UAE to survey 19,000 families on cost of living in year-long study

Poll will examine how much households are spending on essential items and compare their income with expenditure

A new UAE study will analyse the spending habits of households. Chris Whiteoak/ The National
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The UAE will examine the spending habits of thousands of households as part of a year-long study putting cost of living challenges under the microscope.

About 19,000 families will take part in the Household and Income and Expenditure Survey 2024, which was announced on Monday.

The poll, launched by the Ministry of Community Development in partnership with the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC) and national statistics centres across the UAE, aims to help shape strategies to bolster living standards.

It will take into consideration circumstances which influence the financial outlook of families, including education, job roles, and other social, demographic and economic factors.

The survey is being carried out in line with the National Strategy for Quality of Life 2031, which aims to enhance the UAE’s global position in quality of life.

Officials said 11,000 households in Abu Dhabi – across 260 areas in the emirate – will take part in the poll from January.

The fieldwork will be completed by the end of December 2024. The results will be published by June 2025.

Respondents include families and individuals residing in Abu Dhabi, including citizens and residents.

“The sixth of its kind in the UAE capital, this is deemed the largest statistical survey in terms of cost, effort and time in the emirate after the population survey,” Abu Bakr Abdullah Al Amoudi, technical adviser for the Statistics Centre, Abu Dhabi said on Monday.

The first survey was first conducted in 1981.

Abu Dhabi family database

He said the survey will help in developing “an accurate, advanced, and modern family database” that supports decision-making related to providing the highest levels of living standards for families.

Hanan Ali Al Marzouqi, director of the field surveys department at Abu Dhabi Statistics Centre, said the data sample will consist of 70 per cent Emirati families and 30 per cent expatriates.

A team of 252 trained field researchers will conduct the survey.

Each of the surveyed families will be given two forms – one about the family characteristics and income levels – and the other one on family expenditure covering consumption patterns.

The head of each participating household receives forms to record durable and non-durable goods throughout the month.

The survey will take into account how much each family is spending on essential items.

“We will see the size of the households for both Emiratis and non-Emiratis and also the type of income, for example, low, medium, medium-high and high,” said Ms Al Marzouqi.

She said the survey results will be used to help better understand the financial difficulties facing families and help tackle poverty.

Families are selected randomly using approved statistical methodologies to ensure accurate and proportional representation.

The Statistics Centre said it ensures data protection and privacy for families taking part.

Global cost of living surge

High inflation, wage stagnation, and rises in the cost of food and energy, have all contributed to a sharp rise in the cost of living around the world.

Consumer prices in the US rose to a four-decade high in June last year, while a cost of living crisis has deepened in the UK.

In Dubai, housing, utilities and fuel – which account for the biggest part of the Consumer Price Index at more than 40 per cent – rose 5.94 per cent yearly in June, according to the Dubai Statistics Centre in July.

In the same month, average apartment rents reached the highest levels since February 2017, increasing about 22 per cent annually during July. Villa rents rose by 22.6 per cent as demand for property continued to rise.

A move by authorities in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah to allow some schools in the UAE to increase tuition for this academic year – which had been frozen for three years due to the pandemic – has also affected several households.

Updated: December 25, 2023, 3:48 PM