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American Express Middle East Spending Survey shows significant change in luxury spending habits across MENA region

• Results reveal Lebanese residents prioritize spending on enriching experiences such as holidays

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 assets, such as high-end fashion and personal accessories.

The American Express Middle East Spending Survey was conducted by YouGov across the MENA region. Looking specifically at Lebanon, 65% of respondents say they prioritise spending on luxury experiences, which is above the regional average of 59%. In Lebanon, a majority choose to spend their money on holidays with 54% ranking holidays their number one luxury spending priority, well above the regional average of 43%. It also contrasts with the picture of the region as a whole where social events such as sporting activities tend to attract most spending.  When it comes to other experiences, Lebanese rank spending on members’ clubs as their second most important spending category with 50% ranking this as important to them.

Commenting on the results, Mazin Khoury, CEO, American Express Middle East said: “Over recent years, we’ve seen a major shift in the way people spend and make luxury purchases and investments. Increasingly they are focusing on buying experiences, and the memories that go with them. Our survey shows the Lebanese are very focused on holidays, choosing to relax and enjoy time away from their day-to-day lives.”

Despite the focus on experiences, respondents in Lebanon are continuing to spend on luxury goods. Luxury food is the leading category of expenditure with 27% of people nominating this as their number one focus. High-end electronics (23%) and designer wear and fashion (21%) make up the top three categories

“Our Survey shows that increasingly Lebanese luxury spending is set to enable them to explore their passions and maintain their personal wellbeing through experiential luxury. Overall, luxury spending on both goods and services is set to remain strong during the remainder of 2014 and 2015, and this supports the trends we’ve seen in the first half of 2014 which shows a significant increase in Cardmember spending” added Khoury.

*The American Express Middle East Spending Survey was conducted by YouGov in May 2014 amongst a random sample of 853 respondents earning USD64k plus per annum. The respondents were drawn from across the region (Bahrain, Jordan, KSA, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and UAE) and were polled using face-to-face interviews.

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