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Arab youths struggling with credit card debt

Julie Sherrier

When you give a kid a credit card, expect trouble. That’s proving to be the universal truth as credit card use explodes across the globe.

Case in point: A recent Burson-Marsteller survey revealed that in Saudi Arabia, 52 percent of its 18- to 24-year-olds are struggling with credit card debt. The survey included both Arab nationals and Arab expatriates. Given the growth of credit cards in Saudi Arabia, it’s no surprise that young adults participated in their popularity.

According to, the number of credit cards issued in that country rose 104 percent between 2003 and 2008 to 12.3 million.

According to an article in Arab News about the study, “misuse of credit cards by young people is a major problem in Saudi Arabia.” Maybe Saudi Arabia ought to consider implementing laws similar to the American Credit CARD Act, which, since Feb. 22, 2010, has barred young adults under 21 from getting credit card accounts in their own names unless they have a parent co-sign or can prove they have income to pay the bills when they arrive.

Also, the survey results contradict “common Western misperceptions of Arab youths as conservative and inward-looking and says that young Arab men and women see themselves as fully engaged global citizens and aspire to the same privileges and freedoms as those taken for granted in the West.” I guess part of becoming “global citizens” includes careless credit card spending.

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