The report, out in June 2009, states that the cosmetics and toiletries sector posted an 8 per cent growth, the highest in the last five years. Saudi Arabia recorded the biggest value of sales in 2008, at $2.2 billion. Image Credit: Supplied

Consumers in the region seem to have a bigger appetite for beauty products, compared with other markets. According to figures released by Euromonitor International, the beauty market in the Middle East, worth $7.2 billion in 2008, showed signs of resistance to the global credit crunch, while sales in Western countries slowed down.

The report, out in June 2009, states that the cosmetics and toiletries sector posted an 8 per cent growth, the highest in the last five years. Saudi Arabia recorded the biggest value of sales in 2008, at $2.2 billion.

"One of the main reasons behind the Middle East's resistance to the credit crunch is that consumers there do not have the kind of high levels of personal debt seen among their Western counterparts, and this means that the Middle Eastern love of lavish lifestyles and displaying wealth will not be replaced by the kind of cautious, frugal attitudes seen in many other countries," the report says.

Beauty experts in the UAE confirm the trend, saying that most consumers are not cutting down on creams, make-ups, and other beauty enhancers despite the economic downturn.

"The beauty market is very big here. In 2009, it was probably the only market that managed to stay stabilized because people always want to look good. We didn't even see a very big dip (globally) despite the recession."

"It was the least affected segment in retail. While fashion saw a decrease of 20 per cent in sales, [the decline in beauty (product sales] might have been around 5 per cent, on average," Katia Andrejev, head of marketing at Beauty Solutions tells Gulf News.

Anne Piduhan, Max Factor brand manager, attributes the remarkable performance of the beauty sector to the attitudes of local consumers.

"They're very intense consumers. In fact, it's the beauty market that's growing way better than the other segments in the retail sector. Sales in fashion, for instance, slowed down, but beauty spending has been very consistent."

"We're actually surprised, but I guess women in the UAE don't just care about the money. They just want to look good," Piduhan tells Gulf News.

UAE consumers say taking care of their looks is something they can't live without. Hence, whether there's recession or not, they will continue to spend on beauty products and services. "I haven't cut on my beauty expenses. Looking good both at work and in public is very important for me. As a workplace coach at an airline company, I check the grooming of our staff on a daily basis, so I can't afford to cut down on my monthly routine. Just last week, I spent Dh500 on nails, highlights, facial and waxing," Jazmin Poblador tells Gulf News.

  • $7.2b size of Middle East beauty market in 2008
  • 8% growth in cosmetics and toiletries sector
  • $2.2b cosmetics sales in Saudi Arabia in 2008