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Bahrainis 'optimistic about economy'

Manama, June 16, 2008

Bahrain residents are among the most optimistic in the region towards the economy and local job market against a backdrop of a considerable drop in consumer confidence across the GCC region, according to regional survey.

The majority of Bahrainis are reeling under inflation, with 62 per cent saying their salaries have not kept up. But nearly half - at 44 per cent - believe the economy will be better next year, said the survey conducted by Bayt.com in conjunction with research specialists YouGovSiraj.

About 46 per cent of Bahrainis believe there will be better job opportunities a year from now, according to the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI).

A total of 13,026 respondents across Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Pakistan were polled for the survey.

Men and women aged 20 to 62, of all nationalities, were included in the survey, conducted from April 7 to May 18, say the organisations.

Overall confidence has dipped by nine index points in the UAE, seven in Qatar and three in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, as compared to levels measured in January, says the report, released yesterday.

Of the surveyed North African countries, Egypt showed an eight-point dip in confidence, while Algeria improved by two points.

The CCI is a measure of consumer expectations and satisfaction of various elements of the economy including inflation, job opportunities and cost of living, say the organisations.

One aspect of determining the CCI is to assess whether respondents' current financial position is perceived to be better - or worse - than the previous year. Thirty-four per cent of all respondents felt that they were in a better position than last year, says the report.

The most optimistic were in Oman and Bahrain, where 48 per cent and 44 per cent respectively believed the economy would be better next year.

As part of the index, the respondents were asked to rate how they found the current economic climate in terms of good, neutral or bad, for buying consumer goods.

The conclusive results were largely negative - only 19 per cent cited it as a good time to buy and 38 per cent considered it bad.

In Bahrain, 46 per cent felt it was a largely neutral time to buy goods, compared to the 18 per cent who felt it was a good time and 29 per cent who felt it was a bad time.

"Consumer opinion is one of the most powerful tools in reflecting prevailing attitudes and sentiments about the current business and economic conditions in a particular country," said Bayt.com chief executive officer Rabea Ataya.

"By monitoring this data, all types of industry and professional personnel can learn and benefit from the sound insights, by using them to forecast and understand key trends and improve and develop business activities correspondingly in the future."

The research also indicates respondents' level of satisfaction over their pay. Only 19 per cent said their salaries had increased to keep pace with the cost of living.

An overall 63 per cent said salaries had not kept up, a view reflected by 62 per cent in Bahrain, 66 per cent in Saudi and 59 per cent in Qatar.

The most unsatisfied in this respect were respondents in the Levant countries of Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

The CCI also seeks to measure the confidence of employees in their current work and to measure their individual attitudes and satisfaction towards the local job market in general.

In Bahrain, 46 per cent of respondents cited it as a good time to do business, while only 26 per cent cited it as a good time in terms of availability of jobs in Bahrain.

Employee confidence recorded minor slumps in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, while Kuwait and Algeria both registered an improvement, with their indices moving up five points each.

Qatar and Oman recorded the most positiv




Tags: economy | Bahrainis | optimistic | Bayt.com survey |

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