Gulf salaries on track for weakest rise in a decade

Salaries in the Arabian Gulf region this year are expected to rise at the weakest pace in a decade as a slowing economy forces companies to tighten their belts.

Pay rises will average 5.2 per cent this year compared with 5.7 per cent last year, according to a study from the online recruitment firm GulfTalent. The increases are barely expected to cover the cost of living because of cuts to subsidies.

In Saudi Arabia, the average salary is expected to increase by 5.9 per cent, the highest in the region, marginally beating the inflation rate of 4.7 per cent this year, the study noted.

In the UAE salaries could rise by an average 5.3 per cent, followed by Qatar at 4.7 per cent. The weakest increase is expected in Bahrain at 3.7 per cent, matching the forecast inflation rate.

Last year, the UAE’s inflation rate was 4.09 per cent, with the cost of housing and education recording the steepest increases.

The report was based on a survey of 700 employers and 25,000 professionals in the six Gulf countries between December and February.

Coupled with a slowdown in recruitment, employers are also reducing headcount, GulfTalent said, with the energy and construction sectors worst affected. About 9 per cent of the com­panies surveyed in the UAE intend to reduce the number of employees, compared to 14 per cent in Saudi Arabia.

Separately, another job index showed a slowdown in employment opportunities since June last year, with the health care and education sectors generating the most jobs.

According to the Monster Employment Index UAE for February, job listings in health care and education grew 76 per cent and 72 per cent year-on-year, respectively.

The data is based on postings from employers on the online job portal in the six Arabian Gulf countries and Egypt.

Healthcare groups have been recruiting doctors as they expand their network.

At Abu Dhabi-based NMC Health, the number of doctors employed at the end of last year reached 817, an increase of 35.5 per cent year-on-year, it reported yesterday.

The healthcare sector is expected to remain robust, according to Sanjay Modi, the managing director of for India, the Middle East, South East Asia and Hong Kong.’s outlook is based on the push for medical tourism from Dubai Healthcare Authority, and the privatisation in the UAE health carespace.

“Compared to its neighbours, the UAE remains one of the best performing [Gulf] markets, mostly because of its well-diversified economy,” he said.

The economic slowdown, however, has affected the oil and gas, media and hospitality sectors, said.

Listings in UAE oil and gas sector fell by 8 per cent year-on-year in February, followed by advertising, public relations, media and entertainment at 4 per cent and hospitality at 3 per cent. This is in line with the rest of Middle East, where retail and banking and finance industries also took a hit.

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