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REPORT: Optimism & Consumer Confidence in Lebanon

“Optimism is a tendency to expect the best possible outcome or dwell on the most hopeful aspects of a situation.”

You might just have said: No way, no one thinks this way in our daily life. And we could say about you: You are not optimistic even when we’re talking about optimism. Other people who believe in this definition might just have said: I love the feeling of being optimistic.

According to Gallup’s survey of 16 countries in the Arab world, about 9 in 10 residents of Qatar and Oman say their national economy is getting better. Residents of Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen, the Palestinian Territories, and Bahrain are among the least optimistic.

The 92% of Qatar respondents who believe their national economy is getting better likely reflected years of strong economic growth in the country that accelerated in 2011. Below, you will find the list in order of the percentage that says the economic conditions in their country are “getting better”.

On the contrary, Lebanese are among the least optimistic in the region said Clancy Bertane, Consulting Specialist at Gallup, she added on Gallup.com “with 13% saying their economy is getting better, and among the most pessimistic, with 65% saying their economy is getting worse. Although optimism in Lebanon is low, the 13% who say the economy is getting better represents an increase from late 2010 when 7% said their economy was getting better. This suggests that even though Lebanon essentially avoided the global financial crisis, political instability continues to cloud its residents’ economic outlook.”

As a youth culture consultant at Youngberry, I can say that our observations and findings on youth aspiration and perspectives totally support those figures mentioned by Gallup. Young Lebanese are not optimistic about their future due to the sociopolitical situation as well as the lack of good-paying jobs. But, what those numbers don’t reveal, and probably were not intended to, is that young Lebanese are enjoying living day-by-day and fully committed to their current and new daily work as well as social and sporting activities. Therefore, if you talk to a Lebanese if he enjoyed his/her day yesterday, the majority would say they did, but if you talk to them about their future in Lebanon, they would likely say they would like to migrate to a different country.

Furthermore, Lebanon was among the countries that are exceptionally inclining in consumer confidence according to a recent regional survey by Bayt.com and YouGov the Consumer Confidence Index of September 2011. The index analyzes the perceptions and attitudes of Middle Eastern consumers regarding the economy of their countries, their personal financial and job situation, their likelihood to purchase and invest and the employment and jobs market in general.

According to this year’s September index, young Lebanese are willing to spend more on consumer goods. Which means, regardless of the political instability or being pessimistic about their future, they are more likely to spend more on consumer goods now and in the future in a way the optimism percentage is not directly correlated with daily decisions on purchase behavior. This observation supports the idea that optimism can affect on consumer purchase for some consumer goods and can be insignificant on others.

Speaking of optimism in Lebanon, our friends at Born Interactive started 2009 an interesting, un-missable initiative to confront the negative vibes and uncertainty due to the evolving and escalating global financial crisis, it’s called Opt-in-ism. It’s the only initiative of its kind that I know of. I encourage the authors, Fadi Sabbagha and his friends, to regularly write and disseminate optimism around the web and on social networks.

Nevertheless, one initiative can’t solve a generation issue; we encourage more initiatives to compete on changing young Arab’s, and specifically Lebanese, perspectives, fears, ideas, and aspirations in order to create positive thinking and optimistic actions. We promise you to create and launch at least one initiative that supports this movement in 2012.

Now, say this sentence in loud voice:

I’m hopeful and I want to emphasize on the good part of our situation in Lebanon rather than the bad part; I believe that good things will happen in the future.

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