RIYADH — While mitigating the precautionary measures that Saudi Arabia has taken since mid-March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and starting the return of business as usual, the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) assessed in its latest Instant Insight publication the impact of restricted mobility in Saudi Arabia due to the pandemic.
The paper, published by the center’s researchers Alma Alhussaini and Nourah Al Hosain, showed that Saudi Arabia ranked in second place in the list of countries in which traffic congestion decreased due to enforcing the curfew. It came after Italy, which ranked in first place. China came in third place, followed by Hong Kong, and then the United Arab Emirates.
KAPSARC’s paper revealed that traffic congestion in Saudi Arabia fell by 44%, as of mid-March, which was a direct result of schools and airports in the Kingdom closing, according to the navigation data collected by TomTom. Furthermore, studies have shown a direct correlation between traffic congestion reduction and traffic-related injuries/deaths, showing a 55% decrease in traffic-related injuries/deaths between March 10-19 and March 21-30, 2020.
The paper emphasized the decrease in carbon emissions in the atmosphere in Saudi Arabia due to COVID-19. Riyadh had seen a reduction in CO of 56% between January and April, and Nazareth Park station in Qatif, which was the first city to implement a curfew, recorded a decrease in carbon emissions, which reached 2.6 parts per million (ppm) within three months.
The paper highlighted the prosperity in e-commerce in Saudi Arabia during the implementation of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The number of orders made through delivery apps increased by 240% from March to May. Additionally, a study involving 500 participants showed that 38% of merchants established an e-commerce platform to accommodate demand, while 80% of merchants predicted an increase in the use of such platforms even after the pandemic.
This publication comes under KAPSARC’s Instant Insight series, which seeks to analyze and study the long-term changes in consumer behavior and the impacts on different sectors, as the impact of restricted mobility from this pandemic unfolds.
Many experts predict that people will become reluctant to use public transportation and ridesharing services, and that there will be a decrease in demand for air travel and business travel, in addition to people still following social distancing measures for a while after the pandemic.
The Instant Insight is one of KAPSARC’s research publications, which aims to analyze, assess and study ongoing and current events, to develop the best recommendations, visions and suggestions, and to explore the best ways to reduce risks and help in continuing economic growth and prosperity in Saudi Arabia.
It is noted that KAPSARC made progress in the list of the best research centers regionally and globally, as it jumped 14 ranks in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) research centers. It ranked 15th out of 103 research centers regionally, and 13th out of 60 research centers globally specializing in energy policy.
This article originally appeared on Saudi Gazette