Mohammed Iqbal, a restaurant driver from Pakistan, talks about his financial concerns from living in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National
Mohammed Iqbal, a restaurant driver from Pakistan, talks about his financial concerns from living in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Experts say people must resist urge to splurge

In this series:

75 per cent fail to save enough for retirement

Survey finds 94 per cent of UAE residents have financial worries

Survey finds many UAE residents failing to save for retirement

Rent is UAE residents' biggest expense, survey finds

Some UAE residents own eight credit cards, survey finds

UAE residents long for financial security

Start saving from early age


ABU DHABI // Financial experts say the urge to splurge means many struggle when faced with unexpected expenses.

The National's survey found only four out of 10 respondents, or 41 per cent, believe they can afford to cover an emergency.

“Most would struggle should they be faced with an unexpected expense as there remains a spend and not save culture in this part of the world,” says adviser Nigel Sillitoe.

“While financial services companies are trying their best to change habits and encourage people to save, it remains an uphill struggle of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ remains an


Faced with a sudden expense, Pakistani driver Mohammed Iqbal, 52, who moved to Abu Dhabi in 1979, admits he would not be able to cope.

“No, not at all, because my salary is so low,” Mr Iqbal says.

If he were presented with a sudden bill it would cause him a lot of worry, he says.

It is vital to have some emergency cash, advises financial expert Chris Ferguson of Credence Independent Advisors.

“Expatriates are not at home and may need cash quickly in the event of an emergency,” he says.

“We only need to look at the recent fire in Dubai Marina where many people will have not have even been insured.

“In the event of a job loss, issues with bank accounts or the need to fly home, it is vital to have cash available to carry out these vital transactions.”

About 20 per cent should be the maximum an employed person should spend on luxury items, says financial adviser Tim Denton.

Of those polled in the survey, 581 people live in Dubai, 230 in Abu Dhabi, 54 in Al Ain, 37 in Ajman, 10 in Fujairah, 13 in Ras Al Khaimah, 177 in Sharjah, and two in Umm Al Quwain.


About this series:

A study into the saving habits of Emiratis and expatriates found a quarter of all employed residents do not save any of their monthly wage. And 69 per cent have not started planning for retirement. The survey found that only 6 per cent of respondents do not have any financial worries. The majority of people’s wages are spent on rent, followed by groceries and household items leaving some residents dependent on multiple credit cards and longing for financial security. Financial experts advise residents to resist overspending to avoid a struggle when faced with unexpected expenses.

Coverage from March 9th:

Majority of expats in UAE sending money abroad, survey finds

High cost of living forces half of expats to consider leaving UAE

Coverage from March 10th:

UAE workforce is largely satisfied in their jobs

Emergency cash reserves needed in case of redundancy, says financial advisor

Most UAE employees unhappy with frequency of pay rises, survey shows

Many UAE workers fearful over losing their jobs


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