By Andy Sambidge
MasterCard's Worldwide Index shows Middle East consumers are upbeat over prospects for H2 2011
Consumer confidence in the UAE about the coming six months has risen to record levels, according to the results of the latest MasterCard survey.
Its Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence showed the UAE's score had soared to 95.6, showing significant improvement from six months ago (73.6), a year ago (82.4) and even 18 months ago (86.1).
In fact, the latest consumer confidence score for the UAE is the highest that it has been since 2004 and is significantly higher than markets such as China (78.3), Hong Kong (69.9) and India (75.2).
The MasterCard index is based on prevailing expectations in the market for the next six months based on five economic indicators - Economy, Employment, Stock Market, Regular Income and Quality of Life.
UAE consumers were most optimistic about the economy (96.2) and regular income (96.1) and least optimistic about employment (94.7).
The survey also revealed that male consumers in the UAE tended to be more optimistic about their prospects for the coming months as compared to female consumers (97.2 vs 93.6).
It also showed that those under 30 years of age were more positive than consumers over the age of 30 (98.2 vs 93.5).
Raghu Malhotra, general manager, Middle East, MasterCard Worldwide, said: “It is very encouraging to see that UAE consumer sentiment is continuing its upward momentum and is expected to reach a record high in the coming months.
"The findings are in line with the recent trends that we have observed in the market with retail, travel and hospitality sectors, in particular, registering a significant upturn."
Overall, in the Middle East, consumer confidence has gone up significantly compared to six months ago (83.4 vs 71.6), with all five economic indicators increasing.
The Middle East’s aggregate score of 83.4 was also substantially higher than that of Asia/Pacific (61.5) and Africa (73.8).
According to the index, consumer confidence was highest in Oman with a score of 99.0 but it is worth nothing that this is the first time Oman is being included in the survey, so there are no previous comparable scores.
Saudi Arabia (the highest scoring market in the survey six months ago with a score of 95.1) further increased its score to 98.6, the index added
Lebanon was the only Middle East market whose score fell in the latest index, down from 54.3 six months ago to 15.0.
The Index score is calculated with zero as the most pessimistic, 100 as most optimistic and 50 as neutral.
The latest survey was conducted from March to April 2011 and involved 17,620 consumers from 25 markets.
Are the people in this survey living on the same planet i'm on?!
Lebanon scored 15 while Saudi Arabia scored 98.6, why the huge difference between these two markets? Is the economy in Saudi Arabi really that much better than Lebanon?
These type of surveys are usually a good contrarian indicator. I imagine consumer confidence was also pretty high just before the 2008 market crash.
totally agree with your comments Jack J. How genuine are these results coming from a "trusted" source like "mastercard" . I can only imagine goldman sachs, lehman brothers & AIG getting AA+ and even AAA rating before they went crashing into oblivion in 2008.... I hope this is not a call for consumers to increase their credit spending.