At the global level and in the Arab world, particularly in low-income countries, COVID-19 remains a major public health issue. As demonstrated by an incredible number of COVID-19-related publications, the research science community responded rapidly. Therefore, this study was intended to assess the growing contribution of the Arab world to global research on COVID-19.
For the period between December 2019 and March 2021, the search for publications was conducted via the Scopus database using terms linked to COVID-19. VOSviewer 1.6.16 software was applied to generate a network map to assess hot topics in this area and determine the collaboration patterns between different countries. Furthermore, the research output of Arab countries was adjusted in relation to population size and gross domestic product (GDP).
A total of 143,975 publications reflecting the global overall COVID-19 research output were retrieved. By restricting analysis to the publications published by the Arab countries, the research production was 6131 documents, representing 4.26% of the global research output regarding COVID-19. Of all these publications, 3990 (65.08%) were original journal articles, 980 (15.98%) were review articles, 514 (8.38%) were letters and 647 (10.55%) were others, such as editorials or notes. The highest number of COVID-19 publications was published by Saudi Arabia (n = 2186, 35.65%), followed by Egypt (n = 1281, 20.78%) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), (n = 719, 11.73%). After standardization by population size and GDP, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Lebanon had the highest publication productivity. The collaborations were mostly with researchers from the United States (n = 968), followed by the United Kingdom (n = 661). The main research lines identified in COVID-19 from the Arab world are related to: public health and epidemiology; immunological and pharmaceutical research; signs, symptoms and clinical diagnosis; and virus detection.
A novel analysis of the latest Arab COVID-19-related studies is discussed in the current study and how these findings are connected to global production. Continuing and improving future collaboration between developing and developed countries will also help to facilitate the sharing of responsibilities for COVID-19 in research results and the implementation of policies for COVID-19.