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The difference between perception and reality – a lesson from Dubai’s inflation statistics

Dubai property market

We’re a fickle bunch, and we tend to dismiss information sources which we think don’t paint the whole picture no matter if they’re right or wrong.

April 7, 2013 10:25 by

I’m sure all of you out there know how the saying about statistics goes. To quote Mark Twain, there’s “lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The challenge when it comes to communicating anything is to be credible and sincere. No matter how shocking the information may be, if it’s coming from a person you trust you will believe it.

A wonderful story dropped into my lap last week, written by the wonderfully talented Nadeem Hanif at The National Newspaper. The story, which was entitled ‘Dubai cost of living falls as rent, utilities and clothes drop in price’ began as follows:

Despite a widely held belief that rents and household bills have been on the rise, the Inflation and Consumer Price Index 2012 compiled by Dubai Statistics Centre showed inflation at minus 1.71 per cent.

Rents fell by 7.65 per cent, said the report, and were the main contributor to a group reduction of 6.19 per cent in housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuel.

After listing the main jaw-dropping statistic, which was supplied as part of Dubai Statistics Centre’s Inflation and Consumer Price Index for 2012, Nadeem went on to list the other official numbers for price fluctuations. If you have the time, do read the original piece to see if you agree.

What Nadeem then does is a delight to the readers out there. He puts the official statistics into context by doing his own anecdotal research:

Consumers say they are struggling to feel a drop in living costs, despite the official figures.

“I do feel it’s getting more expensive here and it looks like it will continue to do so,” said Amanda Friars, from the UK.

“I think the years of low rent are over now anyway so this year I’m expecting to pay more for that, as well as the usual price increases in food and drink that seem to happen every year.”

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