Has the Middle East become healthier since the pandemic?

Posted by Borderless Access on Sep 1, 2020 11:37:58 AM
Borderless Access


Worldwide nearly two-thirds of people claim to be taking their personal health and fitness habits more seriously since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. We have taken a closer look at how people living in the Middle East have altered their routines, with a focus on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

The pandemic has made a deep impression on people in the Middle East as reflected in their response to their personal health and fitness levels, with over 70% of people across the Middle East, (77% of people in the UAE and 75% of people in the KSA) taking a renewed interest in their health compared to 63% worldwide.

It is definitely healthy habits, and not simply improved hygiene practices that are changing. In the Middle East the number of people focusing solely on improved hygiene habits largely mirrors global trends.

While people in the Middle East largely follow global trends where 69% of people say they are not making major dietary changes -- such as adopting vegetarianism or veganism -- they are making specific changes to their lifestyles, such as eating more fruit, drinking more water or exercising more. Across almost all of these measures, people living in the KSA and UAE are putting in more effort compared to global trends. While Egyptians largely follow suit, this group of people are choosing to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables they eat over immunity-boosting supplements. Exercise and improved sleep hygiene, however, hold less sway for Egyptians.


Like people the world over, the pandemic has made people in the Middle East reluctant to visit doctors. The move to online platforms has enabled doctors to bridge this problem, causing some to wonder if this trend will continue post-pandemic. For more on this topic read our earlier article Is the future of the medical consultation in the Middle East digital?

While visiting the gym is currently marginally more popular in the Middle East than the rest of the world, people in this region would rather exercise by following an online tutorial. Going for a walk or run outdoors is less popular here than it is elsewhere in the world.

Across the Middle East people have different responses to mental health. While 45% of people in Egypt claim not to focus much on mental health, which is considerably more than the global average of 38%. People in the KSA (35%) and UAE (28%) feel differently, indicating that mental health is a higher priority for people in these countries. Despite these differences, people across all three countries claim to have started mental health exercises (such as meditation and breathing exercises) at a rate that is higher than the global average of 28%.


While the economy is of paramount importance, see our earlier research on people’s responses to the pandemic have been different around the world, and their changing health and fitness habits are also not identical. Residents of the Middle East are doing a lot to improve their personal health. However here the focus is on eating healthily and not necessarily increasing exercise habits.

Borderless Access has access to global smart panels across health and a myriad of other sectors. Contact us to discuss your data collection and insights requirements.

Topics: consumer research, digital research, digital market research, middle east market research, healthcare research, lifestyle research

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