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Sat 31 Mar 2012 09:46 AM

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Bahrain's job market worst hit by Arab Spring - survey

Poll results show impact of uprisings on recruitment markets across the MENA region

Bahrain's job market worst hit by Arab Spring - survey
Bahrain has seen regular protests since the start of the unrest in early 2011

Recruitment opportunities in Bahrain have slumped since the outset of unrest in the Gulf kingdom, according to respondents to a new Bayt.com survey.

The survey, in partnership with the Programme on Arab Reform and Democracy at Stanford University's Centre on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, revealed the impact of the Arab Spring on economies in the MENA region.

The majority of survey respondents stated that the Arab Spring had resulted in deteriorating employment conditions, with 65 percent in Bahrain saying the jobs situation now is either worse or much worse than before the uprisings.

This compared to 58 percent of respondents in Tunisia, 68 percent in Egypt and 71 percent in Syria - other countries directly hit by unrest.

Personal economic situations were also perceived to be negatively affected by the Arab Spring, with 55 percent saying they were worse off now compared to before the unrest.

By comparison, the percentage of GCC-based professionals saying that their individual economic situation is now worse was much lower.

The survey showed it was 30 percent in the UAE, 22 percent in Saudi Arabia, 24 percent in Qatar, 29 percent in Oman, and 25% in Kuwait.

More than a third (34 percent) of professionals in the private sector said that they have been negatively affected compared to 20.22 percent in the public sector.

In most countries, roughly two-thirds of respondents expressed interest in the private sector, with 75 percent of Bahrainis and 66 percent of Saudis saying they would prefer to work in a private company.

Professionals in Qatar were among the most interested in working in the public sector, with only 39 percent wanting to switch, according to the survey, which also involved research group YouGov.

Sundip Chahal, CEO, YouGov, said: "While the effects of the recession are apparent, the Middle East's businesses have also had to deal with the more recent Arab Spring.

"For the most part, countries consider their personal employment and business situations to be the same. Yet, in those countries hardest hit by the Arab Spring - Bahrain, Egypt and Syria - the tone is that overall employment conditions, both personal and countrywide, have become somewhat worse as a result."

Rabea Ataya, CEO of Bayt.com, added: "Our data shows that over a quarter of entrepreneurs in the Arab world were motivated to start their own companies due to lack of job opportunities.

"Therefore, as a result of recent economic challenges in the region, we should expect to see a growing interest in entrepreneurship as a way to drive income and a growing contribution of the SME sector in providing jobs."

Data for the survey was collected online from 12,518 respondents from the GCC, Levant and North Africa.

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