Video asking Saudis not to offer census takers coffee sparks pride in hospitality

Light-hearted government advert says acts of kindness are slowing down officials in their duties

A screengrab from a video posted on YouTube by General Authority for Statistics about the 2022 census. General Authority for Statistics / YouTube
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

A public service advert from Saudi Arabian authorities asking residents not to invite census takers into their homes for coffee is proving a hit with the public.

The video, released by the Saudi General Authority for Statistics, has been viewed almost 800,000 times since its release earlier this week.

It shows a census researcher being ushered into a house for a dose of famous Saudi hospitality, after initially refusing a cup of coffee.

He tries to get the family to confirm their details for the census, but is instead plied with food.

A voiceover then explains that census officials have a short time to complete their work.

“The researcher is on a national mission and his time is limited, so let's help them,” the light-hearted voiceover says.

Social media users in the kingdom responded positively to the video, praising its gentle humour and taking pride in the tradition of hospitality that makes it necessary for the government to issue such an appeal.

“We offered the guy that came to us snacks and water,” one poster on Reddit wrote. “But he said he already ate dinner with the house next door.”

The Saudi census starts on May 10, the first since 2010. Before that, the official census took place in 2004, 1992 and 1974.

Authorities are expecting to record a big increase in the population. The 2010 census recorded a population of 27,136,977, while a preliminary estimate in mid-2020 was just over 35,000,000.

The authority ran a trial in the governorates of Tabuk, AlUla, Makkah, Asir, Diriyah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province late last year, where census takers used tablet computers to collect data on housing types, demographics and income.

“The Saudi Census 2022 remains a fundamental pillar of the kingdom’s Vision 2030, as it was designed to provide additional, complete and accurate statistical information on the Kingdom’s population, both citizens and residents, regardless of their identification papers or residency status,” the authority said.

Residents can ensure they are covered by the census in three ways.

Families and individuals can complete the census questions online in a variety of languages, can receive a home visit from a census taker, or meet a census taker at an office to fill out the forms.

Updated: April 29, 2022, 4:03 PM