Muscat: Residents of Qatar have shown the biggest decrease in savings sentiments, while residents of Bahrain have shown the biggest overall increase, closely followed by the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia, according to the results of the 2012 National Bonds GCC Savings Index, released by National Bonds Corporation.
The results of the index, which converts respondents' attitudes into a base value that can be used to compare countries against themselves or against one another from year to year, showed that over the past year, residents of Bahrain demonstrated the biggest increase in their savings sentiments, followed by the UAE, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Kuwait remained the same as last year, showing no significant improvement or decline, while Qatar regressed for the second year running, slipping even further down the table and highlighting an increasing level of pessimism towards savings in the country.
The trend of intermittent or lack of savings has continued in 2012, with 74 per cent of people in Saudi Arabia and 71 per cent of people in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain admitting that they do not save regularly.
The only country that improved significantly is the UAE, where 65 per cent of respondents made the same claim. Worryingly, 92 per cent of Saudi residents believe that their savings are not adequate for their future — the highest percentage in the region.
Other GCC countries displayed similar pessimism with residents of Kuwait (91%), Bahrain (88%), UAE (87%), Oman (85% cent) and Qatar (84%) all close behind.
The findings of the National Bonds GCC Savings Index, now in its third year, also revealed that just 1 per cent of residents of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait, and 2 per cent of residents of Oman, would class their savings as 'more than enough' for their future.
Kuwait had the highest percentage of respondents who admitted that their savings are less than they had originally planned at 78 per cent, with an average of 71 per cent of respondents across Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman making the same claim, revealing a need for better education on the mechanisms and tools of savings. Of those who do save, 45 per cent of people in the GCC states revealed that they save only 10 per cent of their income or less.
Spending on groceries
On the positive side, two thirds of respondents expressed their plan to start saving in the next six months. Resident of Oman and Kuwait expressed the most interest in increasing their savings in the next 6 months (76 per cent and 70 per cent respectively). Half of those surveyed foresee their income to increase in the next 6-12 months, while only 6 per cent believe that their income may decrease in next 6-12 months.
The National Bonds Savings Index is an annual comprehensive study of the behaviour and attitudes of people in the GCC towards saving and spending money. The survey covered 1,140 residents of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, and 611 residents of the UAE.
While the research reveals differences in savings habits among residents of the different Gulf countries, reflecting the contrasting economic environments of each, it also shows some common challenges. Groceries and everyday amenities remained the items that residents of the GCC countries claim to be spending more money on year on year. In Qatar, the percentage of people spending more money on products and services is higher than any other GCC country.
Qatar residents also lead the tables in increases in spending on eating out (33 per cent) followed by UAE (30 per cent ) and Kuwait (27 per cent) and Oman (26%).