Thursday, January 09, 2014
Qataris in Debt
It's been a busy week so I haven't had much time to catch up on things but there was one piece of old news I wanted to share. Back in November when I wrote an article for Doha News I noted how I had heard anecdotally that many Qatari families were in debt, and speculated that it might be due to pressure by society to live a lavish lifestyle. A news article in the Peninsula from a couple of weeks ago appears to support that assertion.
Here's the key statements from the article:
A local charitable organisation has plans to start an awareness drive against rising consumerism in the Qatari community that has an increasing number of families trapped in a bank debt spiral.
Studies have earlier shown that some three-fourths of Qatari families are in debt . . . . .
Much money sought through bank loan is spent on entertainment, RAF said, implying overseas trips made by many Qatari and GCC families for shopping and fun — mostly with the money sought from banks as loan.
It’s unfortunate but not surprising to me that many Qatari families are in debt. Over the years I've seen plenty of ads from the banks targeting Qataris, advertising things like vacation loans, and many spend to maintain a lifestyle I don't think all can afford. It’s a stereotype that all Qataris are rich, and many are rich, but not all of them if the banks realize lots of Qataris need a loan to take a vacation.
In Canada there used to be a TV show called Til Debt Do Us Part (maybe it’s still going), where an experienced credit counselor would try to help couples in financial trouble, inevitably caused by spending more money than they earn. It’s a great show and it emphasized communication, budgeting, and not spending money you don’t have. The host of the show was tough and she didn't pull any punches when explaining to these couples why they're in trouble. Maybe Qatar should consider a Qatari-version of a show like this, or some other way to try to get across the importance of budgeting and managing money. I don’t think it’s taught in schools here.