By Lubna Hamdan
Both countries have seen a rise in movement in residential areas
Google is publishing users' location data as it aims to help governments around the world tackle the Covid-19 pandemic by proving the effectiveness of measures such as social distancing.
The data includes the movement of users from 131 countries including GCC countries UAE and Saudi Arabia, and will be made available on a special website that will "chart movement trends over time by geography", according to a blog post by Google’s head of Google Maps and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.
Such trends include the increase or decrease in visits to locations such as offices, homes, shops and parks.
In the UAE, visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centres, theme parks, museums, libraries and movie theaters have dropped 55 percent, and 54 percent in Saudi Arabia.
While visits to grocery markets, food warehouses, farmers markets, specialty food shops, drugs stores and pharmacies dropped 26 percent in the UAE and a close 24 percent in Saudi Arabia.
National parks, public beaches, marinas, dog parks, plazas and public gardens saw a 53 percent plunge in the UAE and a lower 49 percent in Saudi Arabia, while public transport hubs like the subway, bus and train stations saw a 69 percent decrease in visits in the UAE and as much as 75 percent in Saudi.
Mobility in work places dropped 45 percent in both the UAE and Saudi, while movement in places of residence in the Emirates increased by 26 percent in the UAE and 23 percent in the kingdom.
Google executives said they hope the reports will help support decisions taken to manage the pandemic.
"This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings,” they said.
The reports will use "aggregated, anonymised" data from users who have activated their location history, but will not share "personally identifiable information" such as their location, contacts or movements.Social distancing is a part of strict governments measures taken to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has affected more than 1.2 million and killed nearly 65,000 around the world.
The reports show trends over several weeks, with the most recent data representing around 2-3 days ago, which is how long it takes to produce the reports.