Consumer confidence recorded an almost threefold increase in the UAE in the second half of 2009, according to the MasterCard Worldwide Index of Consumer Confidence Survey released today.

The UAE’s index score leapt from 29.6 six months ago to its current 86.1, registering the biggest growth in consumer sentiment among the six regional markets surveyed. The other countries included Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Lebanon.

“Consumer confidence in the UAE has significantly increased and consumers appear optimistic about the future,” says Raghu Malhotra, area business head, Middle East, Gulf countries, MasterCard Worldwide.

Released bi-annually, the index is based on a survey which measures consumer confidence on prevailing expectations in the market for the next six months based on five economic indicators: Economy, Employment, Stock Market, Regular Income and Quality of Life.

However, the survey was conducted from 1 October to 9 November and therefore does not take into account the impact on consumer confidence of Dubai World’s $26bn debt standstill request in November last year. It is likely that sentiments today could be quite different.

Of the six markets, Qatar currently enjoys the highest level of consumer confidence with an index score of 89, while Lebanon recorded the lowest score of 55.