In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the residential sector is the second highest energy-consuming sector with an overall share of almost 27%; an inclination expected to keep increasing, urgently calling for strategies to control. A wide energy performance gap has been recognized as a result of occupants' behavior, catalyzing further research. Understanding the housing occupants' motivation to save energy can feed into adequate measures to lead to cost saving and resources conservation. The UAE has a distinctive population composition made of a relatively small national group and a much larger percentage of expatriates. There are major differences between the two groups, including energy tariffs, financial and non-financial subsidies and home ownership that result in different impacts on each group's behavior towards energy use and saving. Yet, this topic on occupants' motivation and behavior has not been explored in the conventional housing sector in the UAE. Hence, this study aims to explore the impact of the economic factors on local and expatriate housing occupants' motivation to save energy in the UAE. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 housing occupants (14 locals and 18 expatriates) all living in the city of Al Ain in the UAE. The major finding reveals that economic factors influence, in different manners, housing occupants' motivation to save energy. Home ownership, incentives, and the mandatory energy costs were found to be the main motivational drivers for local occupants. The increased energy cost, fines and the comparatively lower income levels of the expatriate occupants were found to entice their propensity for energy-saving. Also, the lack of home ownership has prevented and deterred the expatriate group from saving energy as house renters. The study offers ample data which is timely and relevant to guide the development of effective financial strategies and incentives focused on local and expatriate residential occupants' motivation.