Languages for Watching Films

Films, more so than other media, are consumed in a variety of languages. While people in the region are most likely to watch films in Arabic, this does not preclude them from watching in English or other languages. Three-quarters of those who watch films see films in Arabic, although a majority also watches films in English (56%). Arabic viewing is especially marked in Egypt and Tunisia (96% vs. 93%), and is almost as high in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia (89% vs. 83%), but it is much less common in the UAE and Qatar (52% vs. 50%) where there are higher expat populations. About eight in ten nationals and Arab expats in Qatar watch films in Arabic, compared to one in ten non-Arab expats who do so. The Arab and non-Arab distinction is even more pronounced in the UAE where almost all nationals and Arab expats watch films in Arabic, while almost no non-Arab expats watch in Arabic.

English is cited more often than Arabic as the language of choice for watching films in Qatar, where three-quarters of those who watch films see them in English (76%), and even more so in the UAE (79%). People in these countries watch films in English regardless of nationality – seven in ten nationals and Arab expats watch films in English in Qatar, as do eight in ten Arabs in the UAE.

While Arabic-language films dominate in Lebanon and Tunisia, films in English are much more popular than French in Lebanon (67% vs. 10%) and as popular as French in Tunisia (44% vs. 47%).

Overall, non-Arabic expats far prefer films in English, with very few of them – less than one in ten – watching films in Arabic. Arabic is (naturally) the language of choice for watching films among those of Arabic origin, but three-fourths of Arabic expats overall and nearly half of country nationals also watch films in English (75% and 46%, respectively). There is a strong preference for Hindi-language films among the Indian population in the region (81%).