Gulf consumers optimistic about their economies; Levant uncertain [Report]

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Despite the prevalence of intense conflict in Syria and Egypt, consumers in the Arab world are feeling more optimistic about regional economies than they were six months ago, according to the latest YouGov Consumer Confidence Index survey.

The survey, which polled 6,585 respondents, most of whom were single, and employed full-time in the private sector, reveals widely varying attitudes about personal finance, macroeconomic prospects, and current job prospects in each Arab country.

Major findings include: 

  • In the Gulf,consumers are cautiously optimistic about the future; 46% expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next six months, yet 71% (mostly from Saudi Arabia and the UAE) say they also expect cost of living to increase in the next six months. 
  • Qatar, ironically, is one of the best-perceived places for business at present in the region, among its local population (53% of respondents said that conditions in Qatar are ‘good’ or ‘very good’). Unsuprisingly, the highest percentage of respondents in the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, and Oman thought that jobs were readily available in a variety of sectors.
  • In North Africa, consumers have high expectations for positive economic change. Across North Africa, a similar number to the Gulf (44% on average across Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia) expect their personal financial situation to improve in the next six months, and 55% on average expect business conditions to improve over the next six months.
  • Especially in Egypt, consumers are optimistic that things will get better. Forty-seven percent of Egyptians are confident that their economy will improve over the next six months, with 64% anticipating better business conditions in that time period. Yet only 31% think there will actually be more jobs created, and 51% say that currently, the situation is worse than it was six months ago. 
  • Consumers in the Levant are the most pessimistic (realistic?) about the future. An overwhelming 90% of respondents in Jordan said that they expect the cost of living in Jordan to increase, and 43% say their finances are worse now than they were six months ago. Given the country's recent tax hikes, government spending cuts, and Syrian refugees influx, this is unsurprising. 
  • Syrians are, unsurprisingly, not optimistic about the future. In both Lebanon and Jordan, 88% of respondents said that their personal finances were the same or worse than they were six months ago; in Syria, the numbers rose to 93%. Ninety-two percent of Syrian residents predict that the economy will stay the same or get worse over the next six months, with 80% saying that business conditions will also stay the same or get worse. 78% say that jobs in Syria are currently scarce.

To read more, download the Consumer Confidence Index survey here.

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