44% of MENA professionals expect their personal finances to improve in the next six months, according to Bayt.com and YouGov survey
55% of MENA residents believe business conditions will also become better
The latest Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) Survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the Middle East’s number one job site, and YouGov, a research and consulting organisation, shows that residents in the region are anticipating the cost of living to increase in the coming year, although their financial positions have not improved. In the UAE, only 22% of respondents claim that they are in a better position now compared to six months ago. However, MENA respondents have an optimistic outlook for the months to come, with 44% expecting their personal or family’s financial situation to improve in the next six months.
Personal Economic Situation
Only 18% of respondents across the MENA region claim that they are in a better financial position now than they were six months ago. Only 15% across the region say that their savings have increased in the last year, with 25% saying they have remained the same. However, hope for the future is high, with 44% expecting their financial situation to improve in the next six months.
Conversely, 78% believe that the cost of living in their country will increase. Only 32% will look to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months (of which the majority (48%) will opt for a used vehicle), and only 20% are looking to buy property within the same time frame. Those intending to invest in property will primarily look for new (57%) apartments.
In terms of smaller purchases, desktop or laptop computers remain the most popular anticipated purchase (27%), followed by furniture (18%) and LCD or Plasma televisions (17%).
In the UAE
As far as their current financial situation is concerned, 46% of UAE respondents say that there has been no change in the past six months, while 22% claim there has been an improvement; half (49%) say that their savings have depleted in comparison to last year. However, with 56% believing that things will be better in the coming six months, the UAE is one of the most optimistic countries in the region. Despite this optimism, 71% believe that the cost of living in the country will increase within the same timeframe.
The majority of UAE residents (48%) are not considering buying a personal vehicle in the next 12 months. Of the 39% who claim they are looking to make a purchase, 45% will choose to buy a new vehicle, while 46% will opt for a used one. In terms of property, only 23% are looking to invest; interests lie in buying new apartments.
Desktop or laptop computers (27%), furniture (21%) and LCD or plasma televisions (18%) will be the top purchases made in the coming six months.
Country’s Economic Situation
While the overall regional sentiment towards the present economic situation is negative with 44% of MENA respondents claiming it has grown worse in comparison to six months earlier, vast disparities are recorded between countries, with as much as 71% separating the two extremes. Unsurprisingly, the disparity very much has to do with the political landscape affecting different countries in the MENA. In Syria, for example, 85% claim the situation now is worse, while in politically-stable countries like Oman, Qatar and UAE, only 14% of respondents claim the same. Business conditions are, for the most part, considered to be average or good, especially in GCC countries, and 33% of MENA professionals believe there are few jobs available now across few industries.
Expectations for the future are high in the majority of countries, with most expecting the national economic situation to be better, and all anticipating better business conditions. Yet, there is little anticipation for more jobs to be available; only 29% state there will be an increase in employment opportunities, while 28% say things will stay the same.
“At Bayt.com, our mission is to empower people to lead their lifestyle of choice,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Sales, Bayt.com. “This of course is very much related to finding the right job that satisfies professionals in terms of compensation, type of work, and work-life balance. Our team works in 12 different offices around the MENA to make sure that we have as many job opportunities as possible available free of charge for our members, in an easy-to-use format that makes the process of finding a job as simple as possible. In order to further increase hiring opportunities for our members, we also have the JobsLite product, which offers free job postings to small-to-medium businesses in the region.”
In the UAE
Respondents in the UAE are the most positive in the region in respect to their opinion of the country’s current economic situation, with 44% stating that it has improved in the last six months, and 43% claiming that business conditions now are either ‘good’ or ‘very good’. The outlook for the UAE’s future is also bright; 64% believe that the economic situation will continue to improve; 71% anticipate better business conditions; and 46% think there will be more jobs available.
Current Job Perspective
Hiring and downsizing rates seem to be relatively balanced on the regional level. In comparison to six months ago, 29% of respondents say they now have fewer colleagues; 34% say that there has been no difference, and 30% say that their company has hired more employees. There is an even split between respondents when it comes to their predictions for the future: an equal 35% state that their company will have more or the same number of employees in the next six months.
The majority of respondents (41%) are currently satisfied with their career growth opportunities in their current job, though 46% are dissatisfied with their compensation and allowances, compared to just 33% who are happy. In terms of non-monetary benefits, 43% are happy, while 38% aren’t. In terms of job security, 41% claim to be satisfied.
In the UAE
According to respondents, the UAE ranks fifth in the MENA region in terms of company growth in the last six months, with 36% stating there are now more employees than before. Four in ten respondents (44%) believe their company will hire in the next six months.
Job satisfaction levels are relatively high in comparison to the region. Respondent in the UAE are satisfied with their career growth opportunities (44%), non-monetary benefits (47%) and job security (44%). However, while 34% claim to be satisfied with their current compensation, 39% are unhappy with it.
“There is a lot of conflicted sentiment across the region at present, with clear disparities between regions within the MENA – especially between the GCC, and the Levant and North Africa. The GCC seems to be faring especially well on the whole, with Oman, Qatar, KSA and the UAE coming out amongst the highest in terms of current status and future prospects,” said Masri. “Bayt.com’s CCI Survey allows us to examine the region as a whole, delving specifically into those areas that most affect job seekers.”
Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov, commented that: “The disparity between regions in the MENA is to be expected, given current events in those countries with the lowest positive responses. However, there is a brighter outlook for the region as a whole, with the majority of people looking forward to an improved business environment; this, in turn, should boost employment and economic situations.”
Data for the quarterly Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index survey (March 2013) was collected online from February 12 to 28, 2013, with 16,379 respondents aged over 18 years, covering the GCC, North Africa, Levant, Western Expatriate and Asian. Countries that participated are UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.