Jump to content

A character of our own - Saudi versus UAE, a quick look


Recommended Posts

It's been almost three years now since I looked at the "statistical" behavior of geocaching activity in Saudi (see here). The number of caches has not increased by much since then (only 26 caches up from last time) but in neighboring UAE there is a surge of caches taking place especially in the last few months alone. Now that the number of caches is close to the number we had in Saudi three years ago (123) I will try here to compare the geocaching behavior of UAE versus those in Saudi.


Pic1: Occurrence over time




The spikes in the above picture show the caches hidden in the UAE over time. The activity was almost in hibernation up until 2007 when suddenly an influx of caches started to appear. Why is that ?


Pic2: shows the total number of caches hidden versus total score (Difficulty + Terrain) for both UAE (left, blue) and Saudi (right, purple)




Both curves can probably be fitted with a normal (Gaussian) distribution function. While Saudi shows two well defined peaks at 4 & 4.5 where a large number of caches are hidden (41 caches or 33.3%), the UAE on the other hand is more spread out and less concentrated. In particular there are many caches on the lower side of the scale (48caches or 40% of caches in UAE at ratings of 3.5 or less compared to only 26 caches or 21% for Saudi). Also note the extreme caches at 8.5 and above for the UAE (3 caches or 2.5%; these are the desert challenge series).


Now If we look at the two ratings individually we get the following pics:






The above picture shows the Difficulty rating for UAE (diamond) versus Saudi (square). The two curves are strikingly similar indicating that we tend to rate our caches very similarly on the difficulty scale. Both scales peak at 2 and decrease as expected as we go down the scale. Like I observed before, the difficulty rating of 2 stands out and looks to be a special number that we like to associate with when judging difficulty of caches hidden in both UAE & Saudi. It constitutes 41% of all caches hidden in UAE & Saudi (with Saudi more prominent). So if you run into a cache in either Saudi or UAE then there is a very good chance that the difficulty will be two stars.






The above picture shows the Terrain rating for UAE (diamond) versus Saudi


(square). Unlike Difficulty which is more concentrated at one value, Terrain on the other hand is more spread out indicating that we like to try all types of topography. UAE however shows more caches hidden in the lower end of the scale – easier land - (42 caches or 35% of all caches for UAE are rated 1.5 and lower for terrain compared to only 22 caches or 18% for Saudi). This is because many of the caches in UAE are hidden in-city while in Saudi most caches are off town. Are UAE geocachers more lazy compared to those in Saudi, or is the general atmosphere in Dubai more friendly & welcoming than its counterpart in Riyadh for example? One can make all sorts of speculations …


Pic5: Cross plot




Like before, I will fill the above table with data for the two main attributes hoping to see a correlation at the 45 degree line. In an ideal world, I would associate high rating of terrain with lower rating of difficulty (hard to reach area with easy to find treasure) or low rating of terrain with high rating of difficulty (easy to reach area but hard to find treasure). This would correspond to quadrants 2 & 3 on the picture above. Quadrant 1 would correspond to beginner's caches while quadrant 4 is for the extreme caches.









The world however, is not that perfect, and so we have the scatter shown above. First plot is for Saudi and the second is for UAE. The numbers are scattered along the vertical line of Difficulty 2. This is the magical number that we observed earlier. UAE data look more sparse compared to Saudi. Quadrants 1 & 3 seem more packed for Saudi compared to UAE (beginners to mediocre) with some pairs in the 4th harsh quadrant. Quadrant 2 seems less crowded in Saudi compared to UAE. This is because of the more of the low terrain ratings but hard to find caches (e.g., nanos and alike) falling here due to in-city caches of the UAE.



Final notes:


The geocaching activities for the two places reflect the characteristics of the setters and their surroundings. There are more in-city caches in UAE (with the abundance of small size containers) and it shows up with the large number of caches on the lower end of the terrain spectrum. Most of the cache sites in Saudi are concentrated around Riyadh area reflecting the whereabouts of the setters while in UAE the caches are more spread out.


UAE geocaching is becoming more organized and focused and the players are probably more aware of each other compared to Saudi where about 74% of the caches are hidden by only 3 setters. Like I pointed before, we may be looking at the hiding characteristics of those three individuals for Saudi rather than a large aggregate of teams like in UAE. This may explain the sparse data points on the cross plot for the UAE data as it tries to fill more area on the table compared to the less sparse Saudi data.


A sign of the increase activities by UAE cachers is the special caching events that are taking place there. More diverse TB/Geocoins are moving around between caches and out of the country (deserves another look). I expect to see this increase in number of UAE caches continuing till it surpasses that of Saudi.


Happy geocaching.

Link to comment



A most interesting posting. Well done on your analysis. :ph34r:


If I may add something - is the sudden surge in the numbers of caches not directly related to the easier availability [price & distribution] of GPSr's in the recent years and also the numbers of ex-pats arriving in the 2 countries? I am convinced that these points are making a difference in Qatar for example. There are many more GPSr's around nowadays and there is also a tendency for there to be more visitors to the country, especially this time of the year.


My 2 dirhams worth. :)



Link to comment

Really interesting statistics, thanks for your effort Mohammad!


Since the number of cachers in the area has been relatively low, I would guess that quite minor things impact in the caching activity. Whenever somebody introduces caching to his/her friends and if they happen to get more interested in the hobby you can see the impact on cache visits etc quite quickly. And when the visits increase then people are probably getting more interested in placing caches as well.


Micro/nano caches are one thing that's currently totally lacking here in Riyadh area. There's probably several reasons for it, one would be just the personal preference, at least I prefer to do caching in the desert instead of city. Another thing is probably that people don't want to take any risks on doing geocaching in public places inside the city, just in case police for example comes around and starts asking what you're doing. Well, luckily we have at least the M&M's Faisalia virtual cache in city, which is quite easy to catch for any short-term business visitors. There would be several interesting places inside Riyadh, for example the Old Diriyah area, but ensuring that caches stay in good shape there longer term is quite problematic as there's so much muggles in the area.


Happy caching,


Link to comment

However you must take into account that a 2* in Saudi is far more demanding than a 2* elsewhere though the ratings within Saudi are largely consistent with one another. A reason for this is, I believe, is that caching is more challenging in Saudi because we do benefit from greater freedom to move without being troubled by private land (though less so now than before). Also if we increased the ratings there would be a danger of squashing the spread at the top end and this would be ill advised when particular care must be taken when bagging the more difficult caches in the desert. It would be interesting to compare 2*s in Saudi and UAE.


M of M&Ms

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...