As a young Emirati, I am proud to call the UAE my home. My attitude towards money is hugely influenced by my family, my surroundings, the global economic climate and my personal values. I like to think I am sensible about the way I manage my finances and I try to look beyond the immediate future when making decisions about my money. I was born in the UK to an English mother and an Emirati father, and my family moved back to the UAE in 1997. My education has been based on the British curriculum and I completed my secondary education at Dubai College in 2007. Unlike the UK, it is very difficult to find part-time employment in the UAE if you are under the age of 18, and as a result I have had to rely on my parents to help me out with pocket money.
Coming from Dubai, money is important to me, which is why I have chosen to major in banking and finance as part of my business degree at the American University in Dubai. Continuing into tertiary education in the UAE was convenient, since I can remain in my home country and save money by living at home. But most important, I can continue playing golf. My tuition fees and study materials are paid for by my parents and cost about Dh54,000 a year, but my other expenses are funded by profits I made from dabbling in the UAE stock market.
I invested in my first stock portfolio a year ago when I was 18. My father gave me the capital to buy stocks, and so far my investment has been profitable. I cashed in all my profits a few months ago and have stopped investing for the moment due to the instability of the market. It is a waiting game, and in this volatile climate I need to remain cautious. My biggest expense has always been golf. I have been playing since the age of 8, and over the years my parents have spent a serious amount of money on golf clubs, gloves, shoes and club fees - probably more than Dh100,000. I made the cut for the UAE National Team at 14 and have been a member of the team ever since. I became the National Champion during 2005-2007, but was unable to retain my title this year after a close defeat - I lost in the playoff.
I also won two Arab Junior Championships, in 2006 and 2008, and was privileged to receive a special invitation to play in the Dubai Desert Classic in January of this year. Golf professionals make huge amounts of money, but as an amateur there is no financial reward for winning. For example, winning the Dubai Desert Classic can earn you up to US$350,000, and every tournament winner in America can take home more than US$1 million. The rewards are high, and should I ever make it as a professional, I stand to make a lot of money, which motivates me to continue developing my skills as a player.
I wouldn't say I splurge on anything, but I manage to spend on clothing, eating out and socialising with my friends. I always try to find ways to counteract my spending, either through investing or by selling my old golf equipment on the internet or in golf shops. I can make anywhere from Dh200 to Dh2000 for a golf club, depending on the make. I have a savings account only, and make all my transactions through ATM machines, and in order to control my spending I won't allow myself to be tempted by credit cards.
Everything in Dubai is so excessive and I'm not sure all the changes are necessarily positive. The population is growing too fast, and it seems like the infrastructure can't cope. The myth that all Emirati families are rich is simply untrue; rising inflation is plunging many local families into financial despair, and this is something that needs to be rectified. I strongly believe in Emiratisation and I don't think that enough is being done to entice Emiratis into the workforce.
The UAE will need to become self-sufficient, as I think we cannot rely on the western workforce to remain here indefinitely. The focus needs to be on training and education. In 10 years time I hope to either have a good job in a good company in Dubai, either at a bank or other type of financial institution, or start my own financial services business. I would ensure that I employ an Emirati workforce to support the Emiratisation process.
With my degree, and some worthwhile work experience under my belt, the possibilities for the future are endless. I look forward to contributing to my personal success and to that of the country as a whole. - As told to Inga Stevens