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The Reach of Radio is Growing Among UAE Population

4 minute read | May 2018



Dubai, UAE – May 2, 2018: According to Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company, 95% of the total UAE population aged 10 and above tuned into radio every week in first-quarter 2018, which is a 2% increase (135,000 listeners) in reach compared to the previous quarter. Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement, which measures listenership for 52 radio stations across the country among all individuals aged 10+, also revealed that this growth is seen predominantly in 25-44 year olds and is driven by residents in Abu Dhabi and the Northern Emirates. Dubai also remains a very strong radio hub for listening.

Interestingly, of all the different nationalities in the UAE, the growth in radio listening in first-quarter 2018 from the previous quarter was highest among Filipinos, Iranians and Afghans, which is in line with listenership to stations broadcasting in these languages.

Although there are three peak listening times on weekdays (between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.), people in the UAE have a tendency to listen to the radio much later in the day, which is contrary to popular belief. Nielsen identified this trend in the fourth-quarter 2017 survey, and found this tendency to be even stronger in the first-quarter 2018 data, where the cumulative reach of radio listeners increased between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (8,000 more early evening listeners) and 8 p.m.-12 a.m. (27,000 more late night listeners). The high level of engagement with radio during this time was mainly led by listening in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which are considered 24-hour cities. These nighttime listeners are  largely aged 24-44 and are more likely to be on the move, out and about catching up with family and friends.

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% of these listeners respectively. Radio has a slightly lower reach amongst the lowest monthly income levels, social class DE, however is still listened to by 89% of them. Aside from various income categories, radio reach and time spent listening also varies by location. Abu Dhabi, which previously recorded the same reach for listenership as Sharjah, overtook all Emirates in first-quarter 2018 as the location where radio is most popular (Abu Dhabi 98% reach, versus Sharjah 95% reach, and Dubai 92% reach).

“From the results, it is evident that as a medium, radio remains exceptionally strong in the UAE, despite the increasing influence of digital mediums in the country. We have found very high levels of listening with 66.2 million hours of radio listened to across all seven Emirates in an average week, and with listeners each tuning in for an average of 8 hours 25 minutes every week,” said Sarah Messer, Director Media – Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, Nielsen. Messer added, “With such a marked increase in the reach of radio in the late evenings, it’s possible that UAE residents have been taking advantage of the cooler winter evenings to spend more time out of their home.”


The UAE RAM started with an Establishment Survey of 17,000 face to face interviews across all seven emirates in the UAE to enable Nielsen to determine population dynamics and ensure its collection of radio data would be balanced and representative. A ‘hybrid diary’ methodology was 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. Nielsen’s UAE RAM is audited by professional services firm PwC. High quality media currencies around the world are audited. PwC’s audience measurement team monitors Nielsen activities closely and examine the methodology used in preparing the UAE RAM offering and provide independent assurance over the application of the methodology in calculating and reporting the UAE RAM data. For more information on UAE RAM, visit  


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