By Tamara Walid
Travelling, shopping and spending were the three main consumer trends in the Middle East last year.
Travelling, shopping and spending were the three main consumer trends in the Middle East and the UAE in 2006, according to the latest MasterCard lifestyle survey. The survey also revealed that shoppers in the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia enjoy high levels of consumer confidence.
The study showed that every consumer surveyed in the UAE planned to travel in the next 12 months with 84% travelling for personal reasons, 2% for business and 14% for both. In the Middle East and Levant around 74% of consumers surveyed said they were planning to travel out of their country over the course of the year.
The survey stated that the majority of UAE travellers owned some kind of payment bank card which was either a credit card (65%), a debit card (71%) or a prepaid card (37%). While credit cards are becoming more popular as a payment method, the survey added, travellers still maintain a preference to use credit cards.
On the issue of credit card holders in the UAE skipping the country without clearing off their balances, Thomas Edelmann, vice president of MasterCard for the South Asia, Middle East and Africa region, said: "I think our bank partners are getting more sophisticated in terms of their scoring exercises and overall I can imagine that these rates are going down because more and more diligence is exercised by banks.
"Here are very strongly-growing markets and we grow as we go. This might mean there are a few deficiencies in the beginning but banks get smarter and smarter."
The MasterCard survey also detected an increase in spending with 79% of consumers stating they are planning to spend more this year on personal travel. Among consumers surveyed in the UAE, 84% intend to spend more. Half of the UAE's consumers anticipated they would spend more. Spending on business travel is also set to increase with 59% of consumers stating they were willing to spend more.
When travelling on holiday, shopping ranked as the most enjoyed activity amounting to 61% of all activities. This, was even higher among UAE consumers with 82% ranking shopping as their main holiday activity.For all the latest banking and finance news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.