Residents of the UAE hold nearly one-third of the credit cards in the 275-million strong Middle East and Pakistan region, making it the most important local market for the credit card industry.

Just 8.5 million credit cards have been issued in these emerging markets, according to figures provided by payment system MasterCard.

In the UAE, the second largest Arab nation by gross domestic product, 2.2 million people out of an overall population of 4.1 million have bank accounts. Collectively they own 2.4 million credit cards, said Denzil Lawson, MasterCard Middle East and Levant general manager.

The figures underline the UAE’s importance in the region’s credit card industry despite its relatively small population, he said. While 59 per cent of UAE residents own credit cards, just five per cent of Saudi residents have credit, and a paltry 1.9 per cent in Egypt own credit cards. (By Ivan Gale – Gulf News