Survey Reveals Positive Emirati Attitude Toward Money Matters

September 2014

Results of the 2013/2014 Dubai Social Study have been released by the Community Development Authority (CDA) and show that when it comes to money matters, Emiratis have a positive attitude toward their finances in terms of income, expenditure, and borrowing.

The survey looked at the societal views of Dubai’s residents, including Emirati and non-Emirati households on a number of subjects including quality of life, social cohesion, social needs and service provision, human rights, national identity, personal opinions and values, and social empowerment and participation.

Money matters came under the banner of Social Needs and Services and of the 7,960 Emirati individuals questioned, the following conclusions were drawn:

Financial Income:

Emiratis are giving more thought to their financial stability and security when looking for work in the competitive Dubai job market.

Of those surveyed, the financial return that a job provides was rated as the most important factor with regard to employment. On average, respondents ranked remuneration at 9.47 (out of a maximum of 10), an increase of 1.3 points from the previous year.

However, although financial security for individuals ranked as the highest concern, the second most important factor relating to employment was whether it benefited society (avg. 9.18 out of 10) which was placed above personal achievement, the working environment, and social perceptions of the job or its sector.

Financial Expenditure:

When asked to consider how they managed their finances, a total of 94% (74% strongly agreed and 20% agreed) of Emiratis surveyed said they felt that their decision-making with regard to expenditure was conducted wisely.

5% remained neutral and considered their spending neither wise nor unwise, while only 1% of the Emirati population reported that their approach to spending was unwise.

Financial Borrowing:

A slight decline in borrowing was evident among all nationalities surveyed with personal loans down by 0.8% among all respondents and 1.6% among Emiratis.

However, taking out a personal loan continues to be a popular way of funding life’s luxuries and major purchases for the region’s residents.

The most common type of personal loan taken by 63.5% of Emiratis was to purchase a vehicle, while the second most common and arguably largest loan was taken by 56.7% who used it to build property.

Personal loans in the UAE were also taken for consolidating debts accrued on credit cards (16.3%), for funding a wedding (15.4%), helping family members with their finances (11.1%), furnishing a home (6.1%), travel (0.1%) or other reasons (1.8%).

The only area of concern that the report identified with regard to money matters was an increase in the insolvency of 6.2% from 2011.

Director General of the CDA, Khaled Al Kamada has said that while “Taking a loan to construct a house is not a concern” financial institutions have a responsibility to ensure that individuals don’t borrow more than they can afford for luxury items.

However, the increase in individual attitudes towards prioritizing the financial return their employment gives them and an increase in wise spending habits could indicate a shift in individual accountability for monetary stability which contributes to reduced insolvency in the future.