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Key UAE and International Trends in Media Consumption and Public Perception

Four in five (79%) UAE residents regularly read newspapers and magazines to stay up-to-date with news and current affairs

• Nine out of 10 UAE residents consume news from multiple media channels to gain a well-rounded perspective

• Social media (34%), TV (27%), and websites (24%) are UAE’s top sources for news, information, and current events – although websites are considered most credible

• 77% of UAE residents regularly listen to podcasts

The proliferation of media channels and the ever-evolving digital landscape means modern consumers are more connected than ever with news and entertainment from a wide variety of sources.

Yet, despite the rise of social media platforms, consumers in the UAE still place great value in traditional media with 79 per cent of residents regularly reading physical newspapers and magazines and listening to radio, according to a large-scale international survey by award-winning integrated comms agency Action Global Communications.

The wide-ranging ‘Media Navigator by Action Global Communications’ report canvassed 500 UAE residents of varying ages and nationalities on media consumption patterns and public perception of traditional and digital media, as well as social media platforms.

Commissioned in response to the increasing array of communication channels readily available to people across the globe, the survey canvassed a total of more than 3,000 people across seven diverse markets within the Public Relations consultancy’s international network: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Action Global Communications will use the survey to better equip brands and stakeholders with the knowledge necessary to develop targeted strategies, enhance engagement with consumers, bolster brand credibility and drive business growth in these regions. As consumers navigate news and information channels, with each serving a distinct purpose, the study demonstrates how it is now pivotal for brands to adopt a holistic and integrated approach to effectively leverage their news and content output across all available channels.

Chris Christodoulou, CEO of Action Global Communications, said the company’s inaugural research initiative comes at a time when the media landscape is rapidly evolving, and consumers have unprecedented choices in how they engage with content, brands, and each other.

“In today’s fast-paced and dynamic business environment, it is paramount for brands to remain relevant and understand the intricacies of audience behaviours and preferences,” said Christodoulou. “By gaining insights into the habits and perceptions of today’s consumer segments, marketing and comms decision-makers can devise effective strategies and budget allocations. A strong understanding of local nuances is equally essential, as consumer behaviour can vary significantly from one market to another, as our report reaffirms.”

With mobile penetration in the UAE at 200.9 per cent at the start of the year, according to GSMA Intelligence, it is little surprise that social media is the go-to news source for the country’s residents. Yet the Action study also shows the important role traditional media retains in the region, with 61 per cent of respondents confirming they source news through a combination of traditional and digital media outlets.

Euan Megson, Managing Director of Action Global Communications – UAE, added: “The UAE is renowned as a global leader in digital transformation and mobile penetration, which is mirrored by the country’s constantly evolving media landscape. However, it is encouraging to see residents and citizens continue to hold traditional media in high regard in terms of news consumption. With decision makers and consumers continuing to rely on the credibility of well-established and new traditional media outlets, it is vital that organisations and brands recognise the value in an omni-channel approach to better reach audiences. It is also worth noting that the UAE public’s desire to consume news through a range of sources further demonstrates the country’s standing as a progressive, tolerant, and well-informed society.”

Key Insights from ‘Media Navigator by Action Global Communications’

The Action study highlights the importance of in-depth understanding of local audiences and media landscapes, particularly in fast-growing markets where strong on-the-ground presence, local knowledge, and cultural understanding are key to fostering engagement with audiences.

• Seventy-seven per cent of respondents are likely to form a better opinion of brands that actively address social and environmental issues in their communications, with the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Cyprus delivering the highest numbers in this aspect. UAE audiences lead, with 80 per cent of those surveyed noting they will form a better opinion of brands that actively address social and environmental issues.

• Half of all respondents are more likely to trust and engage with brands whose communications and campaigns resonate with local culture and values, with Middle Eastern audiences (UAE, KSA, Qatar) showing a particular preference for such content.

• Social media (34%), TV (27%), and websites (24%) are the UAE’s top sources for information, news, and current events.

• Fifty-eight per cent of respondents in the UAE consider news portals to be the most credible news source, with TV following close behind .

• Nine out of 10 UAE respondents consider it extremely or very important to access news from multiple sources to get a well-rounded perspective.

• Three-quarters of respondents have made purchasing decisions or formed opinions based on influencer recommendations.

The inaugural ‘Media Navigator by Action Global Communications’ report also highlights key audience trends, including:

• Multi-Channel Consumption: Audiences are increasingly engaging with multiple channels to access content. The integration of traditional and digital platforms is crucial to delivering a consistent and impactful brand or campaign message.

• Local Understanding and Cultural Awareness: Market-specific differences remain when it comes to media preferences and priorities, underscoring the significance of thorough local understanding and cultural awareness.

• Social Media Credibility: While social media remains dominant, its credibility is constantly being evaluated. Fostering transparency and authenticity on social media will play a pivotal role in brands building trust among their audience.

• Podcast Revolution: Podcasts have emerged as a powerful medium, offering an uncommon opportunity to establish deeper connections with target consumers.

• The Influencer Factor: Influencer marketing has proven to be an effective strategy to reach niche segments and build brand affinity.

Darren Ryan, global creative director of 3GEM Research & Insights, which served as Action Global Communications’ research partner, added: “This research provides valuable insights for brands seeking to navigate the complex and ever-changing media landscape. By aligning marketing and communication strategies with consumer behaviours and preferences, brands can foster meaningful connections with audiences, elevate brand credibility, and drive impactful results.”

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