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Saudi Arabia’s Population, Housing and Establishments 2020


Due to the continuous increase in the demand for data, information and reliable statistical indicators by users of the government sector in particular, most countries implement a census that includes population, housing and establishments every ten years to set plans, policies and to make decisions as well. This shall contribute to the journey of national development in various social and economic fields and to provide planners and decision makers with the actual image and detailed data on the populations and their distribution based on the place of residence as well as the social and economic characteristics such as: educational level, qualifications, individuals’ economic status, occupations, type of the economic sector to which they belong to, and type of the establishment’  economic activity .


Census Definition

It refers to the total process of collecting, preparing, evaluating, disseminating and analyzing the demographic, economic and social data on alive population in a given country and during a certain period of  time, i.e., counting each alive individual within the boundaries of a particular country at a specific time and date then registering their social and economic characteristics of each individual, during the period of time reference, separately from the characteristics of other household members. The enumeration process also includes collecting, preparing, disaggregating, and analyzing the most important economic indicators that reflect the characteristics of establishments which practice certain economic activity during a specific period of time in Saudi Arabia.


Types of Censuses

There are three types of censuses by their ways of implementation:

Traditional Census:

In this type of censuses, the form is designed and the data is collected through households’ field visits only. It is not linked with any administrative records. However, many countries use this method including the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and others.

Register-Based Census:

In this type of censuses, the form is designed and the data is collected by being linked with administrative records to obtain the households’ main data. Additional data should be completed electronically.

This method is used in countries with strong technological structure and excellent register-based data either for population, housing, or for detailed social, economic, environmental, and cultural data such as the Scandinavian countries.

Traditional/ Register-Based Census:

In this type of censuses, the form is designed and the data is collected through being linked with administrative records to obtain the households’ main data. Additional data should be completed through field visits. Many countries use this method such as Spain and Germany.


Saudi Arabia Census 2020:

Saudi Census 2020 is different from previous censuses especially in the method of enumeration. This census will be (a traditional/ register-based) one, which relies on merging the register-based data with field data. In this census, the General Authority for Statistics will use diverse methods to obtain more accurate information by linking the databases with each other. In addition, GASTAT will cooperate with the Saudi Post, the National Information Center, and the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to implement the census works. The form of this census will be designed and data will be collected through linkage with administrative records to obtain the households’ main data. However, additional data should be completed through households’ field visits. This method is used in many countries such as Spain and Germany.

The Road Map to Move from a Traditional Census towards a Register-Based One:

To move from a traditional census towards a register-based one, distinct technological structure and comprehensive population, social, economic, environmental, and cultural databases should be available. Therefore, countries cannot directly move from a traditional census into a register-based one before implementing its census with a traditional/register-based method for one year or more in accordance with its technical potentials and the nature of the countries’ technological structure. Netherlands experience represents a typical example of the movement from a traditional census into a register-based one after implementing the traditional/register-based census twice.

When will Saudi Arabia’ Census 2020 start?

Cabinet resolution number 209 dated 4/4/1438 H chose Tuesday, March 17th, 2020, corresponding Rajab 22nd ,1441H to be the time reference night of Saudi Census (the beginning of the actual enumeration). The resolution also included the implementation of the General Population, Housing, and Establishments Census 2020 by GASTAT, along with all its previous preparatory works, and its following stages such as the actual enumeration and the publication of its results.    

Objectives of Saudi Arabia Census 2020

 Support the national development plans and programs through founding a broad statistical database.

  • Support the provision of all educational, health, and social services for Saudi Arabia’ population.
  • Enhance the participation of municipalities and rural villages in the national development plans.
  • Provide accurate information that supports planners in creating opportunities for employment and housing.
  • Support the cities and villages’ urban development and planning in different regions. 
  • Collaborate in developing the economic establishments by providing a modern frame of information about all their practiced activities.
  • Provide population and economic data and indicators periodically to track the changes over time.
  • Recognize the size of establishments in each economic activity.
  • Recognize the size of establishments in each economic sector.
  • Create a database of Saudi establishments to be used in the conduction of research and studies.
  • Compare results with the previous censuses to measure the economic growth and develop all sectors in Saudi Arabia.
  • Consider the size of Saudi and non-Saudi manpower in the private sector and distribute them by economic activities.
  • Recognize the size of employees in each economic sector.


Saudi Arabia Census 2020 is the fifth census conducted in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has previously conducted four censuses that provided planners, decision makers and policy makers with information, data, and statistics that greatly contributed in building a national renaissance and development. Saudi Arabia Census 2020 is the fifth one in the history of Saudi Arabia. During the previous censuses, the population numbers recorded:


















Previous Censuses:

Saudi Arabia has previously implemented four censuses:

1. The first census was conducted in 1394H (1974) where the total number of population reached (7.009.466) Seven million nine thousand four hundred sixty-six population.

2. The second census was conducted in 1413H (1992) where the total number of population reached (16.948.388) Sixteen million nine hundred forty-eight thousand three hundred eighty-eight population

3. The third census was conducted in 1425H (2004) where the total number of population reached (22.678.262) Twenty-two million six hundred seventy-eight thousand two hundred sixty-two population.

4. The fourth census was implemented by the Central Department of Statistics and Information- before being transformed into the General Authority for Statistics – in 1431 H (2010), the total number of population recorded (27,136,977) Twenty-seven million one hundred thirty-six thousand nine hundred seventy-seven population.


Census 2020 Resolution:

The Cabinet Decision No. 209 dated 4/4/1438 AH included that the implementation of the General Population and Housing Census for 2020 will be carried out by GASTAT. 2020 Saudi Arabia’s census is the fifth of its kind in Saudi Arabia’ history.


Time Reference Night of Saudi Arabia’ Census 2020

by Royal Decree, the implementation date of the Census (time reference night) was determined to be on Tuesday evening, Rajab 22nd, 1441H (corresponding March 17th, 2020).





Enumeration Coverage of Saudi Arabia Census 2020

Saudi Arabia’ Population Census enumeration covers all Saudi and non-Saudi individuals living inside Saudi Arabia at the time of the census whether they are permanent residents or visitors; the census also covers:

  • Members of the Saudi diplomatic who are required to work outside Saudi Arabia, are counted through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • Saudis who are temporarily outside Saudi Arabia for any reason (such as treatment, trade, tourism, etc.) are counted with their family members residing inside Saudi Arabia.
  • All residential units and economic establishments.

Regarding the geographic scope of the Census of establishments (in Saudi Arabia 2020), the enumeration process includes all economic establishments operating in a particular geographical area. The Census covers all the populated areas all over administrative regions in Saudi Arabia, including the small populated areas. Although, the cover process costs a lot of effort, time and money, GASTAT is pleased to carry out this Census with its all challenges in order to ensure the accuracy and comprehensiveness.


 The labour force required for enumerating the establishments in these areas, such as: supervisors, inspectors, monitors, and enumerators, will be estimated based on the data completed during the preparatory phases of the General Population and Housing Census 2020, which includes the distribution of establishments at the level of the populated areas.


Households and Establishments Data and Information Collected in Saudi Arabia’ Census 2020

  1. Geographical distribution data.
  2. Household size and composition.
  3. Age distribution data.
  4.  Nationality data.
  5. Health and disability data.
  6. Place of birth data as well as previous and usual place of residence.
  7.  Educational status data.
  8. Marital status data.
  9.  Economic characteristics data.
  10. Housing characteristics data.
  11. Death and birth data.
  12. Information community data: to identify the society’s means of culture and entertainments.
  13. Establishments’ data, including (the number, geographic distribution, activity, branches, workers, and revenues) of the establishments.
  14. Data on the size and type of economic activities.
  15. Data on geographical distribution of economic activities.
  16. Providing up-to-date data of economic establishments operating in Saudi Arabia that can be reflected in administrative records.
  17. Identifying the size and distribution of workers according to economic activities by gender and nationality.
  18. Data on geographical distribution of establishments.
  19. Data on the ownership of the establishments.
  20. Providing data for international and regional comparison of economic activities.


GASTAT Preparations for Census 2020:

GASTAT has conducted the Census 2020 in line with the latest adopted international standards to be the first traditional / register-based census for Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Furthermore, it has prepared a detailed plan for the various phases of the Census with a timetable to implement the following:

1. Preparation phase.

 2. Field work phase.

3. Data processing and publishing phase. 


Methods of population and establishments’ data collection in the Saudi Arabia Census 2020:

There are a number of methods used to collect the census data, either direct or indirect. The method used to collect the data of the 2020 census will be the direct method through the personal interview with the head of the household or with any member of the household who is not less than (15) years old. A number of data fields will be completed through linkage with the National information Center. In addition, a person can use the self-enumeration method to complete the census questionnaire by entering the electronic portal. Moreover, the collection method used to collect establishment’s data is the comprehensive enumeration of all establishments in Saudi Arabia, whether operating, closed or vacant at the time of the enumeration. The statistical researcher will visit the establishment and conduct a direct interview with the employers, managers or the person in-charge of the establishment. The statistical researcher will introduce himself and present his ID card, and then he will fill in the required data in the census’ questionnaire on the tablet.  If it is not possible to fill in all the required data because it is not available during the visit of the field researcher, he must repeat the visit until he obtain the required data.

If the establishment is closed, the field researcher will fill in the data that can be obtained from the establishment’s signboard into the tablet. The visit is repeated until the data is complete or until the end of the enumeration period to indicate that the establishment is temporarily closed or permanently closed.

It is also worth noting that the establishments can self-complete their data by entering a link dedicated to that and complete the data in an individual questionnaire designed for this purpose.

Tasks of the Steering and Executive Committees:

 First: The tasks of Census Steering Committee are:

 1. Providing the necessary support to complete the Census tasks.

 2. Following up the work progress, and implementing the specific plans.

 3. Overcoming obstacles facing the implementation process.

 4. Supporting project works to ensure the quality of implementation.

5. Nominating the president and members of the local committees in the administrative regions.





Second: Tasks of the census’s executive committee:

  1. Providing support to decrease the challenges and the risks related to the project.
  2. Reviewing the executive plans of the census’s project as well as studying its implementation mechanism, in addition to the support from various entities so it can achieve its objectives.
  3.  Supporting and following up with the local committees in the regions
  4. Confirming the time tables for the final enumeration stage.
  5. Providing the necessary support to find locations for training and for field works
  6. Escalating to the steering committee if necessary