Music

Similar to 2014, over eight in 10 nationals say they listen to music for entertainment (85% in 2016 and 82% in 2014). More Lebanese and Tunisians listen to music than other nationalities—about nine in 10 for both years—and about six in 10 respondents from both of these countries listen daily. However, barely half of Qataris listen to music (53% in 2014 and 55% in 2016) and only one-quarter listen daily (27% in both years). Similarly, only one in three Emiratis listen to music every day.  

The youngest nationals (18-24) are more likely than older respondents to listen to music at all, to listen more often, to listen to more genres, and to discuss music more online. Accessing music through multiple platforms, including digitally, is also more common among younger adults, while older adults rely more on TV.

Most internet users stream music online. Three-quarters of internet users listen to music online in general and nearly one in three listen daily (78% and 31%). Tunisians are most likely to listen to online music daily (52%), while fewer Lebanese and Saudis stream music online every day (22% of each nationality).

Younger nationals listen to music online more than older nationals. Nine in 10 18 to 24 year-olds listen to music online in general and nearly half listen daily (46%) compared the oldest group (45+), of whom half listen online generally and only 10% listen daily. 

TV is the most common platform for listening to music across the region, with three in four nationals watching music videos on TV. Music videos are very popular in all countries, except fewer than half of nationals access music on TV in Qatar and the UAE (20% and 41%).

Overall, four in 10 nationals listen to music on the radio, ranging from about one-quarter of nationals in Egypt and Saudi Arabia to half of Emiratis and Tunisians.

Nearly half of those who listen to music access it online at least some of the time (47%). This is fairly consistent across countries, yet ranges from 38% in Tunisia to 64% in the UAE. Emiratis are more likely than other nationals to listen to music on a phone (64%), while listening to music on a phone is least common among Egyptians and Tunisians (23% and 26%).  

Older nationals are far less likely than younger respondents to access music digitally. Of those who listen to music, only 18% of those 45 years and older access music online. This proportion increases to 43% and 57% among the two middle age groups and rises to two-thirds (65%) of the youngest group (18-24). Similarly, the youngest nationals (18-24) are over three times more likely than the oldest group (45+) to listen to music on a phone (49% vs. 14%). All age groups use TV to access music more than any other source, ranging from 72% to 80% across age groups. The oldest adults (45+) are less diverse in their music habits, relying more heavily on traditional sources such as TV and radio.

Preferences for sources of music vary by education level. Only 8% of primary-educated nationals listen to music online, compared to over half of respondents with at least a university education (62%). The least educated, on the other hand, are more likely to listen to music on TV (85% vs. 69% university or more).

Interest in English music decreases with age. Younger nationals are the most likely age group to listen to music in English, 45% in both 2014 and 2016. This contrasts with only one-third of 25 to 34 year-olds and one-quarter of 35 to 44 year-olds listening in English (35% and 23%). Only 11% of those 45 years and older listen to English-language music, down slightly from 17% in 2014.

Nationals with at least a university education are most likely to listen to music—and use any other media—in English. The proportion listening to English-language music rises from 6% of the least-educated nationals to 45% of the most-educated nationals.

While the overall proportion declined slightly since 2014, most nationals still listen to music from their own country, except Qataris and Saudis. Qataris’ interest in national music is low, but rising (40% in 2016 vs. 32% in 2014). The share of Saudis who listen to Saudi music fell sharply (55% in 2016 vs. 85% in 2014). Over 70% of nationals in each country listen to music from across different Arab countries, except for Egyptians, who listen almost exclusively to Egyptian music.

Western music is not popular in these Arab countries. Less than one in five nationals listen to music from either the U.S. or Europe. Compared to 2014, fewer respondents in most countries report listening to music from the U.S., except in Egypt, where a similarly low 4% listen to Western music. European music is most popular among Lebanese and Tunisian nationals (24% and 29%), possibly due to the strong French influence in both countries. Music from the U.S. is most popular among Lebanese, Qataris, and Emiratis (27% Lebanese, 27% Qataris, 31% Emiratis).    

While nationals of all ages listen to Arab music, younger adults are far more likely than their oldest counterparts to listen to Western music (18 to 24 year-olds: 27% European music and 29% U.S. music vs. 45 years and older: 8% European music and 5% U.S. music). 

While many nationals listen to music online, they are not inclined to pay for it, as demonstrated by the very low rates of buying any digital content, including movies and games. Just one in 25 internet users paid for music online in the past year (4%), and only 6% are willing to pay for it in the future. Younger internet users are somewhat more likely to pay for online music, perhaps because they are the primary online listeners, but interest in paying for it is low even among the youngest (18-24) respondents (11%).

About one in four internet users share—send or post—content about music online, except in Qatar, where the rate is less than one in 10. More internet users share content about online videos and news than about music, but respondents are more likely to share about music than sports, TV, or films. One-third of 18 to 24 year-olds share content about music online, more than any other age group.

Women are more likely than men to share music content online in Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia by five to 13 percentage points, while proportions are equal for both genders in Lebanon and the UAE. In comparison, men in every country are more likely than women to share sports content online, and both genders tend to share equally about films, TV and online videos.