As in Saudi Arabia, the UAE sample population is largely composed of early adopters—meaning substantial uptake of digital media.
Males and city dwellers predominated among the internet users ages 16 to 64 polled by GlobalWebIndex in H1 2019 (see note below). Given those skews, it’s not surprising to find high levels of engagement with digital devices and activities.
Even so, it’s interesting to see a substantial gap between the share of internet users owning a smartphone and the share owning a PC: 98.3% vs. 64.3%. Additionally, 39.7% of respondents owned a tablet.
Notwithstanding the disparity in penetration, the time internet users spent with mobile devices accounted for less time than PCs/tablets, at 3 hours, 30 minutes (3:30) and 4:06 per day, respectively. Feature phones, owned by 13.6% of internet users, contributed to that mobile total. It’s notable that the highest penetration of feature phones in the UAE was among individuals living in the top 25% of households, ranked by income, at 20.8%.
The share of internet users owning a smart TV is approaching 40%. Smart TV ownership rose in parallel with age and passed the halfway mark among respondents living in affluent households.
In Q1 2019, male respondents were significantly more likely than females to have listened to broadcast radio or read print press in the month prior to polling. But daily time devoted to print newspapers and magazines was lagging well behind the time spent with online press titles—47 minutes to 1:16 on average, respectively.
A shift to online music consumption has taken place too, at least among younger internet users. Close to three-quarters (74.6%) of internet users in the UAE had streamed music, podcasts or other digital audio content in the prior month, with at least 80% of respondents ages 16 to 34 doing so. Affluents in the top 25% of households, ranked by income, were also keen digital listeners.
The adoption of voice search, another index of digital engagement and maturity, is also worth noting in the UAE. Among total respondents, 43.5% had used voice command tools like Cortana or Siri or activated a smart speaker or other device. Usage was higher among males, 16- to 24-year-olds and those at the top of the income scale.