PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to examine the antecedents, cultivation, behaviours and consequences of materialism in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Given the UAE’s dramatic transformation into a developed and commercialised nation, such an investigation is highly warranted.Design/methodology/approachIn this study, four focus groups and 25 in-depth interviews with UAE nationals were conducted. A conceptual model theorising the antecedents, cultivation, behaviours and consequences of materialism in the UAE emerged from a grounded theory analysis of the primary data and existing literature.FindingsRapid development, commercialisation and a substantial increase in new wealth have led to the development and socialisation of material values. Conspicuous and status consumption is creating an increasingly judgmental consumer society that is further cultivating material values in an ongoing cycle. Traditional Emirati values are also being expressed through materialistic displays. The consequences of materialism for the Emirati population include both positive and negative impacts on well-being, an increase in financial distress, delayed marriage and family conflict.Practical implicationsThe model guides policy makers beyond constraining consumption via advertising and financial regulation towards breaking the cycles that cultivate harmful materialistic tendencies. The use of a more socio-cultural approach is recommended, which includes building self-esteem, resilience to judgements, use of cultural influencers, re-direction efforts and campaigns raising awareness and recognition of materialism as a social problem.Originality/valueThis is the first study to develop a comprehensive model of the antecedents, cultivation, behaviours and consequences of materialism in an emerging market.
International Journal of Emerging Markets – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 26, 2019
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