The average Qatari national spends more than five hours a day engaged in leisure and cultural activities – 50 percent more than the average expat, according to a new government study examining what people in Qatar do with their day.
Qatar’s first-ever Time Use survey, undertaken by the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics (MDPS), shows that the average Qatari works shorter hours and spends more time on leisure pursuits, studying and praying than a non-Qatari resident.
The study records how a sample of 16,574 Qatari and non-Qatari residents above the age of 15 spent their time during the year between Sept. 20, 2012 and Sept. 19, 2013.
It aims to chart the quality of life residents have, and to look at the role and economic contribution of Qatari women, as part of a wider social and economic analysis, the MDPS said.
However, a number of caveats should be taken into account when looking at the data. For example, it stated that only 49 percent of Qatari men and 28 percent of Qatari women are involved in income-generating activities. However, there is no breakdown of the numbers of respondents by age category, leaving open the possibility that those who are studying at school or university, or who are retired, are affecting the figures.
These numbers are also at odds with the ministry’s second quarter Labor Force Surveypublished earlier this year, which put the figure for the number of “economically active” Qatari men working at 69 percent alongside a third of Qatari women.
Also, while the statistics for nationals is broken down by gender, it is not for expats. Across the whole population, men in Qatar outnumber women by 3:1.
Hours spent each day on activities for Qatari and non-Qataris respectively, MDPS
The average Qatari woman works for slightly fewer hours (7 hours and 26 minutes) than the average Qatari man (8 hours and 11 minutes).The Time Use study found that the average working day for an employed Qatari is less than that of an expat – 7 hours and 53 minutes, compared to 9 hours and 27 minutes.
They are all still shorter than the estimated average working day of domestic staff in Qatar, which is among the longest in the world.
A report published in January last year by UN agency the International Labour Organisation found that those employed in private households work 60 hours a week on average, although some human rights experts have put the actual figure at nearer 100 hours a week for some workers.
Based on a six-day-week, this would come to around 16 hours a day.
When all respondents – including those who don’t work at all – are included, the figures decline significantly. The average Qatari spent less than 3 hours a day on “income generating activities,” while the average non-Qatari works more than twice as much – 6 hours and 24 minutes.
The different makeup of the country’s nationals and expats likely has a strong influence on these figures. A higher percentage of foreigners are active in the local labor force than their Qatari peers, since expats generally don’t retire in Qatar and not all foreign workers are able to sponsor their non-working family members.
Looking at how people in Qatar spend their leisure time, the MDPS found that that the average Qatari spends more than a fifth of their day (5 hours and 17 minutes) in culture or recreation. This includes watching TV, reading books, surfing the net, travelling, engaged in hobbies or visiting relatives.
This compares to the average expat, who spends just 14.6 percent of their day (3 hours and 31 minutes) on these activities.
The report does not give a breakdown of the amount of time spent on each type of leisure activity. Spending time with family is an important part of the local culture for Qataris, who are also more likely to have relatives living in the country – factors that may have influenced the figures.
The average Qatari also spends more time praying than the average expat (49 minutes versus 28 minutes).
However, time spent on “personal needs” – sleeping, personal care and eating – takes up nearly half the day for both Qataris and non-Qataris (11 hours and 18 minutes vs. 10 hours and 51 minutes).
In line with cultural norms, the average Qatari women spends the most time on household duties – 3 hours and 19 minutes, compared to a Qatari man (1 hour and 50 minutes) and the average expat (2 hours and 5 minutes).
Across all the respondents, the average Qatari spends 1 hour and 8 minutes a day on education and learning, more than twice the time devoted to the activity by the average expat (25 minutes).
A total of 14 percent of Qataris and 7 percent of non-Qataris described themselves as involved in this activity, meaning they are students. Of those, their average day works out at a fairly similar length (8 hours and 22 minutes for Qataris and 7 hours and 56 minutes for non-Qataris).
A full version of the study’s findings can be found here.