More than 4 in 5 (81%) of Saudi Arabian citizens are confident that the Kingdom will recover from the global COVID-19 pandemic more quickly than other countries in the region, according to new research from APCO Worldwide.
“As the strongest economy in the Middle East and the chair and host country of the 2020 G20 summit, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has an important role to play in restoring regional economic growth post coronavirus,” said Liam Clarke, managing director, Saudi Arabia for APCO Worldwide. “Our research shows that Saudis recognise this and are confident in the country’s ability to recover from the pandemic, but are split on the Government’s response.”
APCO’s study, conducted between 2-5 April 2020, asked over 500 Saudi citizens from major population centres within the Kingdom their opinions on the impact of COVID-19 in the Middle East and the Government’s response to the pandemic.
Actions taken by the Government include closing malls, implementing curfews to limit gatherings and introducing a $34.4 billion stimulus package to support the national economy. A recent Royal Decree by King Salman also announced an additional $2.4 billion is already available to pay part of the wages of private-sector workers to deter companies from laying off staff during the pandemic.
A majority of respondents (76%) also indicated they believe the economic changes and reforms within the Kingdom in recent years have put the country in a better position to recover quickly to the widespread impact of COVID-19 than other nations in the region. Additionally, 58% said they would like to see the Kingdom help regional neighbors rebuild their economies after the pandemic, even countries who are not traditional allies of the Kingdom.
The survey also asked Saudi citizens about their spending habits as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. 40% indicated they are making fewer purchases than before the outbreak, but 39% said they are spending more during the pandemic—with a bulk of their increased spending on essential items, like food. Respondents were also split looking forward, with 41% indicating they would wait before returning to past buying behaviour, and 40% saying they would immediately return to purchasing as they have in the past.
Many Saudis also support increased spending from the Government as a result of the pandemic, with 48% of citizens indicating that cities should invest in resources to ensure they are well prepared to deal with future pandemics, opposed to only 28% who view the COVID-19 outbreak as a reason to slow growth and urban expansion.
With the COVID-19 pandemic creating unprecedented social and economic upheaval globally, APCO Worldwide is helping organisations navigate the immediate crisis and mitigate the longer-term effects for businesses, communities and governments. Additional coronavirus resources, including the findings of this study and additional opinion research is available at: https://apcoworldwide.com/coronavirus/.