Mixed feelings about economy and personal finance in MENA in 2013
Bayt.com is one of the few companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region that conduct quarterly consumer confidence surveys to gauge feelings and perceptions about the economy in general, but also about personal finance, employment, likelihood to purchase, and the job market. Results from these surveys help decision makers find patterns and derive useful information. But they also help you and I get an idea of how people in MENA perceive the job market, the economy, and their own financial situation.
Going through the results of the latest Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index Survey (March 2013), I felt a bit overwhelmed. Numbers were flying all over the screen; some were positive, while others expressed a certain degree of skepticism about the condition of the economy in the region for the next six months.
For example, while only 15% of respondents across the region said that their savings have increased in the past year, 44% expect their financial situation to actually improve in the next six months. Call it optimism.
Similarly, only 18% of respondents across the MENA region claim that they are in a better financial position now than they were six months ago, yet fellows in the GCC claim that their country’s economy has had a positive change in the last six months, and expect their national economies to improve in the next six months.
Disparities between the MENA countries
In general, the Arab Spring countries are not well placed, with 48% from Syria, for example, expecting their situation to worsen in the coming months (a whopping 85% in Syria claim that the situation now is worse than it was six months ago). Egypt, Syria and Jordan are also more likely to expect an increase in the cost of living (78% regionally).
Long story short, GCC countries – which enjoy stable political and economic conditions – are more optimistic than their regional counterparts. GCC countries have reported higher job availability, better business conditions, and a higher optimism about their personal finances and countries’ economies for the next six months.
On a regional level, 78% believe that the cost of living will increase. Consequently, only 32% will look to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months (of which the majority will opt for a used vehicle), and only 20% are looking to buy property within the same time frame.
From the above, it is evident that events taking place in some of the MENA countries clearly affect feelings and aspirations in those countries. The good news is that there is a somewhat brighter outlook for the region as a whole, with the majority of people looking forward to an improved business environment which, in turn, should boost employment and the financial situation of individuals in the region.
For more stats and facts of the overall confidence in the region for the next few months, download the latest Bayt.com Consumer Confidence Index Survey.
Bayt.com has a regular calendar of research reports, polls and surveys that are published monthly. Keep an eye on these reports to stay up-to-date with the region’s latest news and insights!
Photo Credit: Hazel Thompson