Overall card spending in the United Arab Emirates rose 14 per cent during the holy month of Ramadan, compared to the same period last year, a new study showed.
According to a report by payment solutions firm Network International, card spending rose within the UAE by 17 per cent year-on-year. Tourists’ spend rose seven per cent during this period.
The study noted that spending by UAE issued credit and debit cards made up 75 per cent of total expenditure during Ramadan.
Among international visitors, North Americans made up seven per cent of the total spend by foreign visitors during this period, followed by GCC tourists who accounted for three per cent of card spend.
Card spending from other parts of the world was flat, driven by a significant drop from the Russians (down 30 per cent), the Chinese (down 22 per cent) and the Germans (down eight per cent).
Meanwhile, expenditure by visitors from the UK and Saudi Arabia saw the largest growth during the period, the study said. Nigerians constituted about three per cent of card spending by foreigners in the UAE.
The majority of card spend was carried out in hotels, largely driven by UAE residents taking advantage of staycation deals. Cards were also used extensively in restaurants, with spending up 27 per cent during Ramadan.
However, malls saw a challenging period in sustaining expenditure via cards. Card spending on jewelry and other luxury watches remained flat but spending on fashion grew 12 per cent, mainly driven by Nigerians, the study added.
Supermarkets saw an increase of 12 per cent indicating a rise in household consumption during Ramadan.
Services generally performed well compared to 2014, with card spending on professional and government services up well over 25 per cent over last year. These sectors largely witnessed domestic spending, the study said.
The UAE, which is rapidly moving towards a cashless society, is also among the top markets for payments firms such as MasterCard and Visa.
MasterCard recently revealed that it has doubled card numbers in the Middle East and Africa region to 100 million over the last three years. Within the region, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among the fastest growing markets for card sales.