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Half of Middle East consumers see rosier finances in 2011

Nearly 50 percent of consumers in the Middle East expect their personal finances to be rosier in 2011, a survey has found.
Just eight percent of 10,468 respondents expected their finances to slip further in the new year, the poll by Bayt.com and YouGovSiraj found, compared to 49 percent expecting an upturn.
Those in Oman were the most optimistic, with 58 percent expecting fatter wallets compared to 2010.
In the UAE, half say their personal finances are set to improve over the next twelve months, compared to nine percent that predicted a decline. 
In Saudi Arabia and Qatar, 31 percent said they were better-off financially, compared to 28 percent in Kuwait and 21 percent in Bahrain.
However, more than a third of those polled in the UAE – 35 percent- said their cash situation had remained static over the last year, a view echoed by 34 percent of Middle East respondents.
Salaries remained a black spot across the Middle East, with many respondents unhappy with their pay packets. A majority – 63 percent – reported that their wages had failed to keep the pace with the cost of living.
Just 19 percent of those polled thought their salaries were in line with the cost of living, with just five percent saying their wages had increased above living costs.  
Uncertainty remains about the region’s job market. Only 26 percent said they thought the Middle East would have more jobs available in 12 months time. 
In the UAE, more than 20 percent though the job market would decline in 2011, compared to 26 percent who expected employment opportunities to pick up.
The poll, carried out between November and December last year, aims to measure consumer confidence, using a series of benchmarks such as inflation, job opportunities and the cost of living.
Across the GCC, consumer confidence showed a jump in the fourth quarter of 2010, the report found. In the UAE consumer confidence rose 2.2 in December compared to September while Bahrain and Qatar saw the biggest jumps with increases of 10.4 and 9.4 points respectively.
Lebanon recorded the largest drop in consumer confidence, declining 23.1 points overall, and 24.7 index points in the survey’s Consumer Expectations Index.
“The region seems to be stabilising as we are seeing that countries seem to have the same figures each quarter with the exception of Lebanon who has suffered political instability explaining the country’s highs and lows in terms of consumer confidence,” Amer Zureikat, vice president of sales for Bayt.com, said in a statement.
“This could mean that the worse of the crisis is indeed over for most of the Middle East.”
Respondents elsewhere remained largely optimistic about the region’s economy in 2011. Overall, 35 percent said they thought their country would be better off this year, 20 percent said it would remain the same and 26 percent believed it would be worse.
Data for the survey was collected online between 15 November and 16 December 2010 from respondents in the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan.

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