in the UAE this year. Danish Siddiqui / Reuters
The death of Bollywood actress Sridevi in Dubai was the third-most searched Google entry in the UAE this year. Danish Siddiqui / Reuters

Google's top searches of the year is more than a simple list. The top ten reflects the concerns, hopes and aspirations of the people who use the search engine and it can even point to the future.

And 2018's list is food for thought. Bollywood and football dominate the trends, with this year's World Cup claiming top spot. The tournament was held in Russia and saw France triumph over a spirited Croatian side.

Cricket-mad UAE netizens handed the Indian Premier League the second-most searched for term, while Bollywood also featured strongly.

Sridevi Kapoor was the third-most searched entry. Known simply as Sridevi, she was one of India's top film actresses and died of accidental drowning in her bathtub at Emirates Towers hotel in Dubai this February. She was was just 54. Sridevi was followed in fourth place by another Bollywood superstar, Priyanka Chopra. Chopra is one of India's highest-paid stars and her recent marriage to American pop star Nick Jonas will have played a role in her search position.

The Passport Index came in fifth and this should be no surprise. The Emirati passport has surged up the rankings this year and is now the world's most powerful passport according to the index, which ranks the document based on the number of countries a holder can enter without a visa or by obtaining one on arrival. UAE passport holders can now travel to to 167 countries without the need for any pre-visa paperwork.

Google compiles the lists based on search terms that had the highest spike in 2018 when compared with the previous year. It also compiles other lists from culture to public figures.

In terms of cinema, the American superhero story Black Panther was 2018's most searched for movie, followed by Avengers Infinity War and Indian thriller Race 3.

Turning to those in the public eye, Meghan Markle was the most-searched for public figure of the year. The American actress married the UK's Prince Harry in May this year in a lavish ceremony at Windsor Castle and her appearance at the top of Google's public figure charts shows the enduring but inexplicable interest in the British royal family.

Markle was followed by Nick Jonas, boosted no doubt by his marriage to Chopra, while in third place was Logan Paul. Paul is something of an internet celebrity but became embroiled in an unseemly controversy at the start of the year. YouTube cut business ties with Paul after he posted a video showing the body of an apparent suicide victim in Japan.

Despite Egypt's poor showing at the World Cup, the team's star Mohamed Salah shone bright and he came seventh on the public figure list.

Other popular searches during the year included Bitcoin, the hugely popular online game Fornite and the Indian currency rate.

And finally, the Federal Tax Authority came in eighth on the list of most searched for terms - reflecting the landmark introduction of VAT across the UAE on January 1 and the concern felt by all people about their finances and their future.

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