Stressed businessman Image Credit: Rex Features

Dubai: People get stressed out for a lot of reasons. For some, the daily stressors could come from heavy morning traffic on the way to work and for others, it could be the high excessive workloads with unrealistic deadlines. But for six in ten people in the UAE, the main contributor to stress has something to do with money.

A new survey conducted by YouGov and Bayt.com has recently asked UAE residents about the major causes of stress in their lives. About 66 per cent said the increase in the cost of living contributed the most to stress levels. A significant number (51 per cent) cited “work-related issues” as the top stressor, while 38 per cent blamed the inability to maintain a good work-life balance as a major contributing factor.

The overall results of the study, however, showed that despite the financial stress they’re going through, the majority of residents (58 per cent)  in the country are still satisfied with their standard of living, at least to some degree.

The latest official statistics have indicated that consumers in Dubai are indeed increasingly spending more out of their pockets to pay for living essentials. According to Dubai Statistics Centre, the annual inflation increased by 2.99 per cent in November compared to the same period in 2015, with households seeing increases in spending on education, clothing and utility bills.

The rise in tuition fees was a major contributing factor to the increase in Dubai’s education price index, which registered a 7.17 per cent jump over a year earlier, while the cost of clothes and footwear registered a 5.65 per cent increase and residency, water, electricity, gas and fuel-related expenditures rose by 4.17 per cent.

However, Alp Eke, senior economist at the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, pointed out that while there was a surge in inflation recently due to the rise in the cost of housing and utilities, UAE inflation has been generally sluggish. 

"Inflation has been declining and reached 0.29 per cent year-on-year in September 2016. There was a surge in inflation during October 2016, mainly driven by a rise in cost of housing and utilities. Year-to-date average for October was at 1.89 per cent."

"In my opinion, cost of living in UAE is expected to remain low at levels around 2 per cent during 2017," Eke told Gulf News.

Stress is just one element that can affect the overall state of happiness and well-being of residents. Bayt.com also asked residents to identify the most important factors that impact their general happiness levels in their country of residence.

Among the respondents in UAE, safety and security topped the list (58 per cent), followed by employment opportunities (51 per cent), stable financial life (44 per cent), clean environment (41 per cent) and healthy personal relationships (36 per cent).

When asked what they were satisfied the most, nearly nine in ten (86 per cent) cited their relationship with their family. Others also acknowledged their current physical health (84 per cent), mental wellbeing (82 per cent), freedom to socialise and make friends (74 per cent) and support received from family (71 per cent).

A significant number (91 per cent) said they are highly satisfied with general safety and security, availability of utilities (89 per cent), availability of entertainment avenues (88 per cent), clean environment (83 per cent) and availability of public transport facilities in the country.

Within their professional life, factors that UAE residents are more satisfied with include working hours (cited by 59 per cent of the respondents), support from colleagues and co-workers (58 per cent), work-life balance (49 per cent), freedom to take decisions at work (48 per cent) and support from managers (46 per cent).

“Much of the satisfaction that is felt in the Middle East today is connected to many improvements relating to professional opportunities, standards of living and overall development,” said Arleen Gonsalves, assistant research manager at YouGov.

The study was conducted in December 2016 among 3,747 respondents in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.