Riau Malay of Indonesia

Population: 2.2 million
Primary Location: Sumatra, Indonesia
Languages: Riau Malay, Bahasa Indonesia


Who are the Riau Malay?

The Riau Malay are the largest and most dominant ethnic group in the Riau province of Indonesia.


Riau province contains the most productive oil fields in Indonesia and pumps half the nation's crude oil each day. Over 85% of the province's GDP is generated by petroleum and natural gas production.

Two of the most advanced Riau islands are Batam and Bintan, currently the focus of multi-million dollar investment opportunities. As Batam and Bintan continue to develop, industrial workers and employees in large tourist resorts are expected to outpace the number of farmers and fishermen. The greatest need at present is meaningful vocational training or work activities for youth, because a vast number of them are unemployed.


Riau province is proud of its historical role in the development of Malay culture. Most Riau Malay see themselves as open, friendly and accepting of newcomers. They feel this has been an important part of their historical tradition, as for centuries they have lived in cordial proximity to Bugis, Makasar, Chinese and Javanese peoples.


99.9% of the Riau Malay are Muslim. They have been taught from childhood that Islam is the only true religion for their people.

Prayer Points

  • Pray for indigenous fellowships of Jesus-followers to spring up among the Riau Malay. May a movement sweep through this people group.

  • Pray for God to reveal himself in dreams and visions.

  • Almost 20,000 non-Riau followers of Jesus live in this province. Pray that local believers would have a vision to reach out to the Riau Malay.

  • Pray for followers of Jesus from other ethnic groups who have moved to the towns of Batam, Bengkalis, Tembilahan, Rengat, Kampar, Pekanbaru, Tanjung Pinang and the surrounding areas, that they will find opportunities to demonstrate God's love to the Riau Malay people.

  • Pray for followers of Jesus who serve among the Riau Malay, that they would develop an effective contextualized strategy for sharing the Good News.

  • Pray for the literature that has been and will be produced for this people group. May those who wish to read and those who oversee this project understand the requirements of Jesus.

Read the full profile

Riau Malay of Indonesia

Learn more about the Riau Malay

(External links)

Joshua Project People Profile
Environmental Concerns 
Ancient Riau Manuscripts
Malay Language