Three in 10 UAE residents expect their finances to improve in a year’s time

A third of respondents are actively reducing their non-essential expenses to deal with the pandemic, YouGov survey finds

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One-third of people in the UAE expect their finances to improve in the 12 months after the gradual reopening of the UAE economy in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to survey findings by YouGov.

Around 23 per cent of respondents to YouGov’s economic recovery tracker survey expect their finances to remain unchanged while a quarter think they will get worse.

The market research firm polled more than 8,000 respondents in the UAE between May 7 and July 2 to analyse the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on residents' finances. At the start of that period, a higher percentage of respondents expected finances to be worse than to improve, but optimism levels have increased as movement restrictions eased.

"With the economy gradually reopening, UAE residents are hopeful about their personal monetary situation," the survey said.

However, a majority of people in the UAE are still actively reducing their non-essential expenses as they deal with the financial implications of the virus. Around 34 per cent had relied on savings to meet their expenses during the pandemic but this number has come down to 27 per cent, the YouGov survey found.

Consumer sentiment in the Mena region seems to be on the rebound after taking a hit during the peak of the pandemic in April. In a PwC study this week, it was revealed that almost half of Middle East consumers expect to spend more money in the next few months despite 62 per cent experiencing a decrease in household income due to redundancy or reduced hours.

According to the YouGov survey, confidence over the prospects of an economic recovery have improved. More than a quarter of those polled said the UAE’s economy will be growing or booming in the next 12 months, up from 17 per cent who said so in May. However, 33 per cent still believe the economy will be in a recession or depression, down from 40 per cent who said so in May.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that economies in the Middle East and Central Asia will shrink by 4.7 per cent this year due to Covid-19 and lower oil prices.

In further signs of a recovery in consumer sentiment, the share of residents who said their current financial circumstances have deteriorated during the pandemic has reduced to 42 per cent at the end of June, from 56 per cent in May, the YouGov survey found.  Those reporting an improvement in finances has grown to 11 per cent, from 6 per cent, and those reporting no change has climbed to 41 per cent, from 33 per cent over the same timeframe.

Although concerns persist about job security, the number of people who are worried for their jobs is falling. While more than half of survey respondents admitted to feeling less secure about their jobs in May, with the reopening of businesses last month, this number has decreased to 47 per cent at the end of June, according to YouGov.

A similar trend is evident among business owners, too, with the number of respondents who experienced decreased levels of business activity falling to 48 per cent in June from 67 per cent in May. The number reporting an uptick in business activity rose to 17 per cent in June, from 7 per cent in May, the YouGov survey added.