The connected consumer in Egypt, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia: new data and insights

June 2015

How do Egypt, UAE, and Saudi residents use the internet? Which, and how many, devices do they use to get online? And how do they use these devices to interact with traditional media like television? Google and TNS Infratest conducted a survey of consumers in 57 countries around the world to develop a better understanding of media markets and infrastructures. What follows are the main takeaways from the study.


Number of internet-enabled devices

In the UAE, each adult has an average of 2.8 internet-enabled devices. In Saudi Arabia it’s 2, and in Egypt the average is 0.9. While 20% of Egyptians have at least two connected devices, in Saudi Arabia the average is 52%, and in the UAE it’s a huge majority of consumers at 71%.

Smartphone vs. tablet

Of those surveyed in the UAE, 78% use a smartphone and 33% use a tablet. Meanwhile in Saudi Arabia, 77% use a smartphone and 23% use a tablet. In Egypt the breakdown is 23% on smartphone and just 1% on tablet. Those who consume digital media on a smartphone, tablet and PC – triple screeners – are most prevalent in the UAE (28%), followed by Saudi Arabia (13%) and Egypt (less than 1%).

Percentage of population that’s online

Of the adult population over age 16 surveyed in Egypt, 37% is online. In Saudi Arabia the figure is 88%, while in the UAE 91% of adults are online.

Accessing the internet

In many cases, the smartphone emerges as the main method for using the internet. In fact, 64% of respondents in Saudi Arabia reveal they access the internet more frequently on smartphone than on their computer (in Egypt it’s 14% and in the UAE 42%). What’s more, some people only access the internet via smartphone: 34% in Saudi Arabia, 15% in the UAE, and 8% in Egypt.

Online activities

Popular online activities include listening to music (Egypt 68%, Saudi Arabia 91%, UAE 78%) and playing games (Egypt 50%, Saudi Arabia 80%, UAE 58%). At 42%, making product purchases by smartphone is more common in Saudi Arabia than in the UAE (at 35%) or Egypt (2%). Watching YouTube is a hugely popular activity across the region – in Saudi Arabia 95% of the population uses the platform at least once a month, compared to 79% in Egypt, and 78% in the UAE.

TV & the internet

How does this measure up against the consumption of traditional media? Television remains popular, with 98% of Egyptians, 98% of Saudis, and 89% of Emiratis consuming media in this way. But in this context, there’s still ample room for internet-enabled TV, used by 1% of Egyptians, 27% of Saudis, and 29% of Emiratis.

TV doesn’t absorb the entirety of viewers’ attention however. Many users connect to the internet while watching TV (17% in Egypt and 51% in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE). Viewers commonly look at internet content that does not relate to the TV program they are watching; this is true for 63% of users in Egypt and 72% in both Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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