As is the case in most of the world at present, COVID-19 response in most countries globally has included restrictions on movement of residents with calls to stay at home and practice social distancing. This has extended to full day or partial lockdowns in many of these countries and KSA and UAE are no different.
What will differ this year is how residents in these countries experience Ramadan in 2020. Group gatherings like early morning sahour (pre-dawn meal) and iftars (post-sunset fast-breaking meals) as well as daily Taraweh (night prayers) are not possible this year due to the Covid-19 related restrictions on movement.
With these restrictions in place, YouGov’s latest survey looks in to how residents in both KSA and UAE expect their experience of Ramadan 2020 to differ.
The survey reveals that 83% of residents of both countries expect to fast this Ramadan, with KSA residents almost unanimously (98%) indicating that COVID-19 has not impacted their intention to fast (in the UAE it was 68%). In KSA, the intention to fast is consistent across all age groups whilst in the UAE, only 60% of 45+ aged people intend to fast vs 87% of 18-24 year olds.
Apart from intention to fast, behaviour is also seeing some other shifts. Charity work and donations typically see a spike during the Holy month as people reflect on how fortunate they are and think about those less fortunate and dispense of their Zakat (mandatory charitable contribution). This year 66% of UAE and KSA residents expect they will be donating more to charity vs previous years.
There is also an expectation of increased time spent socializing online this Ramadan vs previous years with 69% expecting to spend more time socialising online than last year. We’ve seen Zoom birthday celebrations become common since COVID-19 hit the world and it seems residents of UAE and KSA might see Zoom iftar parties become a reality as 71% of residents expect a decrease in in-person family gatherings. The numbers are more pronounced in KSA vs the UAE.
Naturally being in lockdown also means that people are expecting to be watching more content both online and on TV, including Ramadan shows and series geared to entertain these captive audiences.
YouGov will continue to monitor consumer attitudes and habits through the month of Ramadan to identify any interesting trends or changes.