UAE Expats prefer saving money outside the country

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Poll highlights untapped opportunity for UAE banks to attract savers

Expats in the UAE prefer saving money outside the country
Expats in the UAE prefer saving money outside the country

AED1.4 trillion (USD 381 billion) is the total bank deposits in UAE banks.

Almost half of UAE residents surveyed by, a UAE-based finance comparison website, said they choose to save their money in bank accounts outside their country of residence.

More than 48% of respondents of the annual survey, which seeks to measure consumer finance habits, claimed they are more confident with banking systems in their home countries. Jon Richards, CEO of, said the results indicate that UAE financial institutions may be missing out on an opportunity and need to do more to keep residents’ savings onshore.

“When you look at the results, a significant number or 65.5% of the survey respondents claimed to be saving between 10% and over 50% of their salary every month. With millions of Dirhams leaving the country every year, there appears to be huge potential for UAE banks to attract regular savers,” Richards added.

The banks need to work with the UAE Central Bank to look at initiatives that will incentivize expats workers to keep money earned here in the country. At present, many expats feel more comfortable saving with banks in their home country as they understand the system and feel comfortable with banking regulations. Accounts in the Isle of Man are protected by the Compensation of Depositor Regulations.

Damian Hitchen, Sales Director – Middle East & Asia of Swissquote Bank, said: “Expatriates in MENA are increasingly looking for safe, easy-to-use and flexible offshore banking and investment providers. Based on the growth of our Expat account alone in 2014 we see a big demand for assets held outside the region, giving them a centralized account for their global savings that are accessible round the clock”

Despite the large number of residents sending money abroad, renewed economic confidence in recent years has seen UAE banks flush with liquidity. According to the UAE Central Bank, total bank deposits of UAE banks climbed by 1.4% year-on-year in June to AED1.4 trillion (USD381 billion).

“Instituting proactive financial service reforms will be a critical step towards encouraging expats to keep their money in UAE banks. Providing transparent mechanisms that protect depositors will undoubtedly increase deposits with local banks giving them greater access to retail funds. This will lead to cheaper forms of credit while strengthening the resiliency of UAE’s financial sector during times of crisis.” said Richards.

Are you an expatriate based in the UAE/Middle East? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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