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UAE expat workers see their living standards rise – According to Ding

UAE ex-pats have said they have seen a rise in living standards while working in the UAE the highest in the region

Ex-pat workers increasingly living life online – 78% say they use their phone too much WhatsApp overtakes Facebook in UAE as the most popular mobile application While online payment is growing the majority still operate in cash only (57%)

Ding, the largest international mobile top-up platform, unveiled today the findings of a new piece of research looking at ex-pat workers across the UAE, also taking in Qatar, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Oman. The research, which allows for an interesting geographical comparison between the markets surveyed, looks at remittance habits, mobile payment preferences and mobile device usage of these international workers. 

UAE – the land of plenty

When it comes to improved living standards, ex-pats in the UAE are more upbeat than their fellow workers in other Gulf Nations with 61% earning more than USD 1,361 per month. Almost three quarters of respondents reported they were employed fulltime, and in addition to using their earnings to fund basic bills and utilities, their interest in leisure activities is also on the rise. This community wants to transact online with 58% using their devices to make purchases twice per month. Groceries were most likely to be purchased followed by event tickets, at 38% and 35% respectively. When making payments Apple Pay is the most used e-pay solution. 

Read: African Fintech firm enters UAE market to empower African expat community with financial solutions

Remittances & loved ones still top priority for the ex-pat population   

The UAE is the third largest remittance sender in the world with USD 33 billion sent in 2018 alone. According to the research, UAE’s international ex-pat workers still prioritize the needs of their family back home, with 90% ensuring they budget to send top-ups and remittances on a monthly basis, this is despite a reported slowing in international remittances by the UAE Central Bank this week. Ex-pats have reasserted that sending money home to support family is their top priority after paying their rent. The survey also found that three quarters pay bills and almost two thirds directly transfer funds on a monthly basis. Interestingly, the workers report that they are responsible for paying 75% of the communications needs of family back home – be that phone and data.

“Ding was originally conceptualised in Dubai and since its entry into the Middle Eastern market ten years ago we have grown to partner with the top companies in the region,” said Mark Roden, Founder and Chief Executive of Ding. “As experts in the prepaid market we strive to stay on top of market trends and provide our customers in the UAE and around the world with the services they need and can count on.”

Read: UAE businesses need to think beyond the workplace to get the most from expats

Contract-free – the shared economy  

As Ding continues to expand, the research confirms that pay as you go is still the preferred method and underpins the trend that this community of ex-pats want to enjoy the flexibility of contract-free services and fully exploit the benefits of the shared economy. 

Phone-life balance

While staying connected with family and friends is a top priority, 78% of those surveyed feel they use their phones too much with 81% reporting they browse the internet daily for entertainment purposes. When asked what application the ex-pats used most on a daily basis, in the UAE 73% use WhatsApp the most frequently followed by Facebook (65%) and Instagram (52%).  

Ding considers the UAE as a strategic business hub in the Middle East and is proud to support the Smart Dubai and Smart Economy initiatives. The UAE is a global hub for ex-pat flows and Ding is committed to growing its presence Dubai office to reflect the increasing importance of the region. 

For the past ten years Ding has provided UAE ex-pat workers with a virtual digital highway connecting them with their loved ones back home and since its inception. In Oman, Qatar, Saudi and the UAE Ding has facilitated more than 140 million transactions for the region’s international workers – 40million of which were for international workers in the UAE.