Change consumption pattern, save more

Haider Al Lawati – haiderdawood@hotmail.com – A number of seminars held at the local and regional levels over the past years have recommended the need for moderation and zero-waste in social events such as weddings, funerals, etc., in accordance with the teachings of Islamic Sharia on one hand, and the need to promote the concept of savings among societies on the other.
Throughout the year, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, a lot of food is trashed, a practice contrary to the Islamic Sharia which requires consideration of such aspects.
These cases pose financial burden to families, causing some to borrow from others or borrow loans from banks, thus limiting any chances of savings they might have. This inflicts society with many diseases and eats away at its values and noble practices.
According to the Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, global imports of the six GCC states exceed $100 billion per annum, 25 per cent of which is foodstuff. The value of food imports in GCC states increased at an annual rate of 11.2 per cent, an equivalent of $23.6 billion
in 2014 to $29.17 billion in 2016. It is expected to reach $32.43 billion in 2017, according to the latest reports.
Food consumption in GCC states is expected to increase at an annual compound rate from 4.2 per cent, equal to 48.2 million tonnes, in 2016 to 59.2 million tonnes in 2021. This increase is attributed to the rise in consumer base as well as high per capita income, especially with the recovery of Gulf economies from the recent setbacks.
High dependence on imports is a challenge for economies of GCC states as they continue to devise strategies to revive the local economy and maintain sustainability of food imports.
Some figures show 88 per cent of Arab households consume more than their requirement, and that the flood of consumer advertising is wasting 76 per cent of family’s income every month.
Statistics also show Arab countries waste nearly 45 per cent of food when mortality rate is skyrocketing due to famine, malnutrition and diseases in some Arab and Islamic countries.
Spending on luxury goods and entertainment has become a threat to most families in Arab and Islamic societies, devouring their monthly incomes.
Most families can no longer balance monthly incomes and expenses or try to save part of it for a rainy day. This is common in Oman and other Arab countries, where mega malls are fast spreading, decorated with all kinds of commercial and consumer advertisements. Promotions are also seen in newspapers and other conventional media (TV, radio, etc), especially during certain months, like Ramadan, end of the calendar year and other religious and national events.
Even on social media, where ads pop up on modern mobile handsets (smartphones), the Internet and other contemporary devices. These devices consume a big chunk of people’s monthly income, besides spending on cosmetics, entertainment, luxury goods, consumer goods, cars, furniture, clothes and others.
This makes saving a lot harder for many Gulf and Arab families, who are resorting to banks and finance companies to borrow loans to sometimes pay for recurrent goods and products.
Not only do these trends disrupt the process of moderate spending and saving, but also deny individuals any future opportunities to achieve a better standard of living.
Anyone can try and save even a small amount of their income daily or monthly. In economic conditions experienced by Gulf economies due to low oil prices, it is important to change consumption patterns, especially in terms of savings, and finding deductibles from the family budget for such conditions and other emergencies.