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UAE are top spenders in Mena

By Nadim Kawach

The UAE has the most extravagant people in the Arab world with each of its 8.2 million people spending a whopping average of $21,577 in 2010.

Other oil-rich Gulf countries were ahead of the remaining Arab nations but far lagged behind the UAE, according to a new official study.

Domestic consumption in the UAE, involving consumer spending by individuals, totalled $176.9 billion during 2010, the highest in the Arab world, showed the report by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund (AMF).

With a population of nearly 8.2 million at the end of 2010, individual average spending stood at $21,577 during that year.

The UAE was far ahead of Qatar although that country has remained on top of the region in terms of GDP per capita.

Qatar’s domestic consumption stood at around $24.76 billion while its population was estimated at nearly 1.69 million people at the end of 2010. This means its individual average spending stood at 14,650.

Saudi Arabia had the second largest domestic consumption in the region at around $157.4 billion. But its population is as high as three times that of the UAE and this means its individual average spending stood at $5,808 for a population of nearly 27.1 million. The level is nearly a fourth that of the UAE.

Domestic consumption in Kuwait, another major OPEC oil producer, was estimated at $37.81 billion in 2010 while its population stood at nearly 3.58 million, which means its individual average spending stood at $10,651.

Bahrain, another Gulf country with little oil, had an individual spending of around $5,538 while its domestic consumption was estimated at about $7.2 billion. Oman’s consumer spending stood at $21.4 billion. With a population of about 3.4 million, its average individual spending amounted to $6,295.

Outside the Gulf, Egypt emerged with the third largest domestic consumption of about $162.8 billion but given its massive population of nearly 78.6 million, its individual spending was relatively low at around $2,071 in 2010.

Despite is massive oil resources, Libya also had a relatively low average individual spending at around $2,818, with its domestic consumption standing at $21.78 and population at 7.7 million.

In contrast, Lebanon had a relatively high individual spending rate of around $7,975 although it is not an oil exporter. Its domestic spending was among the highest levels in the region at around $31.9 in 2010 while its population was relatively low at around four million at the end of the year.

Comoros and Djibouti had the lowest individual spending rate in the Arab world, standing at $773 and $938 respectively.

The report showed the UAE maintained its position as the largest Arab economy after Saudi Arabia, with its nominal GDP standing at $297.6 billion during 2010. It accounted for nearly 14.6 per cent of the total Arab GDP of $2.027 trillion.

Saudi Arabia’s GDP stood at $447.7 billion in current prices, accounting for 22 per cent of the combined Arab economy.

Egypt was the third largest economy, with a nominal GDP of $218 billion, followed by Algeria with $161.9 billion, Qatar with around $128.5 billion, Iraq with nearly $121.3 billion and Morocco with about $91.3 billion. Comoros had the smallest GDP of around $557 million.