UAE residents switching to more sustainable lifestyle

Whilst there is a lot of eagerness to be more eco-conscious, residents feel that there is a distinct lack of sustainable products on the market to support this need


Rohma Sadaqat

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Four in ten UAE residents said that they plan to make more sustainable choices for the rest of 2022 - KT file
Four in ten UAE residents said that they plan to make more sustainable choices for the rest of 2022 - KT file

Published: Tue 29 Mar 2022, 8:49 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 Mar 2022, 9:16 AM

Residents across the UAE are increasingly making choices which reduce their impact on the environment, and pledging to lead more sustainable lives in 2022.

New research has shown that businesses have also taken note of this trend and have tailored their products and services to be more eco-friendly.

According to a recent survey conducted by Censuswide, on behalf of Ariel Middle East, a region-wide drive towards a greener future has meant that environmentally friendly lifestyle choices are high on the agenda for UAE residents. The results of the survey revealed that 83 per cent of people in the UAE are aware of their environmental footprint, and the impact of their purchasing choices on the planet. The survey also shows that four in ten people plan to make more sustainable choices for the rest of 2022, with 35 to 44-year olds being the biggest age group in the UAE who aspires to be more sustainable.

In addition, 80 per cent say that they are actively trying to influence friends and family to lead a more sustainable lifestyle. However, whilst there is a lot of eagerness to be more eco-conscious, the results also found that 35 per cent of respondents feel that there is a distinct lack of sustainable products on the market to support this need, with a further 31 per cent admitting a lack of awareness when it comes to adopting more sustainable habits. One in five even confess that they simply don’t know where to start.

Norma Taki, PwC Middle East’s Consumer Markets leader, explained that a range of factors, from mass remote working to tech-driven regional transformation, have changed and continue to change consumer shopping habits and attitudes. It is clear now, she said, that these changes are here to stay.

The latest edition of PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey showed that Middle East shoppers are increasingly influenced by sustainability issues, and are prioritising their health and wellbeing. The survey highlights a general shift in consumer behaviour as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the staying power of these changes. The survey results showed that 67 per cent of Middle East shoppers believe that they are now healthier, compared to 51 per cent globally. At 65 per cent, Middle East shoppers are also more digital, versus 53 per cent globally.

They are also more likely than ever to take into account sustainability considerations when making a purchase. In fact, 60 per cent of regional respondents believe that they are more eco-friendly than six months ago and 53 per cent are always, or frequently, buying eco-friendly products, compared to 42 per cent globally.

“As consumer optimism continues to grow in the region, it is essential that retailers and consumer companies take note of these shifting trends and adapt their priorities and strategies accordingly,” said Taki.

Another study by FedEx Express also offered some key insights on the priorities of the younger generation in the UAE. Titled, ‘Future is Now’, the study noted that there is a substantial shift in the way generations are embracing ‘what's next’, with new technologies, and an interest in sustainability impacting both business and individual lifestyles. It was found that 35 per cent of Gen Z respondents associated the phrase ‘Future is Now’ with technology advances in business, healthcare, education, and transportation; 33 per cent to sustainable development; and 20 per cent to the rise in the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

The study also highlighted that 24 per cent of Gen Z respondents would consider a company’s sustainability agenda and its way of conducting business as a critical measure for choosing work.

Towards this end, another research report by Cloudera revealed that environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) has been identified as a top priority for business leaders, and that those who fail to act for the good of communities put business growth and talent at huge risk. The survey found that 33 per cent of UAE business decision-makers and knowledge workers believe that their respective companies should publicly support sustainable business practices.

More than 25 per cent of business decision-makers in the UAE are now increasingly investing in ESG ahead of developing new products/services or growing shareholder value. Most knowledge workers also believe as much as 49 per cent of the data their business uses on a day-to-day basis should be focused on doing good for the communities it serves. This is a sentiment 66 per cent of business decision-makers agree with – a clear indication that profit and ESG are no longer mutually exclusive pursuits.

“In my opinion, businesses, regardless of the industry they operate in, should today act in a socially responsible manner. As the research points out, doing this can start with data. Companies can, and should, use big data and AI to make more sustainable business decisions,” said Karim Azar, regional director, Middle East & Turkey, Cloudera.

Roy Hintze, partner of Consumer Markets at PwC Middle East, added: “Moving forward, it is essential that consumer companies adapt and respond to shifts in consumer behaviour by developing a true omni-channel customer experience, embedding ESG in their supply chains, building sustainable product portfolios and prioritising data privacy.”

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