According to a recent ‘Rest and Recreation Habits among Mena Professionals’ poll conducted by Bayt.com, people in the Mena region spend a large portion of their time browsing the internet, with a third claiming to spend more than five hours a day surfing the web. The region’s least favourite hobby is shopping (0.2 per cent), less popular than spending time outdoors (2.2 per cent) and watching television (3.8 per cent).
Outside of spending time with family (claimed as a favourite pastime by 38.8 per cent of poll respondents), the internet is a hot favourite amongst those living in the Middle East and North Africa, with almost 30 per cent of respondents saying that they spend most of their free time on the Internet. Only 4.9 per cent claim to never surf the net for fun, while 30.7 per cent spend a minimum of five hours browsing the web for leisure on a daily basis. A fifth (21.9 per cent) relax online for an hour a day.
Beside family time and browsing the web, the most popular ways to relax in the region include spending time with friends (8.8 per cent), reading (6.8 per cent), playing sports (4.6 per cent), or enjoying outdoor pursuits (2.2 per cent). The results show that 4.9 per cent claim to have hobbies other than those mentioned above, while a paltry 0.2 per cent state that they prefer to go shopping in their free time.
In terms of how much money is spent on being entertained, the poll shows that the majority of Mena respondents (42.4 per cent) spend no more than 10 per cent of their annual income on leisure and entertainment, while four out of ten (37.2 per cent) spend between 11-30 per cent of their yearly earnings on leisure and recreation.
“People in the Mena region seem to be more conservative in their spending, opting for pastimes that are low-cost. The high number of people who spend their time with family and friends is reflective of the values of Middle Eastern culture, while the overwhelming number of hours spent on the internet is definite nod to the increasingly digital age that we live in,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com.
The poll also explored other ways in which respondents spend their leisure and entertainment time. In terms of health- and sports-related activities, the overall preference in the Mena is for less active pursuits although 52.7 per cent own a gym membership or have access to a gym, and 51.7 per cent spend time outdoors nearly every day (of which only 18.9 per cent ‘often’ visit public parks and beaches). Three quarters (75.8 per cent) eat out at restaurants or order in regularly, with the majority of these (34.1 per cent) doing so almost daily.
On a cultural level, catching a movie on the big screen is surprisingly unpopular, with 42.6 per cent of respondents stating that they ‘never’ visit a cineplex (as opposed to the 15.6 per cent who do so every week). Watching television is, however, a common pastime: eight out of 10 (78.3 per cent) watch between one-to-four hours of television a day, with 7.8 per cent stating that they watch five or more hours. English programmes are most popular with TV-watchers (according to a 35.4 per cent majority), though 32.2 per cent like to watch Arabic shows, and the preferences of 32.5 per cent are for both languages equally.
Three clear groups emerged when respondents were asked about attending cultural events, such as concerts, performances, art exhibitions and so on. A quarter (24.8 per cent) claimed to never attend such happenings; 21.6 per cent state that they go ‘less than twice a year’, while 21.2 per cent are frequent attendees with weekly attendances.
Travelling for leisure is something that only a minority of Mena respondents do very frequently, with 64.1 per cent doing so no more than once a year (of which 35 per cent claimed to travel less than once a year). For those who do travel, the three most popular regions to visit are the Levant (22.3 per cent), the GCC (20.7 per cent), and Europe (15.6 per cent).
Data for the Bayt.com ‘Rest and Recreation Habits among Mena Professionals’ poll was collected online from December 20,2012 to January 15,2013, with 10,815 respondents covering more than 12 countries in the Mena region.