It has already been a year since Spotify officially launched their service in the Middle East region.

From their official launch in the region in November 2018 to expanding availability of its Lite version, it has been quite a year for them and time to look back at what they’ve learned.

What better way to celebrate their first year milestone? Say hello to Spotify “Wrapped”, which provides Spotify users with the following personalized insights:

  • bespoke insights on the artists,
  • song and music genres they listened to most, and
  • fun facts like how many minutes of music you’ve heard and how many songs you’ve “liked.”

Listeners will be able to access this “Wrapped” experience directly in the Spotify app on mobile and tablet, and via the Spotify website. Want to share it with everyone? You will be able to create share cards for Instagram/Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat highlighting your personal tastes.

Listening habits in the UAE

Music is one thing that really transcends cultures and universally loved regardless of the language. UAE is no different having been the regional host to many global artists who have performed live in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. What does that tell us about the UAE on Spotify?

  • Dubai was the most musical city in the UAE. Monday 11th February 2019 was the Most musical day of 2019, when Spotify saw the most streams by United Arab Emirates music fans.
  • Post Malone is the number one most streamed artist both globally and in the UAE.
  • Ariana Grande is the number one most streamed female artist in the UAE.
  • Camila Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ summer hit “Señorita” is the most streamed song of 2019 on Spotify in the UAE

Listening habits in Saudi Arabia

With regards to Saudi Arabia, it’s equally interesting to learn about the resident’s music taste. They’ve been hosting plenty of music concerts in the past year, which would clearly the influence of international and regional artists for the country.

  • Riyadh is the most musical city in Saudi Arabia. Wednesday, 11 September 2019 was the most musical day of 2019, when Spotify saw the most streams by Saudi music fans.
  • Korean-pop sensation, BTS claimed third place on “Wrapped” most streamed artists of the year category, and are the second most streamed male artists on Spotify in Saudi Arabia.
  • Iraqi sensation Aseel Hameem is 2019’s most streamed artist in Saudi Arabia and her smash-hit, “Al Mafrood” is the most streamed track of the year.
  • Music fans in Saudi Arabia continue to honor the late American rapper, singer and songwriter, XXXTENTACION whose memory lives on as he soared up to the second most streamed artist on Spotify’s “Wrapped” 2019 list.

Concerts have played a big influence further popularizing musical genres, which clearly explains BTS’ rising popularity given their recent concert. With that, I leave you with a list of the top artists and music tracks that best describes Saudi Arabia’s listening habits of 2019.

From the Middle East to the world

Don’t think that the popularity of Arab music is only confined to the Middle East region. There is quite a large and significant Arab diaspora worldwide. In the same way, you could also try to explain the rising popularity of music from the Levant many other countries in the world.

Spotify celebrated Amr Diab’s legacy and global impact with a billboard in Times Square, and that made him the first-ever Arab artists to be featured there.

Technology and integrations

A recently published Q&A with Spotify MENA’s MD gives us more insights into some nuanced trends of their listeners.

Who doesn’t love technology? Residents in the Gulf countries love technology, especially as they’ve embraced smart speakers regardless of the brand.

It doesn’t stop there. Many vehicles now include Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. Spotify users are utilising them to continue their listening while on the move. With average users having two smartphones and even a smart watch, usage on mobile also remains extremely high due to faster mobile broadband connectivity.

Gaming has been growing constantly in the Middle East region due to broadband connectivity, popularity of gaming consoles and PC gaming, and eSports.

Music and gaming go hand-in-hand and that’s also why Spotify also inked a special partnership with PlayStation. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest gaming markets in the region. The partnership expands the experience as users can listen to their playlists via their PlayStation 4 console, and easily integrates with their mobile app to continue where they left off.


With so much that has transpired in 2019, here’s to what 2020 has in store for music listeners across the Middle East region. Hopefully, we’ll be able to learn more about the listening habits of other countries in the Middle East next year.

Posted by:Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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