UAE’s higher cost of living leads to even thinner wallets

August 11, 2015 4:10 pm


Living costs continue to rise at a noticeable rate in the UAE, prompting residents to tighten their belts and think twice before spending their hard-earned salaries.

Last May, a sharp uptick in housing and utility prices was seen to have driven inflation in Dubai to 4.68 per cent, its highest levels since 2009 according to the Dubai Statistics Centre. Some considered the rise to be temporary, but others were less optimistic, warning against continuous escalations in living costs leading up to Expo 2020.

The rise in inflation was also regarded to be a direct result to grocery prices being marked up by retailers during the holy Month of Ramadan and in the summer season in general.

To help residents cope with their expenditures, banks and financial operators roll out credit card benefits, one of which is the Titanium Credit Card by Standard Chartered Bank, amongst other payment facilitators.

Holders of the Standard Chartered Titanium Credit Card can save on their grocery shopping as well as on utilities such as internet bills, TV subscriptions, Salik and more. Additionally, holders can save on school fees and receive other exciting privileges.

Such solutions allow residents to ride the wave of increasing costs without compromising on their lifestyle or purchasing habits. Also, these prove particularly useful during the summer season, when utility bills increase and grocery shopping becomes more frequent.

This seasonality of shopping during summer and especially during Ramadan has become an increasingly popular subject, which is taken up by numerous surveys and reports focused on consumers’ spending behaviours.

For example, a survey recently conducted by international internet-based market research firm, YouGov revealed that consumers in the Middle East and the North African region experience a shift in their overall lifestyle during Ramadan, with a vast majority (60 per cent) admitting to shopping more frequently and spending more. Consumers also said that they prefer to make their larger annual purchases during Ramadan, shown by the survey.

Signalling the growing desire of residents to better understand and plan their personal finances and expenditures, Compareit4me, a UAE-based financial comparison website, has reported a 70 per cent increase in user applications in the UAE.

“In the past years, we have seen a huge increase in the number of people applying during Ramadan,” CEO of the UAE-based financial comparison website, said earlier this month.

“The first few weeks of Ramadan 2015 achieved even greater numbers and have exceeded our expectations. [This] can be largely attributed to the earlier arrival of the Holy Month and the fact that children were still in school,” he added.

While the automotive industry may create news headlines with its annual promotions during summer, it is the smaller, usually unplanned, payments on items such as groceries and utilities that may weigh residents down further.

Below are a few tips to help you save up on groceries and utilities, two of the top expenses, during this season:

  • Don’t shop when hungry: This age-old advice is gold. Going grocery shopping on an empty stomach prompts you to buy things you don’t need.
  • Every dirham makes a difference: Comparing the prices of food items and home appliances at different supermarkets can help you purchase the same items at much lower prices.
  • Be smart about your payment: A good financial solution may be right there in your wallet. Whether it is your credit card benefits, payment plans, or other offers and promotions offered by your bank, learn about the benefits you are entitled to and you can save a fortune.
  • Be smart about your consumption: Little things like closing the water tap when you’re brushing your teeth or switching off the air-conditioning when you’re out of the house can help you save quite a lot by the end of the month.

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Mujeeb Rahman
By Mujeeb Rahman
Journalist
Mujeeb Rahman is a business journalist at AMEinfo. His areas of focus include economy, markets, politics and international relations in MENA and Asia-Pacific regions. An ex-BBC digital journalist, he delves deeper into the subjects that matter most.



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