Approximately 90% of UAE residents are optimistic about the future and believe their lives will significantly improve in the next two years. This one of the many findings from our latest research study, “The Future of the UAE”, which explores the changing consumer behaviors and vision about their future. The survey delves into Emiratis and expatriates’ views on happiness, lifestyles, technology, the environment, values, national identity, financial priorities, health, work-life balance, entrepreneurship and purchasing decision influencers. The key insights were revealed to an audience of 100 marketing professionals, including our clients and business partners, at the Waldorf Astoria Dubai earlier this week.
Nadim Samara, OMD’s managing director for UAE and Lower Gulf, opened the conference by highlighting the importance of such research in a dynamic and ever-changing landscape such as the UAE’s. Fadi Maktabi, OMD’s head of strategy, revealed some of the top findings, including the notion of “the UAE dream”, similar to the American dream of the 1800s, and how the economic downturn of the past few years has done little to dent the ambitions and aspirations of UAE residents. While some do struggle financially, particularly in terms of debt, more than two thirds of the 2,000 respondents still anticipate they will spend either as much as more or more than today in the coming years. Technological devices and luxury goods will be in high demand, as 55% of Emiratis and Westerners have put them high on their shopping lists.
Farah Moumneh, OMD’s associate director – planning, focused on the value dynamics of UAE residents – such as family values and their struggles with work-life balance in pursuit of the UAE dream. She also discussed how brands can leverage these findings to better connect with their consumers in the future. The event also included a panel of Emirati and expatriate commentators, including Trevor McFarlane, founder of Emerging Markets Intelligence and Research; Khalid Al Ameri, social columnist for The Gulf Today, motivational speaker and youth coach; James Piecowye, Dubai Eye’s chief conversationalist on Nightline; Mohamed Al Awadi, co-founder of WePress, award-winning Emirati filmmaker and entrepreneur. The debate was moderated by TV presenter, Nouredlin Al Yusuf. The candid conversation developed some of the topics emerging from the findings, including national identity, happiness, work-life balance and working mothers.
“It was a very nice surprise to hear that people are here for the long-haul,” said Al Ameri, during the panel discussion. “The UAE is at the crossroads between the East and West, with the best minds meeting here. If you are a person who knows how to add value, then the UAE has a lot of opportunities for you. However, I do think there is still room for improvement to ensure that the talented people who come here want to stay on rather than move on.”