x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Valentine's Day stirs local hearts the most

UAE consumers plan to spend more than $200 on their loved ones this Valentine's Day, more than last year and more than any other country in the region, a new survey shows.

Consumers from the Emirates are set to spend more on their sweethearts today than their counterparts elsewhere in the region.

Valentine's Day romantics in the country plan to spend an average of about US$200 (Dh734.58) on the so-called day of love, more than last year and more than any other country in the region, according to a study by Yahoo Maktoob Research.

GCC lovebirds are expected to open their wallets the widest in the region, spending on flowers, perfume and even cosmetic surgery. Across the Gulf, Levant and north Africa as a whole, some 13 per cent of respondents expected to spend between $76 and $100 on their significant others.

But the Gulf had the highest proportion of big spenders - with 46 per cent of those surveyed expecting to shell out from $101 to more than $500. In the Levant and north Africa, just 28 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, planned to spend the same.

"Overall, spending seems to be much less this year compared to 2010, although people in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Morocco and Jordan are planning to spend more this Valentine's Day," said Tamara Deprez, the head of Yahoo Maktoob Research.

"In terms of what people want to spend money on, we saw spend on gifts like flowers and cards decrease, whereas spend on special activities like going out for dinner significantly increased this year."

UAE consumers planned to spend $202 on average, while Qatar residents expected to spend $176, the second-highest average amount. Egypt planned to spend the least, at $103.

The most popular token of love across the region were flowers, with 34 per cent of respondents planning to buy some for their sweethearts.

The second choice was perfume or cologne, at 27 per cent. Tied for the third most popular choice, at 19 per cent, were Valentine's Day greeting cards and sending an SMS message. Just 16 per cent of those surveyed planned to call their loved ones.

Some even planned to upgrade their paramours, with 1 per cent intending to buy cosmetic surgery as a token of their affection. Others opted to express their love in creative ways, with 5 per cent intending to recite or write a poem or song, and 2 per cent making a scrapbook of memories.

Just 3 per cent of those surveyed said they did not plan to buy a gift at all.

About 83 per cent planned to celebrate with a special activity, while half planned to go out for dinner, and 35 per cent hoped to go for a romantic drive. The third most popular option was watching a movie, at 24 per cent.

Although the bulk of those surveyed across the region said Valentine's Day was too commercial, 7 per cent said they planned to ask their significant others to marry them on the occasion.

The online survey was carried out among 2,437 residents of the GCC, Levant and north Africa.

aligaya@thenational.ae