Debt and Financial issues biggest causes of stress among UAE residents

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Study reveals that almost 50% of UAE residents do not have a savings plan

UAE Saves Week
UAE Saves Week

Financial insecurity is one of the biggest concerns for UAE residents, according to a recent survey by research company YouGov. This is not surprising given reports by the Central Bank and banking institutions on consumer debt in the UAE seeing a record surge this year.

The total UAE household debt was recorded at over USD 114bn in June of 2012, which translates to USD 95,000 of debt per household.

In collaboration with ‘UAE Saves Week’ – a week-long community initiative that launches today and aims to enable and empower people to improve their financial health – YouGov surveyed 1,011 residents in the UAE to assess attitudes and responsibilities towards money management. Developed by www.cashy.me – the Arab world’s first online platform for financial empowerment – UAE Saves Week aims to help people manage their money better by challenging them with small, attainable, bite-sized ‘saving’ goals throughout the week.

Results of the survey confirmed that financial concerns and debt are the biggest causes of stress among residents, with more than a third (34%) of the respondents citing this. Of these, 57% stated they have a long way to go before becoming debt-free. The good news, however, is that 55% of this population is ready to make lifestyle changes to get out of their current situation.

According to Nima Abu-Wardeh, Founder & CEO of www.cashy.me, the results are not unexpected but are an essential reminder of the need for financial empowerment in the UAE.

“The results only confirm, with quantifiable evidence, the general sense of money management among residents in the UAE. In the last three years of running the cashy platform, we have had numerous requests from people asking for help in managing their money and also hear of several scenarios of people drowning in debt everyday – this is a really serious concern that needs to be tackled as early on as possible. There is a lot of free literature on financial management but we know that it is easier said than done. We launched UAE Saves Week with the objective of helping people take the first steps towards saving money and hopefully, to continue to practice these lessons for the rest of their lives,” she said.

Almost half (48%) of the surveyed respondents confirmed they had no savings plan in place. Perhaps the most worrying result was that more than 60% of the people surveyed stated they would be able to survive less than six months if cut-off from their current source of income, while 15% of the population stated they had no savings whatsoever.

Now in its second year, UAE Saves Week brings to the community an educational, interactive and engaging way of taking on those financial challenges they have been putting off for so long. Organisers of the initiative have developed a series of themed goals for each day of the week to break down saving lessons into simple behaviours that are easy to adapt, but have proven to go a long way in transforming people’s financial lives.

“We have been hearing about concerns regarding personal financial health in the UAE for a long time now and they are ever-increasing. Fast-paced lifestyles, tax-free living and high disposable incomes all contribute to this and easy access to external sources of income aggravates the trend further. Never has there been a better time for residents to step up and take control of their financial lives. UAE Saves Week is dedicated to helping people to physically make small changes in their lives that will ultimately lead to better financial health and overall happiness,” said Nima Abu-Wardeh.

Using the exceptional sharing capabilities and viral reach of social media, UAE Saves Week requires people to use applications such as twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share money-saving advice, experiences as well as pictures of pledges taken and successes achieved throughout the week. The cashy platform is also being used to share photos and useful content by the organisers and the event’s supporters.

The initiative has already gained momentum in the community following its announcement a few weeks ago and is building a healthy spirit of financial commitment and collaboration among people. The programme’s endorsement by a number of influential business and community leaders has also helped to spread the message of ‘saving’. In addition to the online initiative, a series of exciting complimentary meet-ups, workshops and money-clinics have been organised throughout the week that are open to anyone and everyone.

UAE Saves Week has also garnered the support of leading organisations such as Emirates NBD, Air Arabia, Yahoo! Arabia, National Bonds, Mashreq Bank, The Entertainer and biz-group. Going by the response from the community, organisers hope to develop this into a wider programme next year that involves corporates as well.

For more information on UAE Saves Week, go to www.cashy.me/uaesw. Follow @cashyME on twitter and @cashygram on Instagram for more updates on UAE Saves week. To participate, share your photos on the cashy photo gallery and on social media platforms using the hash tag #UAESaves.

About UAE Saves Week:

UAE Saves Week is a community initiative that aims to enable UAE residents to manage money more responsibly by breaking down saving lessons into small, measurable and attainable goals. Taking place from 22 – 28 September 2013, UAE Saves Week was developed by www.cashy.me, the Arab world’s first online platform for financial empowerment. The initiative seeks to empower individuals to make those small everyday changes that will go a long way in improving their financial health and overall happiness. The week-long initiative challenges individuals to undertake simple pledges on each day of the event and share their success with the online community via social media platforms such as Instagram and twitter. UAE Saves Week is supported by leading organisations including Emirates NBD, Air Arabia, National Bonds, The Entertainer and biz-group.

For more updates on UAE Saves Week, visit www.cashy.me/uaesw or follow @cashyME on twitter and @cashygram on Instagram

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