DUBAI: Consumer confidence declined in the Middle East during the first half of the year, but remains considerably above the worldwide average, new figures show.

MasterCard, the financial services group, polled 11,367 people in 25 countries, and broke out the results for Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

On a regional basis, respondents in these markets returned an average score of 83.5 points on the regular barometer of popular sentiment, where 100 points indicated the highest level of optimism.

This marked a contraction of 2.2 points compared with the second half of 2011, but still came in ahead of Africa, on 76.1 points, and Asia Pacific, which registered 57.2 points.

Qatar returned what was described by the analysis as a "remarkable" rating of 96.6 points, up three points on the previous round of research.

A further three nations fell into the "extremely optimistic" category, led by Oman on 91.5 points, although this constituted a 2.5-point slide.

Elsewhere, Saudi Arabia, on 90.9 points, enjoyed an improvement from 83.9 points, and Egypt saw totals increase from 88.3 points to 90.7 points.

Participants in the United Arab Emirates logged 86 points, ahead of Kuwait on 84.7 points, meaning the overall prognosis in each of these areas remained highly positive.

In contrast, rising political and social instability in Jordan delivered a 26.2 point decline compared with the closing six months of last year, to 44.3 points.

When assessing income prospects, scores reached 89.8 across the Middle East, versus 91.3 between July and December 2011. These figures stood at 82.9 points and 87.6 points for quality of life.

The public view of the economic climate also deteriorated from 86.5 points to 84.4 points, while the index covering the employment market was flat on 85.5 points.

Data sourced from MasterCard; additional content by Warc staff