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Radio Listening in the UAE Increased During Ramadan Accounting for 42% of Listening Through Q2 2018

5 minute read | August 2018

Dubai, UAE – Aug. 7, 2018: Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, today revealed that radio listening increased for some nationalities throughout the four weeks of Ramadan, accounting for 42% of all radio listening in the second quarter.

Interestingly, according to Nielsen’s second-quarter UAE Radio Audience Measurement (UAE RAM), which was conducted from April 1 to June 30, 2018, much of this increase in listening during Ramadan was seen among Indians and South Asians, and people aged 25-39 years old, while listening levels for Emiratis and Expat Arabs dropped during the Ramadan weeks compared with other weeks within the quarter (32% reach during non-Ramadan weeks to 25% reach in Ramadan). Given that all residents within the UAE have shorter working hours during Ramadan, it’s interesting to see that mostly non-fasting nationalities turn to radio for their entertainment in their additional spare time.

Measuring the whole UAE population’s listenership to 51 radio stations across the country, Nielsen’s UAE RAM found that listening to religious stations during Ramadan started to peak later in the day (2 p.m. to 10 p.m.) compared with the non-Ramadan period. In other quarters and during the non-Ramadan weeks in Q2, the amount of listening occurring in the early morning from 6 a.m. onward was much higher. The peak time of listening during this Holy Month takes on a different shape, with a dip in reach levels around 7 p.m., coinciding with Iftar timings and the norm of breaking fast with family and friends at home. Listening levels starts to rise again later in the evening between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., as people tend to head out after Iftar for prayers and Suhr.

Looking at the entire second-quarter, radio reached 92% of the UAE population, a slight decline from the previous quarter (95%). This is most likely due to many residents travelling out of the country for the schools’ Spring break in the first few weeks of April, as well as during Ramadan and Eid al Fitr holidays.

Despite the decline in reach versus the previous quarter, engagement with radio remains exceptionally high with 61.2 million hours of radio listened to across all seven emirates in an average week, with listeners tuning in for an average of 8 hours each week.

Radio listenership continues to vary by location, with the latest quarter results reporting a slightly lower reach in Dubai (90% vs 92%) and Sharjah (91% vs 95%); a total of 177,000 listeners lesser compared to Q1 2018 whilst Abu Dhabi has seen a small increase, reaching 20,000 more listeners, and is still the location where radio is most popular compared to the other Emirates in terms of reach. Listeners in Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates region which includes Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah, clock in 9 hours tuning into radio in an average week, while listening activity in Abu Dhabi remains lower at an average of 6 hours a week.

“While the Ramadan specific data will not be available at a wider level to preserve the full dataset’s representation of the whole UAE population, we have been analysing closely the changes recorded in the radio diaries throughout the four-week period. From many other studies, we know that people’s behaviour overall, and especially in relation to media consumption, changes considerably during Ramadan, as fasting and prayer times take on a renewed significance—typical behaviour is turned on its head for those observing the Holy Month. The radio listening patterns we see emerging certainly reflect this,” said Sarah Messer, Director Media—Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, Nielsen. Messer added, “Although there is a dip in listening at an overall level, it is in the context of very healthy radio consumption, with drops in listenership that are in-line with expectations when audience behaviour is considered.”

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) The second-quarter UAE Radio Audience Measurement was conducted from April 1 to June 30, 2018 measuring listenership for 51 radio stations across the country. This the first time the industry can see the impact of the Holy Month of Ramadan on radio listening. Nielsen’s UAE RAM is based on a significant Establishment Survey to understand UAE population dynamics. As of Q2 2018 the Establishment Survey sample size is 27,000 face to face interviews across all seven emirates in the UAE, the largest survey of its kind to determine the country’s unique population characteristics. This ensures our collection of radio data is highly 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