UAE expats' top money priorities: Children's education, saving for retirement... and gold

Gold bigger draw than property; Saving for a rainy day third priority for those who participated in survey

Education of children remains the top priority of the UAE expats, with gold outshining property as the preferred asset class, according to a new report.

UK-based Friends Provident International, in their latest Investor Attitude Report, said 93 per cent of the UAE respondents were saving with children’s education as their top priority.

The second priority for UAE expats (49 per cent) was saving for retirement followed by saving for a rainy day/emergency. Whilst in Hong Kong and Singapore, the two countries surveyed along with the UAE, saving for a rainy day/emergency remained the top priority.

“Given the demographics of the UAE it is no surprise that overall 55 per cent of respondents are saving to pay for children’s education,” Matthew Waterfield, General Manager, Middle East and Africa, Friends Provident International, said in the report.

“It is pleasing to see that planning for retirement features high on people’s agendas. Whilst there has been speculation in the media regarding a pension scheme for expatriates in Dubai, it is important that people that do not wait for its introduction and instead take personal responsibility for planning a comfortable retirement.”

On the investment side, gold topped the list of asset class followed by property with expats remaining pessimistic about investing in equities.

“Investors are positive on mainstream physical assets - gold and property, and their views are broadly in line with the other regions (Hong Kong and Singapore),” the report said.

In contrast, a World Gold Council (WGC) report said gold sales in the UAE had plummeted 22 per cent in the third quarter of 2012 compared with the corresponding period of last year. Jewellery demand had declined 20 per cent in Q3 2012 over Q3 2011 while investment demand for gold coins and bars fell 28 per cent in the same period, WGC said.

Forty nine per cent of the respondents believed property will grow strongly. Only 11 per cent said property would grow very strongly while 10 per cent expected some weakening.

“The reduced appetite for cash is understandable, given the increased sentiment towards investing in other asset classes - in particular property. As has been well documented in the media over recent months, the property market in the UAE is building momentum which reflects the growing confidence of investors based here,” Waterfield added.
 
Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate consultancy, said last month Dubai had seen a steady recovery in the property market through the year, with villa prices rising by over 20 per cent year-on-year in the first half of 2012.

Cluttons, a real estate consultancy, has said price of apartments rose by nearly five per cent since the beginning of 2012 and the trend is likely to continue. In the first nine months of 2012, property transactions in Dubai have crossed Dh 83 billion, Dubai Land Department has said.

Investor Attitude survey was conducted by Ignition House, a specialist financial services market research agency, and SKOPOS, a multi-country market research consultancy, specializing in the digital space. Online/ phone to web interviews were conducted in the same period for all three countries (the UAE, Hong Kong and Singapore) during October 15 to 30 to ensure that respondents were answering the questions in a similar financial market environment.

The total sample size for survey one was just over 1,500 to ensure the collection of robust data. In the UAE, respondents were only expats with 68 per cent being non-resident Indians, 25 per cent from Asia – other, five per cent from Europe/Americas/Australia and two per cent from Africa.

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