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Using Daily Nighttime Lights to Monitor Spatiotemporal Patterns of Human Lifestyle under COVID-19: The Case of Saudi Arabia

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  • M. Alahmadi
  • S. Mansour
  • N. Dasgupta
  • A. Abulibdeh
  • P.M. Atkinson
  • D.J. Martin
Article number4633
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>17/11/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Remote Sensing
Issue number22
Number of pages22
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


A novel coronavirus, COVID-19, appeared at the beginning of 2020 and within a few months spread worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic had some of its greatest impacts on social, economic and religious activities. This study focused on the application of daily nighttime light (NTL) data (VNP46A2) to measure the spatiotemporal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the human lifestyle in Saudi Arabia at the national, province and governorate levels as well as on selected cities and sites. The results show that NTL brightness was reduced in all the pandemic periods in 2020 compared with a pre-pandemic period in 2019, and this was consistent with the socioeconomic results. An early pandemic period showed the greatest effects on the human lifestyle due to the closure of mosques and the implementation of a curfew. A slight improvement in the NTL intensity was observed in later pandemic periods, which represented Ramadan and Eid Alfiter days when Muslims usually increase the light of their houses. Closures of the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah affected the human lifestyle in these holy cities as well as that of Umrah pilgrims inside Saudi Arabia and abroad. The findings of this study confirm that the social and cultural context of each country must be taken into account when interpreting COVID-19 impacts, and that analysis of difference in nighttime lights is sensitive to these factors. In Saudi Arabia, the origin of Islam and one of the main sources of global energy, the preventive measures taken not only affected Saudi society; impacts spread further and reached the entire Islamic society and other societies, too.