Trying to create a culture of saving in Dubai


National Bonds Corp. in Dubai has launched a “Save for Life” promotion in an effort to change people’s attitudes toward saving. (NBC, described as the National Saving Scheme of the UAE, is a three-year-old joint stock shareholding company in which the government of Dubai holds a 50 percent stake.) A Mercedes is given away in each weekly drawing—taking place from October through December—for customers with holdings of at least 3,000 AED (about $800); those with 10,000 AED (about $2,700) or more are eligible for a weekly prize of 1 million AED.

At the end of the promotion, a grand prize drawing (open to customers holding at least 25,000 AED) will give away a furnished two-bedroom apartment, a Mercedes and 1 million AED.

It’s hard to imagine that these incentives will ultimately lead to a life-long savings habit or culture. Most people just need to be educated on managing their money. In Dubai, most of the expats are simply there to make money—before the recession, rising rents and the glitz and glamour of the city left them little inclined or able to save, and now they’re even less able to do so. But habits are hard to kick, and those who are accustomed to spending will continue doing so, at least to the extent that they can.

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