Cardholders across Middle East and North Africa spent nearly US$9.3 billion on their Visa debit, prepaid and credit cards during the Holy month of Ramadan and Eid in 2015: "Visa Ramadan and Eid Spend Report"

Fashion retail, ATM cash, supermarkets, luxury goods retail and general department store purchases emerge as top 5 merchant categories for Visa cardholders during the Holy Month

Dubai, UAE: 5 October, 2015 - The luxury segment in the MENA region continues to remain resilient in the face of global economic challenges including low oil prices and weakening currencies like the Russian Rouble and the Chinese Yuan, according to the Ramadan and Eid Spend Report 2015 released today by Visa the global payments technology company.

The report analysed domestic and international (known as cross-border) data spend during the holiday period across 32 merchant sectors including fashion and electronics retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, hospitals and financial institutions, on all Visa products.

The report revealed the top five categories for cardholder spends across the MENA region during the Holy Month in 2015 - these were fashion retail, ATM cash, supermarkets, luxury goods retail and general department store purchases, with spends amounting to US$9.3 billion in one month alone (June - July 2015). This continual trend is a reassuring sign for the retail sector in the Middle East and for investors in the region.

Mainly, the findings revealed that shoppers from the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman drove sales across the MENA region during the Holy month. Other merchant categories included government services, construction services, airlines, accommodation and auto services.

Ihab Ayoub, General Manager MENA at Visa says: "Visa's Ramadan and Eid Spend Report for 2015 provides investors and stakeholders with key insights into spending patterns during this season. Luxury and fashion retail have traditionally been the mainstay of merchant spends during the Holy Month and the findings from the report clearly reinforce this trend. Further, the shift to electronic payments continues to drive growth, supported by the adoption of e-payments by many governments in the region.

"As financial literacy across the region improves, residents and visitors are becoming more conscious of responsible credit card spending, while enjoying the safety and security of transacting with Visa. In the UAE alone, we recorded spends of US$ 2.9 billion over a single month with Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the USA emerging as the top source markets in 2015."

Visa continues to make steady progress toward providing more people in more places the opportunity to transact on the Visa network. The network's flexibility enables Visa to meet the growing demand for electronic payments around the world by connecting new acceptance locations and extending the reach of Visa's products and services to even the most remote areas.

*VisaNet analysed spend data across key MENA markets: GCC, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. All figures are based on USD

**Includes automated cash services

About Visa:
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions, and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world's most advanced processing networks -- VisaNet -- that is capable of handling more than 56,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products.

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© Press Release 2015