Increasing number of UAE and KSA residents are scared they will contract the Coronavirus
March 26th, 2020, Zafar Shah

Increasing number of UAE and KSA residents are scared they will contract the Coronavirus

YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker continues to measure residents’ response to the outbreak

As the number of confirmed cases and deaths due to the Coronavirus rise in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, it’s perhaps unsurprising that residents in these two countries are getting more nervous about the outbreak.

New data from YouGov’s COVID-19 tracker (11th- 24th March) shows that the level of fear has risen among people and seven in ten (69%) now say they are very or fairly scared they will contract the disease, up from 62% last week. Fear in slightly more among KSA residents - 71% as compared to people in the UAE (66%).


In both the countries, those married with children seem to be more scared than the singles (71% vs 65%). Likewise, the working residents seem to be more worried than the non-working people (72% vs 62%).

The number of people in both the countries who say they are not very scared, or not scared at all, is slightly lower, at 25% - down from 30% last week.

Among the different nationality groups residing within the two countries, the level of fear has increased over the past week among both locals and expats. In the UAE, fear levels have intensified among Emirati and Arab expats, and compared to last week a higher number claim to be very or fairly scared of getting infected (79% and 76%, respectively). Fear among Asian and Westerners is comparatively lower- at 67% and 62%, respectively.

In KSA, although fear levels have gone up for both, the expats continue being more fearful than the locals (77% vs 69%).

Awareness about Coronavirus is the same at 95%. However, it is slightly higher among people aged 45+ (at 97%) compared to their younger counterparts.

The level of information about handling the situation has also improved considerably, with 76% saying they are well informed about what to do if they suspect they have the Coronavirus as compared to 70% saying this a week back. Once again we see UAE residents being more well-informed than KSA residents in this regard (80% vs 72%).

Likewise, working adults seem to be better informed than the non-working residents (81% vs 66%).

The young adults in UAE and KSA still seem to be less well-informed about handling the Coronavirus crisis. Although the number of 18-24 year olds saying they do not have enough information around handling the virus has reduced since last week, 15% still lack adequate information.

The increased level of fear among people explains why they are taking more precautions to protect themselves from the virus. For almost all the listed measures, the number of people taking these actions have gone up since last week.


Improving personal hygiene remains the top measure taken by people in order to protect themselves from the virus (as said by 77%). As many as those who are maintaining personal hygiene are also avoiding crowded public places in order to be safe.

Refrainment from touching objects in public places, avoidance of physical contact with tourists and wearing of mask in public are some of the other top measures, which a notably higher number of residents in both the countries are observing this week as compared to the week gone by.

It is interesting to note that 45+ years residents in both the countries were much more likely to observe almost all the precautionary measures as compared to people from the other age groups.

Sensing the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak, more people have stockpiled essential items such as food, medicines, etc. The number of people saying this now has increased considerably- from 25% to 36% this week.

Data collected online by YouGov Omnibus among 2004 respondents in the UAE and Saudi Arabia between 18th and 25th March 2020 using YouGov’s panel of over 6 million people worldwide. Data is representative of the adult online population in each country.