Financial pressures biggest source of stress in UAE

Financial pressures biggest source of stress in UAE
22 September 2012

Financial pressures are the single biggest source of stress in the lives of UAE residents, according to research for UAE Saves Week, the region’s first national financial savings programme launched by cashy.

Some 36% of those questioned by YouGov for cashy, which will run UAE Saves Week from 23 to 29 September, said money worries and debt were their biggest source of stress, followed by work (20%) and relationship problems (12%) (see chart 1).

Stress levels are clearly having an impact on our day-to-day lives, with two-thirds (68%) saying stress has a negative impact on their performance at work and/or relationships with others.

When asked which facets of their lives were most impacted by stress ‘mental wellbeing’ emerged as the main victim, with 68% says this was negatively affected to a moderate or large extent. This was followed by physical health (61%), family life (52%), work performance (49%) and relationships with friends (45%) (see chart 2).

The impact of stress is not only felt at a personal level, but also has an economic impact on society, with 37% of residents surveyed saying they have had to take time off work due to psychological stress or a stress-related illness. Two-thirds (64%) of residents claimed to have missed at least three days from work over the last 12 months due to psychological stress or a stress-related illness.

The poll also shows that most residents (55%) are unable to save more than 10% of their monthly salary. In fact, three in ten residents surveyed say they are not able to save anything (see chart 3).

Westerners appear to be the best at saving, with more than half (53%) saving more than 20% of their monthly salary. Emiratis and expat Arabs are saving significantly less.

In light of this inability to save, it is not surprising to find that more than half of UAE residents would not survive for more than two months on their current savings. Shockingly, one-quarter of respondents would not be able to last even one month if they lost their job (see chart 4).

This is truer of younger respondents with 33% of those aged 18-29 claiming they would not last even one month, compared with 27% of those 30-39 and 16% of those aged 40-plus.

Well over one-third (38%) of residents have credit card debt. Two-thirds of those with credit card debt owe the equivalent of their monthly salary or more. Worryingly, one-third of those with credit card debt owe at least three times their monthly salary.

Nima Abu-Wardeh, founder and chief executive of cashy, the Arab world’s first social media platform dedicated to how money affects our lives, says: “As this research clearly shows, having a good relationship with money is crucial to our health, wealth and overall wellbeing.

Less financial stress means we’re all happier people – we become better partners, friends and colleagues for it – and that’s why we’ve created UAE Saves Week.

The big message here is that we’ve broken down saving money into practical, manageable, bite-sized daily goals that we can all achieve, especially with a little help and support from our friends. We’d like to show you that these small daily changes and savings can really transform your life.

So please join us for UAE Saves Week! Promise you’ll tackle each day’s goal, and we’ll collectively take a big step towards the UAE becoming a more money savvy nation.”

UAE Saves Week will feature a comprehensive programme of events with each day taking a different theme. One day will focus on helping people to boost their bank balance by kicking bad habits, while another will aim to boost financial literacy among our youth and create a generation of cash savvy kids.

Abu-Wardeh says: “Financial behaviours are able to be re-learned and UAE Saves Week is about giving people indispensable tools for learning the skills that are essential to our financial health. Better money management ultimately leads to a better quality of life. Go on – become a UAE Saves Week champion!

To find out more about our campaign goals, click here.


Notes to editors

The survey was conducted using the YouGov online panel and the results are based on the responses of 733 respondents in the UAE (Dubai: 260, Abu Dhabi: 250, Sharjah: 133, other Emirates: 79).

Chart 1: What’s your biggest source of stress?


Chart 2: Which facets of you life are most impacted by stress?

Chart 3: How much of your monthly salary are you able to save?

Chart 4: How long would you survive on your current savings if you lost your job?


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