30,000 census takers to descend on Saudi Arabia's towns and cities

Census in kingdom provides data for policymaking and planning

An aerial view shows the skyline of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. EPA

People in Saudi Arabia took part in the national census on Tuesday, after delays caused by the coronavirus.

Citizens and residents can take part in the census online, or they can have a census taker pay a home visit or meet them at a registered office.

The General Authority for Statistics said it successfully completed canvassing addresses for the census, which started on January 26 and ended on March 10 this year.

Address canvassing is where all "occupied and unoccupied housing units are numbered and linked" with the head of household. Preliminary data was collected by a team of more than 14,000 officials to ensure the census covers all housing.

The census has been three years in the planning and is the fifth one the kingdom has conducted.

The last census took place in 2010, preceded by 2004, 1992 and 1974. The last census recorded the kingdom's population at 27,136,977 people, while a preliminary estimate for 2020 put it at more than 35,000,000.

"I had a very friendly official wearing their official uniform show up at our door over a month ago," said Farah Kasem, who lives in Jeddah.

"He took our data, asking how many people live here, ages and so on. He was using an iPad to register our information and was very professional and polite.

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning and chairman of the board for the authority, Faisal Alibrahim, said the census was crucial for the planning and policymaking required to achieve the kingdom's Vision 2030 goals.

“We currently have 30,000 field researchers," Mr Alibrahim said in a press statement on Wednesday.

In February, the authority issued an official warning on its social media account asking residents to "beware of fraudulent impostors impersonating" field researchers.

Residents can do this through verifying the "official uniform specified for field enumerators, requesting his identification card, and by contacting us.”

A screengrab from a video posted on YouTube by General Authority for Statistics about the 2022 census. General Authority for Statistics / YouTube

The government body also asked Saudis to refrain from inviting census takers into their homes for tea, because it disrupts their work.

Mr Alibrahim said all residents should take part in the census as a national duty and social responsibility.

He encouraged people to co-operate with census takers and provide data as accurately as possible, because the "census results will directly impact policy".

The results will help policymakers in urban planning and development, providing public services and help the private sector and investors to take part in the kingdom’s economic growth.

For the first time, satellite imagery will be used to ensure a more comprehensive coverage of the country’s regions and provinces that have undergone major development since the last census in 2010.

Updated: May 11, 2022, 11:24 PM