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UAE Radio Listening Ends 2018 On A High Note

5 minute read | February 2019

Dubai, UAE – Feb. 6, 2019: According to Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, 93% of the total UAE population aged 10 and above tuned into radio every week in the fourth quarter of 2018, which is 4% higher (307,000 listeners) in reach compared to the previous quarter and reaching the same high levels when compared to Q4 2017. UAE residents and nationals listened to 61.5 million hours of radio in this period. The fourth quarter measurement covers all radio listening from 1st October to 31st December 2018.

Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement measures listenership of 53 radio stations across the country among all individuals aged 10+. While quarter 3 results showed that for the hot summer months, with residents traveling out of the country, listening in Dubai and Northern Emirates saw a significant decline, in quarter 4 these Emirates bounce back and much of the growth in listening is seen here.  Abu Dhabi is again the strongest of all the Emirates in the fourth quarter of 2018 with almost universal reach – 99.9% of Abu Dhabi residents listen to radio in an average week. In Dubai 90% of residents listen in an average week, and 85% in Northern Emirates. Sharjah continued to maintain levels similar to that of the previous quarter with an increase of just 1% (Sharjah 92% reach)

Although the listenership for Emirati and Expat Arab nationality groups maintained levels similar to that of the previous quarter, it’s the Filipino (10% growth Q on Q) and South Asian (5% growth Q on Q) nationality groups which have had a significant positive impact on the reach of radio in Q4’18.

With now five reported Nielsen UAE RAM quarters from Q4 2017 to this most recent release, Q4 2018, we have consistently seen continuous levels of listening throughout the day and weekend, as well as unexpected high levels of listening in the late evening.   We see again in these results, listening between 8 p.m.-12 a.m. is higher than at any of the other peak times during the day, giving radio advertisers many more opportunities to reach their target audience through smart radio planning.

It is the first time for Nielsen UAE RAM that the industry can look at year on year comparisons, Q4’17 vs Q4’18. Interestingly the top five radio stations in Q4’17 are still in the top 5 in Q4’18, showing a loyal UAE audience. Overall comparison shows that listenership levels between Q4’17 and Q4’18 remain similar (90% reach in Q4 18 vs 93% reach in Q4 17). There is a slight decline in time spent listening to radio; the average listener in Q4 18 is tuned into radio for nine minutes less per week.  

“We expect the last quarter of the year to be a busy period for all categories and industries as people return to the region after the long summer months and school holidays.  UAE radio has a significant boost in listenership in Q4, in-line with that expectation. With residents enjoying a long weekend holiday for UAE National Day, and arguably the best weather the UAE has to offer in these months, residents are staycation-ing and welcoming family and friends visiting from overseas.” said Sarah Messer, Director Media – Arabian Peninsula and Pakistan, Nielsen. Messer added, “With such a focus on enjoying life in the UAE, it’s not surprising we see radio listening levels jump back up to pre-summer levels, as people are out and about, and taking their favourite radio stations and music with them on their travels.”

“It’s great that after a year of measuring radio audiences, with each new data release we can now look back and compare listenership with the same quarter in the previous year. Seeing trends emerge only strengthens the position of UAE radio as a significant entertainment medium for UAE residents. ”

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