By Andy Sambidge
New salary survey says Bahrain has highest percentage of people earning at least $8,000 a month
Professionals working across the Middle East felt that the cost of living rose by 24.6 percent during the past year and yet the average salary increased by just 7.6 percent, according to a new survey.
The biggest disparity in the increase in living costs compared to salary rise was felt in Egypt - where respondents felt the cost of living had increased by 30 percent, while salaries had grown by just 9.4 percent.
Nearly half of employees working in the Middle East say they are not satisfied with their current salaries, according to the bayt.com poll, which added that just three percent of respondents said they were "highly satisfied" with their remuneration.
Another 52 percent said they were "averagely satisfied" while 45 percent said they had low satisfaction.
The survey, carried out in conjunction with regional research specialists YouGov Siraj, said the highest percentage of highly satisfied employees was in Kuwait (five percent) .
A low of just two percent of professionals were highly satisfied in Jordan and Lebanon, the survey added.
Amer Zureikat, Bayt.com's vice president for Sales, said: "This year we have seen an increase in the number of the lowest salary professionals in the North Africa region which could indicate that low wages were also part of the reasons that sparked the recent uprise against governments in the region."
Bahrain recorded the highest percentage of professionals with the biggest salaries, with nine percent earning $8,000 or more each month, the poll revealed.
Generally, the Gulf region had the highest number of professionals earning top tier salaries - seven percent of professionals in the UAE earned more than $8,000 each month, six percent in Oman, five percent in Kuwait and three percent in Saudi Arabia.
The lowest paid residents in the region were in the North African countries of Algeria, Egypt and Morocco - with the total number of professionals receiving the lowest salary level having risen in each country.
This year, 56 percent of residents in Algeria earn under $500 per month compared with 50% last year, while only one percent of professionals in Egypt and Morocco earned more than $8,000 per month.
The Middle East Salary Survey, conducted annually, is designed to look at the current levels of wages and benefits in the region, and to gauge employee satisfaction levels.
This year's salary survey also looked at the respondents' level of satisfaction with the pay rise they received. However, 38 percent of respondents said they had missed out on a pay rise.
The study also revealed that across the Middle East, 75 percent of respondents felt they had personally been affected by the global economic crisis.
Data for the 2011 Salary Survey was collected online in February 2011 with 8,565 respondents across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.
Here in the UAE, we have been affected by a major utility firm's sudden cancellation of our company's biggest project. Consequently, a number of employees were terminated and more will be coming. It's unfortunate that this came at a time when we're supposed to have our annual increase, which naturally got indefinitely deferred (I got 17% last year). We just hope that our company fully recovers but it'll depend on a lot of factors, foremost of which is Management's no-nonsense stance and resolve to do much better, of course, with the help of other businesses, banks & clients that are still willing to give our company a chance to once more be profitable. Overall, UAE is a very nice, safe place to work and live in, except for the very hot & humid climate some months of the year. With tax-free salaries, good medical insurance, cheap public transport and other excellent government facilities/infrastructures, I'd definitely rank the UAE as the most livable country in the Middle East.