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Continuum: Summer Lull Fails To Dampen UAE Radio Listening

5 minute read | November 2018


Dubai, UAE – November 5, 2018: According to Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, 89% of the total UAE population aged 10 and above tuned into radio every week in third-quarter of 2018, which is 2% fewer (221,000 listeners) in reach compared to the previous quarter. The third quarter measurement covers all radio listening from 1st July to 30th September 2018, coinciding with the UAE’s hottest months of the year, long Eid al Adha celebrations, and school holidays, which easily explain the slight decline in listenership.

Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement, which measures listenership to 53 radio stations across the country among all individuals aged 10+, also revealed that, although most nationality groups showed a drop in listening levels due to summer vacations, Expat Arabs saw a growth of 2% in comparison to the previous quarter. Additionally, reflecting the high listening levels from Emiratis seen in the previous quarter, Q3 radio measurement witnessed a consistent reach in listenership among the Emiratis (100%), tuning in for 7 hours and 8 minutes each week. Reach of radio is also high among the Expat Arabs at 100% and Westerners at 96%, with them tuning in for 7 hours and 39 minutes and 6 hours and 46 minutes a week respectively.

Radio reach continues to vary by location. Abu Dhabi, yet again, overtook all Emirates in the third-quarter 2018 as the location where radio is most popular (Abu Dhabi 99% reach, versus Sharjah 91% reach, and Dubai 83% reach). While Abu Dhabi and Sharjah witnessed the same number of listeners tuning into radio on a weekly basis as previous quarters, Dubai saw a decline of 7% in average weekly audiences.

Given almost three-quarters of the Dubai population comprises Non-Arab Expats, of which the majority look to travel during the summer break, we can understand why the Dubai listening levels are lower in Q3. Despite this decline, Dubai continues to remain a very strong hub for radio listening with 2.4 million listeners tuning in every week during the third quarter of the year.

Throughout all reported quarters to date, Nielsen found that there are consistently three peak listening times on weekdays (between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.). A surprising learning has been the high level of engagement with radio occurring much later in the day. In the third quarter, radio consumption between 8 p.m.-12 a.m. was higher than any of the other peak times during the day. The high level of engagement with radio during this time was primarily steered by listeners in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and are mainly aged 24-44 years.

Radio continues to have the greatest reach among higher income earners. Of the higher tier income levels, social class AB (earning AED 30,000 or more per month) and class C1 (earning AED 10,000 – 30,000 per month), there is almost universal penetration, reaching 98% and 91% of these listeners respectively. Radio has a lower reach amongst the lowest monthly income levels, social class DE, however, is still listened to by 82% of this demographic group.

“The summer months in the Gulf region are particularly difficult for many industries as residents travel overseas to escape the desert heat and take advantage of long school holidays, and tourists come in lesser numbers. Marketing budgets shrink in this time, and people’s behaviour with media changes. Our Q3 2018 RAM results demonstrate the challenges with this period – listening is down and Dubai with its heavy expat population, receives the most significant hit. Despite this impact, we still see high levels of listening with 54.3 million hours of radio listened to across all seven Emirates in an average week, and with listeners each tuning in for an average of 7 hours 18 minutes every week,” said Sarah Messer, Director Media – Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, Nielsen. Messer added, “Despite the traveling UAE population in these months, radio in the country is resilient and clearly a go-to medium for UAE media audiences.”

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

ABOUT UAE RADIO AUDIENCE MEASUREMENT (RAM) UAE RAM starts with a strong foundation of a continuous Establishment Survey, which now consists of 23,920 face to face interviews across all seven emirates in the UAE. The Establishment Survey enables Nielsen to determine population dynamics and ensure its collection of radio data is balanced and representative. A "hybrid diary" methodology is used for the research, introducing both a traditional paper diary and an innovative electronic diary to respondents, to measure robust information on radio listening. Every quarter, 2,100 people aged 10 and above, representing all nationalities and languages across the emirates are asked to record their radio listening activities for seven consecutive days. They record their listening in 15-minute time-slots for the entire week in their chosen diary format. Nielsen’s UAE RAM data covers a range of demographic and lifestyle insights which can be combined with all the radio-listening behaviour metrics captured, including household demography, program ranking, time spent listening, device used for listening, place of listening, ebb and flow reports and station loyalty. High-quality media currencies around the world are audited, and Nielsen’s UAE RAM is no exception, being audited by professional services firm PwC. PwC’s audience measurement team monitors Nielsen’s measurement activities closely and examines the methodology Nielsen uses to prepare the UAE RAM offering and provides independent assurance over the application of the methodology in calculating and reporting the UAE RAM data. For more information on UAE RAM, visit



Zizie Wahid