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73% of UAE respondents expect life in the UAE to get more expensive, compared to 71% of regional respondents who share the same sentiment

57% of UAE residents expect their personal financial situation to improve in next 6 months

57% of UAE residents expect their personal financial situation to improve in next 6 months

The latest Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) Survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the Middle East’s number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation, shows that respondents across the region anticipate a rise in the cost of living in their country in the next 6 months. The UAE is no different; however, respondents are mostly positive that their personal financial situation will improve within the same period.

MasterCard Index in their recent survey had stated that the UAE Consumer Confidence for 2013 stood at its highest-ever score (94.7) with improvements across 4 of the 5 categories.

Personal Economic Situation

Regional Sentiment

Almost a fifth (19%) of the region’s respondents state that their financial situation has improved compared to 6 months ago, with the majority, 43%, claiming that it has remained unchanged, and 29% claiming it has become worse. Half (52%) state that their savings have decreased in comparison to last year.

Expectations for the future are high though, with half of the survey’s respondents (46%) anticipating their personal financial situation to improve in 6 months. Somewhat contrary to this is that 71% predict that the cost of living in their country of residence will increase in the months to come.

In terms of making major purchases, the majority of respondents in all countries surveyed, with the exception of Oman, do not expect to buy a vehicle in the coming 12 months. For those who will be looking to purchase a vehicle, the majority, 48%, will buy a used one, compared to 45% who will buy new.

When it comes to property, 63% of the region’s respondents – the majority in every country covered by the survey – will not be buying in the next 12 months. For the minority that are considering buying, new properties are more desirable than pre-owned (56% versus 28%), while 50% of respondents want to buy an apartment as opposed to a villa (21%). A fifth (19%) will be looking for commercial property.

Three out of 10 (28%) respondents are planning to purchase a desktop or laptop computer in the next 6 months. Other popular purchases are anticipated to be furniture (20%) and LCD or plasma televisions (18%).

In the UAE

Seven out of 10 (72%) UAE respondents state that their personal financial situation is now either the same as, or worse than it was 6 months ago, with just 22% claiming it has improved. Only 16% claim that their savings have increased in the last year, compared to 49% whose savings have decreased. The majority (57%) expect their personal financial position to improve in the 6 months to come, though 73% also believe that the cost of living will increase within the same time.

In the next 12 months, 46% of UAE respondents do not plan to buy a vehicle, while the 42% who do intend to purchase will look for a used vehicle (49%, compared to 45% who will buy new). A quarter (24%) are looking to buy property within the coming year, with 46% of these looking for an apartment, and 57% of respondents preferring new properties.

Consumers are looking to predominantly buy desktop or laptop computers (26%), furniture (21%) and LCD or plasma televisions (18%) in the coming 6 months.

Country’s Economic Situation

Regional Sentiment

The majority of respondents across the region (36%) believe that the economy in their country of residence has receded in the last 6 months, especially so in Syria (84%), Jordan (66%), Lebanon (65%) and Tunisia (63%). The situation is considered to have improved most in Oman and Qatar (43% each), followed by the UAE (39%). These three countries also have the strongest predictions for a better economy in the future, while across the board, 42% of regional respondents anticipate things to improve.

Business conditions are, on the whole across the MENA region, considered to be ‘average’ by a majority 41% of respondents, while 32% claim that things are ‘good’ or ‘very good’. With 53% of respondents saying that conditions in Qatar are ‘good’ or ‘very good’, it would appear to be the best place for business at present as per the Bayt.com survey. Expectations are high across the region for conditions to get better in a year’s time.

Employment conditions are considered to be difficult, with 32% of regional respondents stating that ‘there are few jobs available across few industries’, and 26% stating that ‘there are few jobs available across various industries’. Employment opportunities seem to be the highest in the UAE and KSA, followed by Qatar and Oman. In general, respondents anticipate more jobs in the coming 6 months, with the exception of Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, who anticipate a decrease in employment opportunities.

In the UAE

Four in 10 (39%) believe that the UAE’s economy has improved in the last 6 months, while 34% state that it has remained the same. Almost two thirds (62%) anticipate better things to come in the next 6 months. Business conditions in the UAE are believed to be ‘good’ (35%) or ‘very good’ (10%), with 38% stating that they are ‘average’, while seven out of 10 (70%) respondents anticipate them to improve in a year’s time.

In terms of employment opportunities, UAE respondents are somewhat torn; 26% state that ‘there are plenty of jobs available across various industries’, while 24% believe that ‘there are few jobs available across various industries’. Half of all UAE respondents (46%) expect there to be an increase in jobs in the UAE available in the next 6 months, while 26% expect the situation to remain the same.

Current Job Perspective

Regional Sentiment

When asked whether there have been any changes in the number of employees at their company in the last 6 months, the majority of respondents (33%) say that there have been no adjustments; 30% say that they now have more colleagues, and 29% say that they have fewer. Just more than a third (36%) expect their company to hire in the coming 6 months, while 35% expect there to be no changes.

The majority of respondents (43%) are satisfied with the career growth opportunities that their company presents them – especially so in Oman (60%) and Qatar (52%). Satisfaction with salary and allowances is low across the region, with 57% of respondents being dissatisfied. Those most happy with their compensation live in Oman (48% satisfied), Qatar (44%) and Kuwait (43%). However, 44% of respondents are happy with their non-monetary benefits, particularly in Algeria (57%), Oman (52%) and KSA (52%). Levels of job security are also high, with 44% satisfied. Algeria (59%), Oman (56%) and Kuwait (55%) seem to offer the highest level of job security.

In the UAE

Four out of 10 (37%) respondents in the UAE state that their companies have grown, employee-wise, in the last 6 months, while 31% say that there has been a decrease in the number of people working with them. The majority (44%) expect there to be growth in the number of employees in the coming 6 months.

UAE respondents are satisfied with their career growth opportunities (43%), non-monetary benefits (43%) and job security (45%), though they are mostly unhappy with their current compensation, with 39% dissatisfied compared to 36% who are satisfied.

“It’s clear to see which countries are currently perceived by residents to be more favourable to live and work in than others; countries within the GCC seem to be preferable for their current economic situations and the business conditions that comes with such. The Levant seems to be less popular at present, most likely influenced by regional political situations,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Sales, Bayt.com. “At Bayt.com, we specialise in empowering the region’s job seekers and employers by providing them with the latest vital statistics relating to recruitment.”

“Respondents in the GCC countries seem to be especially happy with their current situation, in terms of job and the country’s economic stability. However, with the majority of people anticipating an increase in living costs and having experienced a decrease in savings, it may be time to take an evaluative look at the stability of personal financial situations,” said Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov.

Data for the quarterly Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index survey (September 2013) was collected online from July 28-August 15 2013, with 6,585 respondents aged over 18 years, covering the GCC, North Africa, Levant, Western Expatriate and Asian. Countries that participated are UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

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