Majority of the residents in MENA region  have either maintained or improved upon their financial status in the past 12 months, with more positive sentiments for the year to come, according to a survey.
As far as 2012 is concerned, the outlook is positive across the MENA region  with the respondents consistently believing that their personal financial situation will take a turn for the better, said the latest consumer confidence index conducted by leading job site Bayt.com and research organisation YouGov. The majority also stated that the same would be true for their country’s economy, business conditions and employment availability. This positivity however doesn’t extend to the cost of living or real estate; 39 per cent and 36 per cent of respondents, respectively, believe that these will be negatively impacted in the future. While roughly a third of regional respondents to Bayt.com’s CCI experienced a decrease in their finances compared to 2011, another third (34 per cent) stated that they had not had any change at all. More than a quarter (27 per cent) claim to have an improved financial situation, the survey revealed.
According to the survey, country economies were considered by most to be either the same or worse than last year, and the majority of respondents believe that this is a neutral or bad time to purchase durable consumer goods and that business conditions are unfavourable. Only 12 per cent claim that there are jobs readily available. The MENA- wide sentiment (as per 67 per cent respondents) is that remuneration and compensation are not keeping pace with the cost of living, with a majority (40 per cent) stating dissatisfaction with their current job and career prospects along with chances for growth (39 per cent). Despite this, job security was not much of an issue for professionals in the MENA as a collective 61 per cent claimed their job security to be ‘neutral’ to ‘high’, the survey pointed out. The overall sentiment is that there will be little growth in terms of number of employees in companies in the coming three months, with 37 per cent stating that they feel ‘neutrally’ about staffing requirements being met, it added. The survey pointed out that only 27 per cent of respondents considered buying a new vehicle in the next year. 'Those who will are more likely to buy new. The same is true of the 21 per cent who are looking to buy property. In terms of intention to make ‘smaller’ purchases, desktops and laptops continue to be top in popularity, followed by furniture and digital cameras,' it added. Commenting on the findings, Suhail Masri, the VP of sales, Bayt.com said, 'Feelings towards economy, commerce and employment are relatively consistent across the region, with regional sentiment for the current situation remains relatively low.' 'However, there is always hope for a more positive tomorrow. That employees feel secure in their current job is a welcome find,' he noted. “At Bayt.com, we gather information that is relevant to both job seekers and employers, combining our knowledge of the industry and region to deliver tools pertinent to the millions of people who use our job site for recruitment purposes,” Masri said. Sundip Chahal, the CEO of YouGov said, 'With the majority of people stating that their financial situation has either remained the same or improved over the last year, it may be that the positive outlook for the future may be realistic.' 'While the majority say that now is a bad time for business, there are some countries that are clearly experiencing a more positive commercial atmosphere – which, undoubtedly, is a good sign for things to come,' he added. On the UAE scenario, the survey said majority stated that their financial situation was the same now as it was 12 months ago, though they also believe that the country’s economy has declined. 'On a positive note, however, people in the UAE do believe that this is a good time to buy consumer durable goods, and business conditions are considered to be neutral, as opposed to the perceived bad atmosphere elsewhere in the region,' the survey stated.
The outlook for employment is also slightly better in the UAE than the rest of MENA region with 43 per cent stating that there are very few jobs available as opposed to regional 50 per cent who claim the same is true for their country, it added. UAE respondents said there were fewer employees working in their companies now than last year. About 69 per cent of them believe that their salary has not kept pace with the cost of living, and 52 per cent say that their compensation is inadequate. This does not seem to have had too negative an effect on job satisfaction, though. More than half (54 per cent) opted for ‘neutral’ or ‘high’ to describe their satisfaction with their job, career and growth prospects with their current employer. Despite this, an equally-split 72 per cent stated that they have ‘neutral’ to ‘low’ satisfaction with their perceived job security. In the next three months, most UAE respondents believe that there will be few additional employees added to their company (38 per cent claim to have a ‘neutral’ sentiment in this regard). Similarly, 41 per cent are neutral as to whether or not their company will keep up with staffing requirements. On the future outlook, UAE respondents are positive about the year ahead, with the majority believing that both their financial situation (49 per cent) and the country’s economy (46 per cent) will have improved. Business conditions and the number of jobs available are also expected to be better, according to 48 per cent and 35 per cent of respondents, respectively. On the other hand, 33 per cent of residents in the UAE believe that the cost of living will have negative impact in the year to come, while 31 per cent believe that cost of real estate for rental or purchase will not be affected. The data for the survey was collected online from April 18 to May 7 with 10,138 respondents aged over 18 years, covering GCC Arab, North African, Levant, Western expatriate and Asian nationalities.