UAE residents top spenders in the Arab world

(SATISH KUMAR)    


 

People in the UAE spend about $20,000 (Dh73,400) a year each on consumer goods and services – the highest average of all the Arab nations, according to a new report. Bankers said the figure was a result of the country’s high per capita income, rapid economic growth, liberalism and socio-economic stability.


The UAE has also emerged as the second largest investor in the Arab world after Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, providing more than 12 per cent of total investment.

In 2006 the UAE’s private consumption – covering spending by individuals and families on goods and services – totalled $84 billion.

The figure works out as $19,761 per individual for a population of 4.25 million, according to the 2007 economic report issued this week by the Abu Dhabi-based Arab Monetary Fund.

The level is far higher than spending in all other Arab countries. The total for second-placed Qatar was around $10.07bn, or an average of $12,500 per person. “There are several factors that have made the UAE the top spender in the Arab world,” said an Abu Dhabi-based banker. “They include its high per capita income, liberal system, steady growth in the economy, and financial, economic and social stability. Another factor that has to be taken into account is high inflation.”

Kuwait ranked third, with its private consumption totalling $27.8bn or an individual average of nearly $9,266. Bahrain emerged as the fourth largest spender despite its relatively low oil wealth, with private consumption standing at $5.6bn or average of $7,587 per person. Oman and Lebanon were ahead of Saudi Arabia – even though the Kingdom controls nearly a quarter of the world’s oil and has the fourth largest gas reserves.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s high total consumption of nearly $88.8bn, which surpassed that of the UAE, average individual spending stood at around $3,764 for a population of nearly 23.6m, almost six times that of the UAE. The report showed Mauritania, one of the poorest Arab nations, had the lowest individual spending, standing at just $362. Djibouti also had a low average of around $795, while the report gives no figures for Somalia and the Palestinians.
 
In investment, where the UAE ranked second, the total figure including both private and public capital was around $34.7bn. This amounted to approximately 12.7 per cent of the total Arab investment of nearly $267bn in 2006. Saudi Arabia was the largest investor, with around $62.4bn. But in terms of investment-to-GDP ratio the UAE was the Arab world’s number one.
 
The report gives no figures for 2007 but the UAE is expected to have maintained its position given the surge in the economy and income levels. Other key investors include Egypt with $20bn, Morocco with $19.8bn, Kuwait with $19.1bn, and Qatar with nearly 18.7bn.
 
 
 
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