As the wage gap among white-collar foreign workers of different nationalities closes across the Gulf, Arab expats have pulled ahead of their Western counterparts in Qatar, a new survey has found.
The change comes amid rising compensation for Arabs and declining wages for positions held by Westerners and Asians working in Qatar, according to data published this week by Gulf Business.
The publication collected salary information for 20 management-level positions in fields such as healthcare, real estate, human resources and the media in all the GCC countries, based on input from four recruitment companies.
Contributors to the survey aren’t suggesting that current Western and Asian expats are taking pay cuts; instead, employers are lowering their salary offers as positions turn over.
An unweighted average of the 20 positions shows white-collar Arab expats earned an average monthly salary of US$12,518. That’s 1.5 per cent more than the average salary for Western workers ($12,332) in the same occupations.
The data reflects a considerable reversal from 2013, when Western expats made an average of $13,117 per month, 13 percent more than Arab workers in Qatar ($11,595).
Asian expats trailed far behind in both years and saw their average salary drop from $9,878 per month in 2013 to $9,571 this year.
The finding that wages are declining for professional positions from Western and Asian countries runs counter to a pair of surveys released earlier this year that found employers plan to hike salaries in order to attract employees.
If the Gulf Business findings are accurate, it could alleviate fears of rampant wage inflation caused by Dubai and Qatar competing for skilled foreign workers in the run up to the 2020 World Expo and 2022 World Cup.
The Qatar numbers reflect a Gulf-wide trend that’s seen the premium paid to Western expats over Arabs shrink from 14.5 per cent last year to 2.38 per cent in 2014, according to Gulf Business.
Like in Qatar, Arab expats across the GCC are earning more, while salaries for the average Western and Asian white-collar worker are declining.
Ian Giulianotti, the director at Nadia Recruitment & Training, gave the following explanation to Gulf Business:
“There has been an influx of well- qualified Arabs into the GCC, especially the UAE, and they are taking senior positions that were previously being held by European and American nationals…”
“Over the last two to three years, as (Western employees) are leaving, companies are taking the opportunity to hire the same standard of worker but at slightly lower salaries.”