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The reading public in the United Arab Emirates

Odekhiren Amaize (Department of Marketing and Marketing Communications, School of Business Administration, American University in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Steven Buigut (School of Business, American University in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 7 August 2018

Issue publication date: 23 August 2018




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the socioeconomic factors that influence the public’s reading interest in specific genres of literature, as well as what the public actually reads or listens to in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


A survey of 1,377 households, consisting of 650 and 727 from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, respectively, was conducted in 2012 as part of the country’s first, and to date only, comprehensive Survey of Public Participation in the Arts. A multivariate probit model is applied to analyze factors that influence interest in reading fiction, religion and spirituality and health and fitness. In addition, factors that influence public’s likelihood to read novels, short stories and poems are also assessed.


The results indicate that ethnicity, gender and education level significantly influence both the interest in reading, and actual reading habits. For example, while Asian and Western expatriate groups show more interest in fiction and health and fitness literature, Emirati are more likely to read poems. A gender difference is identified with females more likely to read.

Research limitations/implications

The survey focused on regular dwelling units and within a household, family and resident relatives. Hence, it excludes a segment of residents, such as domestic workers and unauthorized migrants.


This is the first study to empirically assess the factors influencing the public’s interest and reading habits across a range of genres of literature in the UAE.



The authors of this paper have not made their research data set openly available. Any enquiries regarding the data set can be directed to the corresponding author.


Amaize, O. and Buigut, S. (2018), "The reading public in the United Arab Emirates", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 45 No. 9, pp. 1355-1368.



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