UAE professionals remain upbeat on economy, jobs

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Dubai—More than half of UAE professionals are optimistic about future employment opportunities and personal finances and believe the country’s economic situation will improve in the coming 12 months, a study by Visa revealed on Saturday. ‘Professionals Study’, conducted in the UAE as part of a global research by Visa that looks at consumer spending habits, priorities and optimism about the future, is based on responses from UAE citizens and residents aged 18 to 55 who hold at least one payment card.
The findings of the study show that professionals in the UAE prioritise their children’s education (65 per cent), spending time with family (57 per cent) and staying healthy (52 per cent). Younger professionals (aged between 18 and 29) also want to increase personal income and save for the future. Ihab Ayoub, Visa general manager for the Middle East and North Africa, said the study highlights a strong correlation between the outlook on the global economy and the expectation for spending on discretionary items such as holidays and night outs. “Confidence in the UAE’s economy generally goes up in line with increasing confidence about future employment opportunities and personal income.”
The study showed that 25 per cent of UAE professionals are driven by status, 23 per cent by quality and 20 per cent by exclusivity, followed by experience (14 per cent) and brand association (18 per cent) in acquiring luxury items. Professionals in the age group 18 to 29, as well as those who earn more than Dh35,000 per month, are more inclined towards luxury as a display of status and a way of enjoying exclusive products. Individuals focused on quality prefer products that are long-lasting and durable, and the choice of luxury goods for them is always practical. These professionals are likely to hold between one to two credit and debit cards on average. They are likely to compare prices and reviews before making a purchase, and spend higher amounts on food and dining, clothing, personal care and investments.
Status seekers use products that are often endorsed by celebrities and use wealth to buy more items they personally desire. These professionals are more likely to be 18 to 29 years old who are not yet married. They spend more frequently on designer clothes, furniture, holidays and electronics. Professionals who are exclusivity-focused generally own products before others. They are more likely to be males (63 per cent who make more than Dh35,000 per month (37 per cent) and who have teenage children. These professionals spend more on family holidays, furniture and cars.
The study throws light on spending habits of professionals who most often spend on entertainment, night outs and fine dining apart from groceries and household items, with the average overall spend as high as Dh11,000 per month. But, the study also showed that saving is important for UAE professionals – with nearly 80 per cent putting aside approximately Dh6,000 per month for discretionary spending. An average of 90 per cent of UAE professionals spend on everyday things such as groceries and household items (92 per cent), fast food (89) and casual dining (89 per cent) about once a week. Nearly 80 per cent like to go out with friends and family a few times a month, while 55 per cent like to donate to charity. More than half spend on fashion and clothing once a month and 29 per cent pay for fitness memberships.
Professionals aged 18 to 29 spend more frequently on most discretionary items and spend more on fast food, casual dining and night outs compared with older counterparts. These professionals also prefer to use debit cards more than older professionals. Nearly 75 per cent of the respondents said they prefer using credit cards over debit cards and mobile wallets, but 43 per cent said they would be open to using mobile wallets since they are more secure, help track expenses and come with no additional charges or fees. Given the optimism about the global economy among UAE professionals, the outlook for spending on discretionary items such as holidays and night outs is strong. About 40 per cent of the respondents said they expect to spend more on family vacations in the next year, while 37 per cent said they intend to donate more to charity. Professionals in the UAE are among the most frequent travellers in the Middle East, having taken on average one to two overseas trips in the past six months.—Agencies

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