Revealed: How much is UAE residents’ disposable income and where do they spend it?

This is usually categorised as money that has been left over after paying fees, expenses and spending on necessities like housing, food and fuel


Waheed Abbas

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

File photo
File photo

Published: Sun 19 Feb 2023, 10:36 AM

Last updated: Sun 19 Feb 2023, 8:03 PM

With the UAE not levying income tax, residents of the country enjoy a higher disposable income, personal finance advisors have said. Disposable income is usually categorised as money that has been left over after paying fees, expenses and spending on necessities like housing, food, fuel, and school fees.

A new survey released by YouGov showed more UAE residents reported a decrease as opposed to an increase in their disposable income in the past 12 months. However, there is a less pessimistic view on future disposable income, and fewer people expect a fall in disposable income in the next 12 months.

“Due to the favourable zero income tax rate in the UAE, disposable income is generally higher here, but some people either send a lot of this money back to their home country or live beyond their means i.e., spending more money than they can afford to spend. This could be pointless or excessive spending like buying upgrades on flights, designer clothes, expensive dinner,s etc. So, it is all relative,” said Rupert Connor, partner at Abacus Financial Consultants.

Where do residents spend?

The UAE's residents spend their disposable income mainly on lifestyle purchases such as luxury apparel, gadgets, entertainment and expensive dinners, as well as investing in property and cryptocurrencies.

UAE residents’ disposable income in the past 12 months:

  • 42 per cent say decreased
  • 30 per cent claim it remained the same
  • 20 per cent say disposable income increased

In the next 12 months:

  • 35 per cent see a decrease
  • 29 per cent expect to remain the same
  • 24 per cent foresee an increase

Top financial activities of UAE residents in the next 12 months:

  • Regularly put money into savings
  • Pay for health insurance
  • Invest in stocks
  • Pay for home, pet, and car insurance
  • Pay money for pension/retirement plan
  • Buy items using buy now, pay later plans
  • Take loans or credit cards to make a purchase
  • Invest in cryptocurrencies
  • Pay for life/critical illness insurance
  • UAE finance to buy a car

Source: YouGov, KT Research

Purvi Munot, Co-founder and CEO of Sav, said the estimated disposable income of UAE residents’ post rentals, which accounts for a large chunk of expenses, is around $2,000 (approximately Dh7,500).

“Lifestyle purchases – luxury apparel, gadgets and entertainment – top the list. Households with kids focus on spending across quality education, occasional travel and frequent dine-outs,” she said.

Munot added that saving continues to be high on the top of the agenda with the changing macroeconomics such as rising interest rates. “Most popular avenues in the geography for spending disposable income include investments into real estate and cryptos, buying automobiles, lifestyle purchases and education.”

As a global recession looms, UAE residents have been advised to tighten their belts.

“With the cost of living rising, rents and property prices riding high, and inflation continuing to march on, it might be wise for UAE residents to start tightening their belts by cutting expenses, and living more frugally,” said Rupert Connor.

In the past 12 months, the YouGov survey found that putting money in their savings (28 per cent), paying for health insurance (27 per cent), paying for a home, pet or automotive insurance (23 per cent) and using short-term borrowings to make a purchase (22 per cent) were the top few financial activities.


More news from UAE