Qatar residents savings sentiments
decline, says National Bonds Index

DUBAI — Residents of Qatar show the biggest decrease in savings sentiments, while Saudi Arabia shows the biggest overall increase, closely followed by Oman and Kuwait, according to the results of the 2011 National Bonds GCC Savings Index, released on Sunday by National Bonds Corporation PJSC, the UAE-based Shariah-compliant savings scheme and investment company.

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Published: Mon 26 Sep 2011, 10:57 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 5:56 AM

The research reveals some startling differences in savings habits among residents of the different Gulf countries, reflecting the economic environment. Oman, for example, had the highest percentage of respondents who are spending more money on groceries, utility bills and eating out, but the lowest across the entire GCC in terms of spending more on buying luxury products and travel outside their country. The survey covered 1,107 residents of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, gathering insight into their attitudes towards the current savings environment, their own savings potential and their outlook on the future. The GCC Index, now in its second year, complements the annual National Bonds UAE Savings Index to provide a comprehensive overview of saving sentiments across the GCC.

Ninety percent of Saudi residents and 84 percent of other GCC countries (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar) believe that their savings are not adequate for their future. In addition, an average of 68 percent of respondents across all five countries admitted that their savings are less than they had originally planned, revealing a need for better education on the mechanisms and tools of savings. The majority of respondents (64 percent) said that they save less than a fifth of their monthly income. On the positive side, 60 percent of the respondents in Saudi Arabia and 63 percent in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain displayed optimism, with plans to start or increase their savings in the next six months. While personal priorities differed amongst GCC residents, children’s education was unanimously chosen as one of the top reasons for saving money. For residents of Saudi Arabia, purchase of property to live in was the number one reason for savings, and the factor was similarly prioritised among other GCC countries apart from Kuwait, where it was only the fifth highest priority. Interestingly, the number one reason for savings in Oman was for weddings, a factor which featured lower on the list for all other countries.

Expenditure on groceries was the biggest reason for increase in spending across all countries, followed by utility bills and household items. Interestingly, eating out was also one of the biggest expenditures across the GCC, with 28 percent of all respondents citing it as a cause for increased spending.

The savings instruments being used the most by residents of the GCC were simple current bank accounts or bank savings accounts. Bahrain had the highest percentage of people using savings scheme linked to a prize draw (34 percent), Saudi Arabia (4 percent) and Qatar (5 percent). In addition, Qatar had the highest number of people using gold as a savings instrument (16 percent). The overall top three factors taken into consideration when choosing a savings instrument were Sharia-compliance, reputation of the provider and attractive annual returns. Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, CEO of National Bonds Corporation, said: “Our UAE and GCC Savings Indices have become eagerly awaited measurement tools, revealing the extent to which positive savings sentiment are being shared or rejected among the people in our communities. This year’s results show that challenges still exist in different scales in the six GCC states.”

“One of the positives we take from the results is that there is willingness to save, with over two thirds of the GCC population indicating plans to start saving this year, and a strong preference for Sharia-compliant products with strong returns and a credible reputation such as National Bonds. This opens up many more opportunities for us in the near future to fill a gap in the market, which we intend to capitalise on,” he added.

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