x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Love lifts economic gloom in the hearts of the Arab world

Love can conquer even the global financial gloom, according to a Valentine's Day survey of Arab world romantics.

ABU DHABI // Love can conquer even the global financial gloom, according to a Valentine's Day survey of Arab world romantics. The third annual Valentine's Day Survey, conducted in 11 countries across the Middle East and North African region by Maktoob Research, showed Arabs were still prepared to open their wallet to show loved ones they cared. And fewer thought the day was only for the western world.

According to the survey, released last week, about 27 per cent of the 3,156 respondents said they were willing to spend up to US$50 (Dh183.60) on loved ones, down slightly from 27.7 per cent the year before. Those who planned to spend between $51 to $100 dropped slightly to 15 per cent, down from 16.1 per cent last year; while those willing to spend between $101 and $150 stayed roughly the same at six per cent, down from 6.4 per cent.

But respondents willing to spend $150 or more dropped to eight per cent from last year's 10.7 per cent. "The results were pretty similar, which was quite surprising," the general manager of Maktoob, Tamara Deprez, said. "I thought the financial crisis would have influenced it a little bit, but that wasn't the case." It provides a contrast to the outlook in the US, where Valentine's Day has long been celebrated with a bunch of roses and heart-holding teddy bears.

The National Retail Federation's 2009 Valentine's Day Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, released last month, showed US consumers planned to spend about $20 less this year, at an average of $102.50 on gifts and merchandise, from last year. The Maktoob survey showed the idea of the Day for Lovers is growing in the Middle East, with some 35 per cent saying it was meant only for the western world, down from 58 per cent last year.

But the proportion that said the occasion went against their religious beliefs was fairly static at 45 per cent, down from 46 per cent last year. "The results of the survey indicate that traditional gifts and simple expressions of love are still very much in vogue among the Arab world, and that money is no bar when it comes to matters of the heart," Ms Deprez said. "Having said that, it is significant to observe that a not inconsiderable number of respondents find Valentine's Day a western import that conflicts with their religious beliefs."

The survey was conducted from Feb 2 to Feb 8 among Arabs of different nationalities who are either married or involved in a serious relationship, between the ages of 18 and 35. aligaya@thenational.ae