Asian and Arab expats living in GCC countries continue to earn thousands of dollars less a month than their Western peers despite doing the same work, the Gulf Business 2013 Salary Survey has found.
Asian employees in professional jobs earn on average 26 percent less than a Westerner in the same job, while Arabs earn 15.7 percent less, the survey found, based on data gathered from recruitment companies that hire in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain.
Full details of the survey are so far only available in the print edition of Gulf Business, but according to what GB published online, wage gaps by nationality were stark in all six GCC countries.
The biggest discrepancies were found in the UAE, where the average monthly salary of a Western expatriate is $11,936 – nearly 35 percent higher than an Asian employee’s $8,853, or 15 percent higher than the $10,363 average Arab wage.
The survey also found that Arabs and Asian CEOS earned the best pay packages in Qatar.
‘Lazy, flawed’ logic
The logic behind the pay gap – that Arabs and Asians have a lower cost of living back home – is one that has drawn increasing criticism across the GCC, including from Gulf Business editor Alicia Buller.
“It’s a lazy, flawed and, frankly entitled, argument. We’re all living here in Dubai, with the same exorbitant cost of living, and we’re all doing the same jobs par for par.
Employees should be paid what they are worth. Value is not inherent in skin colour or gender. And worth must come only from an employee’s dynamism, skills, and knowledge – or we’re in danger of fooling ourselves into thinking we’re living in a civilised society.”
The survey does not delve into gender disparities in pay, but those also continue to be rife in the Gulf.
Last year, a labor survey in Qatar found that the pay gap here grew to 22.7 percent in 2011, with many women being paid 25 to 50 percent less than men, despite the fact that their working hours are comparable – and sometimes higher.
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