Qatar tops salary list as UAE payrises fall

Professionals in Qatar earn more than their counterparts in any other country in the Middle East, knocking the UAE off the top spot.

Professionals in Qatar make more money than their counterparts in any other country in the Middle East, knocking the UAE off the top spot it has commanded for the past year. More than a third of Qatar's white-collar workers, or 39 per cent, earn between US$3,001 (Dh11,000) and $8,000 each month, higher than the UAE, where 37 per cent earn between those levels, according to research by the employment website, in conjunction with the polling company YouGov Siraj.

Qatar also has the highest number of professionals earning top-tier salaries. Twelve per cent of respondents in the country said they earned more than $8,000 a month, compared with 10 per cent in the Emirates. "Qatar has lots of opportunities in the jobs market," said Jennifer Campori, the managing director for the Middle East and Europe at Charterhouse Partnership, a recruiting company. "People who are leaving for Qatar are going for 10 to 15 per cent more money than elsewhere."

In general, Miss Campori said she did not see significant differences between salaries in Qatar and the UAE. Last year, professionals in the UAE commanded higher pay than colleagues elsewhere in the region with a total of 20 per cent earning between $5,000 and $10,000 a month, and 7 per cent earning $10,000 and above. Qatar is striving to build its financial services industry, with 5,200 jobs expected to be added in the sector this year, according to a report released last week by the executive search firm Kinsey Allen International.

Qatar's economy is expected to be the region's star performer this year with predicted GDP growth of 18.5 per cent, one of the highest globally. Revenue from liquefied natural gas (LNG) bolstered the country's economic prospects during the global financial crisis. Output from Qatar, the world's top exporter of LNG, this year is expected to continue to grow. Elsewhere in the region, it appears that the financial crisis is still taking its toll on salaries, the survey said.

More than half of the professionals in the UAE did not receive a pay rise this year - an indication, perhaps, that many companies remain focused on balancing their books after the downturn. Only 45 per cent of respondents said they received a pay rise, with just 4 per cent of those who did earn an increase happy with the level of the rise. "Although redundancies have been made, companies are still consolidating and salary increases are unlikely," said Ms Campori.

"In the financial sector, banking bonuses, which will start to come out later this month, will be the telltale signs of what will happen." Of those fortunate enough to receive a pay rise in the UAE, many felt the rising cost of living negated any benefit from the increase. Respondents said that living costs had risen by 22 per cent, while the average salary increase was just 6 per cent. Across the Middle East, salary satisfaction dipped by 2 percentage points compared with the same survey last year. In line with the regional average, just 5 per cent of those surveyed in the UAE said they were highly satisfied with their pay. Qatar was again the regional leader in this section of the survey, with 7 per cent of respondents highly satisfied with their salary.

Despite widespread unhappiness with pay increases, 42 per cent of respondents in the UAE felt they were better off than others, with 40 per cent saying they were about average. "Many of the region's professionals feel they are doing better than others in terms of their quality of life," said Joanna Longworth, the chief marketing officer at YouGov. "This demonstrates while they may be unhappy with their pay rise or the current economic conditions, in reality they still feel in a relatively good position."

Data for the salary survey was collected online last month, with 10,699 respondents from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.