Wednesday, June 08, 2005

95% of UAE residents own mobile :: Gulf News
The importance of literacy and numeracy
Etisalat yesterday announced its mobile phone subscribers crossed the four million mark, giving it a customer base of 95 per cent of the country's 4.2 million population.

95% of the 4.2million UAE residents own mobile phones.

"A ratio of 19:20 represents one of the highest mobile phone penetration rates in the world and confirms Etisalat's success in finding a winning formula to satisfy its customers across the board," said Mohammad Hassan Omran, chief executive of Etisalat.

"Other countries may have approached a similar level but it is unlikely that any of them had a single telecom operator. Etisalat is probably the only single operator in one country with such an achievement," he said.

I guess that is an achievement for a monopoly charging monopoly to have a penetration rate as high as countries with a highly competitive mobile phone market.
Secret Dubai emailed me yesterday to ask whether the figure of 95 percent was plausible. Her point was that more than 75% of the population is nonnationals and the vast majority of those are on very low incomes.

Here's why the 95% may not be completely improbable, at least if you happen to want to spin it that way:

1. The total population has been taken to be 4.2 million, yet my sense is that it must be over 4.5 million (recall the recent estimate that by the end of this year the population would be 5 million). 4.2 million is a low ball number that boosts the percentage.

2. Many low income workers have mobile phones that the company uses to keep up with them: janitors, gardeners, taxi drivers, truck and bus drivers have mobile phones.

3. Many people have more than one mobile. Many have surplus mobile numbers they rarely use. It's not that 95% of people have a phone.

4. Even children have mobiles because their parents want them to be able to stay in touch.

No doubt a deeper analysis could be provided by someone who actually owns a mobile. I'm among the 1 in 20 who doesn't have one.

I recently read that 30 percent of Emirati marriages end in divorce in the first year. And here I read 73 percent of Emirati women are spinsters. Neither seems credible, both must have something to do with definition, but my sources for these numbers aren't much help. As readers, we should be more demanding of clear writing, including when it comes to quoting numbers.

If anybody has suggestions about the 30% or the 73%, the comment section is open as always.

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Blogger waterboy said...

Your penetration rate comments are spot on - they're just cranking the old hype organ as per usual.

The surveys with the divorces and spinsters - there's not enough detail about divorces to know if it's the same problem but with the spinster survey the sample size is only 100 - that's far too small for the sample to be statistically robust. You'd need around 400 respondents at a minimum and preferably around 1000 for the survey to be statistically robust.

6:46 PM  
Blogger waterboy said...

Oh, and they should really know better, given that they're making such a big deal out of being a technology partner in the UAE Census 2005 initiative.

6:51 PM  
Anonymous Mel said...

I'm unsure of the veracity of those stats regarding emirati women, however, if they happened to be true, I would not be surprised at all. I've heard they demand insane sums for dowry and are generally obnoxious and arrogant.

8:10 PM  
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