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Dubai: The maximum number of loans that Dubai residents take are for buying cars and homes, says the fifth — and latest — Social Survey conducted by Community Development Authority in Dubai in collaboration with the Dubai Statistics Centre.

Revealing the results exclusively to Gulf News on Monday, the Community Development Authority (CDA) said the 2017 survey, which covered 17,764 people, found that the maximum borrowings among Emiratis were for purchasing a car (63 per cent), followed by building or buying homes (46 per cent), living expenses (22 per cent), furniture or household appliances purchases (14 per cent) and credit card payments (12 per cent).

When it came to expatriates, car loans again topped the list (51 per cent), followed by home loans (37 per cent) and loans for living expenses (25 per cent). Educational loans were an additional head, which like credit card payments, accounted for a share of 14 per cent.

According to the survey, the percentage of expatriates with borrowings doubled to 22 per cent in 2017, from 11 per cent in 2011. Emiratis with loans rose to 39 per cent in 2017 compared to 37 per cent in 2011.

CDA is keen to conduct the social survey every two years to accurately track changes in social development indicators and launch necessary programmes that meet Dubai residents’ aspirations and needs...

- Ahmad Julfar, Director-general of CDA

The default rates also increased to 35 per cent (up from 15 per cent in 2011) among Emirati borrowers and 11 per cent (up from four per cent) among expats.

Ahmad Julfar, Director General of the Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai, said, “CDA is keen to conduct the social survey every two years to accurately track changes in social development indicators and launch necessary programmes that meet Dubai residents’ aspirations and needs and maintain social cohesion and sustainable development.”

He said cultural diversity, which is one of the key features of the UAE community, entails a renewed pattern of social visions and aspirations, especially with regard to coexistence and integration among different groups of society.

The results of the survey covered four distinct themes: financial situation; disability and people of determination; UAE culture and identity; and social empowerment.

Happiness score

When asked about happiness, the average score of happiness among those residents who agreed that their income was sufficient to meet their families’ needs was 8.4, on a scale of one to 10. The average score of happiness among those residents who did not agree that their income was sufficient to meet their families’ needs was 6.5.

The results revealed that 34 per cent of Emiratis were saving money at the time of conducting the survey, compared to 54 per cent of expats.

Reasons for the savings were largely similar in the case of both Emiratis and expats, with securing the future (84 and 87 per cent respectively), travel and tourism (30 and 25 per cent), building or purchasing houses (25 and 47 per cent) and children’s education (23 and 42 per cent) topping the list.

Significantly, 24 per cent of Emiratis saved for performing religious rituals and starting new projects while 16 per cent of expatriates saved for getting married.

According to the survey, 84 per cent of Emiratis and 83 per cent of expats parked their savings in banks while 20 per cent of Emiratis and five per cent of non-Emiratis ploughed their money into shares, bonds or sukuk. The share of investments for Emiratis and expats with respect to deposits was nine and eight per cent, real estate nine and seven per cent and residential and commercial plots six and three per cent.

Disability and People of Determination

According to the survey results, the prevalence of disability in Dubai’s population was 2.2 per cent, with the break up among Emiratis and expats being 3.7 per cent and 2.1 per cent.

The prevalence was the highest among seniors at 19 per cent among Emiratis and 11.8 per cent among expats, followed by the 18- 59 age group, (2.8 and 1.9 per cent), 6-17 age group 2.4 and 1.5 per cent and children less than five years 1.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

In terms of the types of disabilities among Emiratis, the break-up was as follows: Difficulty in walking and climbing stairs (18 per cent), vision problems (17 per cent), learning difficulties (13 per cent), mental or psychological disorders (12 per cent), remembering or concentrating and self-care difficulties (11 per cent), communication difficulties (including autism) 9 per cent and hearing problems (8 per cent).

The results showed that 53 per cent of Emiratis are independent and self-reliant while 23 per cent need some help and the rest need full assistance.

Forty per cent of Emirati People of Determination stay at home accompanied by a family member while 18 per cent of them stay at home without help and seven per cent stay at home with a caregiver.

Thirteen per cent of them go work, about 13 per cent are enrolled in regular schools, six per cent go to care centres and 0.3 per cent go to nurseries.

It was also found that 1.2 per cent of Emirati People of determination stay in hospitals, and 0.2 per cent in shelters.

Dubai's 5th Social Survey results 2017-18 Image Credit: Gulf News

UAE culture and identity: Matter of pride

Based on a scale of 0-10, an average of 9.2 among Emiratis were found to have broad knowledge of UAE culture, history, customs and traditions, compared to 5.8 among expatriates.

A 58 per cent of Dubai residents from Arab countries, 54 per cent from the West, Japan, Australia and New Zealand and 50 per cent from Asia and African countries tried to know more about UAE culture, history, customs and traditions

A 78 per cent of expats believed that UAE values and culture are maintained in Dubai, while 77 per cent said the UAE culture is very evident and 53 per cent said Arabic language is well maintained.

Also, 99.4 per cent of Emiratis expressed their pride in living in Dubai, 99.2 per cent felt a sense of belonging to Dubai, 98.8 per cent felt committed to Dubai, 98.6 per cent were proud of the Arabic language and 98.4 per cent felt proud about UAE values and culture.

Social Empowerment

The results showed that 92 per cent of Emiratis believed they have the ability to take important decisions in their lives, 88 per cent have adequate life skills and 83 per cent said they are aware of local information about their neighbourhood and 83 per cent said they could get counselling or legal assistance when needed.

The survey also found 81 per cent of Emiratis able to control and improve their economic status over the years, with 75 per cent saying they have knowledge of IT information and communication technology and 70 per cent saying they have the ability to access sources of information on laws, regulations and decisions affecting Dubai society.