Wealthy Qatar residents spent an average of US$4,000 a month on luxury goods and experiences last year – twice that of their regional peers, according to results of a new survey of spending habits in the Middle East.
Falling oil prices and government belt-tightening inside of Qatar have led to hundreds of job losses here, but hasn’t stopped more affluent citizens and residents from enjoying the finer things in life, American Express Middle East said.
That said, a quarter of people surveyed within Qatar confirmed they did cut back on spending last year.
Qatar’s average spend on high-end items and services was the most out of the five Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain) surveyed for the latest edition of the company’s Spending Survey.
The report was carried out by Germany-based market researchers GfK, and Saudi Arabia was not included.
Qatar residents spent around 12 percent of their average household monthly income on luxury goods and services last year. The $4,000 figure is considerably higher than the $2,500 spent each month in 2014, Bloomberg reported.
Across the region, a total of 430 residents and citizens who had annual household incomes of $75,000 or more took part in the survey, which was conducted between November and December 2015.
All had been residents of their respective Gulf countries for at least one year.
Some 41 percent of households surveyed spent between $1,001 and $5,000 a month on luxuries, while just under a third spent more than $5,000 monthly on such items/services.
Just one percent said they spent less than $250 each month on nice-to-haves, Gulf Times reported.
Mazin Khoury, Chief Executive Officer, American Express Middle East said only around a quarter of people in Qatar reduced spending last year.
“Around 76 percent of the respondents from Qatar did not cut back spending in 2015. They spent more than planned or the same amount while just 24 percent cut back their spending,” the Peninsula reported him as saying.
However, some habits have changed. Around one quarter (26 percent) of people in Qatar said they spent less on eating out last year, while nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said they spent more on food and drink at home.
Residents in other Gulf states appeared to be more frugal, as 41 percent of those in Oman cut back spending on socializing, while more than half (55 percent) of people in Kuwait did the same last year.
Looking forward, many Qatar residents said that while they don’t plan to spend less overall, they are expecting to change up their purchases.
Around one quarter (24 percent) said they would spend more on personal wellness at the expense of dining out, while 42 percent said they would spend less on savings and pensions, Gulf Times added, quoting Khoury.
Spending on experiences, such as holidays, spa visits, eating out, hobbies and sports is still favored over buying tangible items such as jewelry, watches, clothes, cars and electronics.
Just over half (53 percent) of those surveyed said they would be spending their extra income on experiences, while 47 percent said they would like to buy goods, in line with trends across the region.
This is down from 2014, when 70 percent of those polled in Qatar in the same survey said they would opt for high-end experiences over buying “stuff.”
Rising cost of living
The survey results come as official statistics show that Qatar is an increasingly expensive place for living.
Consumer prices in February were up more than 3 percent on the same month last year, primarily driven by a 9 percent jump in the cost of recreation and cultural activities since February 2014.
Meanwhile, residential rental rates continue to rise, despite an increase in vacancies.
Do you plan to spend less this year? Thoughts?