Posted on September 16, 2014

Nearly two-thirds (59%) of luxury spenders in the MENA region are now choosing to spend more of their money on enriching experiences rather than goods, according to the new American Express Middle East Spending Survey*. This is markedly different from the results of a similar survey carried out by American Express Middle East in 2012, which showed respondents were most likely to spend their disposable income on tangible items such as high-end fashion, electronics and the latest cars.

The American Express Middle East Spending Survey was conducted by YouGov across the MENA region. Looking specifically at Qatar, 70% of local respondents say they prioritise spending on luxury experiences over luxury goods, ranking it third out of the eight countries in the preference for experiences. The majority of Qataris regard spending on luxury experiences such as holidays, hobbies and fine dining as important for personal wellbeing and enrichment.

Across the region, 47% of consumers rank social events, such as attending sporting activities, as their number one choice for spending their hard-earned income while holiday experiences come close behind with 43%. However, Qataris differ from their Arab counterparts with fine dining ranked as their number one choice with 46% rating this as their preferred luxury experience, followed by holidays and personal wellness activities such as spa days.

Commenting on the results, Mazin Khoury, CEO of American Express Middle East, said: “Over recent years, we’ve seen a major change in the way consumers make luxury purchases and investments. Increasingly they are buying experiences, and the memories that go with them, in preference to tangible items such as clothes and accessories. For Qataris, the special experience of fine dining or the personal fulfilment gained from a holiday creates the enriching moments which are increasingly regarded as the most valuable when it comes to luxury spending.”

In terms of purchasing luxury products, 18% of Qataris rated fashion as their top choice for spending on luxury goods, however cars and jewellery including prestigious time pieces, are the preferred categories for Qataris. In both they are the second highest spenders across the region, behind Saudi Arabia for cars and Kuwait for jewellery. Luxury spending by Qataris is set to remain robust during 2015, with 19% planning to spend more on luxury goods and services next year. However, with 18% planning to spend less on luxury in 2015 than this year, this is higher than any other GCC country, with respondents putting the fall in spending down to changing personal circumstances.

“Our survey shows that overall; Qataris are set to continue spending on luxury next year. We are committed to developing innovative products and services that are especially designed to meet the needs of Card members, merchants and business partners to meet the appetite for both luxury goods and, increasingly, luxury experiences” added Khoury.