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UAE residents most stressed by debt and financial issues

Middle East: Monday, September 23 - 2013 @ 00:00

Financial insecurity is one of the main concerns for UAE residents, according to a recent survey by research company YouGov.

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

The Central Bank and other financial institutions are reporting a record debt surge in the UAE this year. A week-long community initiative was set up recently to enable and empower people to improve financial health across the emirates. The survey, in collaboration with ‘UAE Saves Week’, polled 1,011 residents to assess attitudes towards money management.

The founder and CEO of cashy.me, the firm behind the awareness week, said the results are not unexpected.

“The results only confirm, with quantifiable evidence, the general sense of money management among residents in the UAE,” said Nima Abu-Wardeh. “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 per cent) of the surveyed respondents confirmed they had no savings plan in place. Perhaps the most worrying result was that more than 60 per cent 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 per cent 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,” continued Abu-Wardeh.

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.

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Monday, September 23- 2013 @ 0:00 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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