Salary satisfaction across the Middle East is looking stable with just 3% of residents stating they are highly satisfied with their remuneration, 52% saying they are averagely satisfied and 45% stating they have low satisfaction, according to a recent research  conducted by the Middle East’s number one job site Bayt.com , in conjunction with regional research specialists YouGov Siraj . The UAE recorded 3% of respondents with high satisfaction, 50% with medium and 47% with low. Elsewhere in the Gulf and wider Middle East area, a peak of 5% of professionals highly satisfied with their salaries was witnessed in Kuwait and a low of just 2% of professionals highly satisfied in Jordan and Lebanon amongst other countries.
Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the average monthly salary differs considerably from country to country, the survey found. However, the UAE maintained a high number of professionals with the biggest salaries, with 7% earning USD $8,001 or more each month. Unsurprisingly, the Gulf region has the highest number of professionals earning top tier salaries: 9% of professionals in Bahrain earn more than $8,000 each month, as do 6% of professionals in Oman, 5% in Kuwait and 3% in KSA.
As in the previous wave, the lowest paid residents in the region are 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% of residents in Algeria earn under $500 per month compared with 50% last year. In Egypt, 53% of professionals receive up to $500 per month, along with 45% of professionals in Morocco, while only 1% of professionals in Morocco earn more than $8,000 per month, as do just 1% of professionals in Egypt.
The Middle East Salary Survey, conducted annually by Bayt.com  and YouGov Siraj , is designed to look at the current levels of wages and benefits in the region, and to gauge employee opinion and satisfaction levels vis-à-vis the salaries they receive, and how these have kept pace with the cost of living.
“There is a very high demand for accurate figures on salary levels in the Middle East across industries, job roles and career levels as we have witnessed with the tremendous uptake of the Bayt.com online Salary Calculator tool which has been the MENA region’s first pan-regional pan-industrial comprehensive online salary tool,” stated Bayt.com’s VP Sales, Amer Zureikat. “By also conducting this annual comprehensive Middle East and North Africa salary survey which covers professionals across the GCC, Levant and North Africa, we are able to shed timely light on what level of salaries people are earning and whether the Middle East’s professionals are, or indeed are not, satisfied with how much they are paid, in addition to their expectations vis-à-vis future salaries and economic conditions. 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.”
The data for the Salary Survey is collated in part by looking at whether average salary increases were in-line with the average rise in the cost of living. As found in previous Bayt.com research , professionals resoundingly felt that the average salary increase did not reflect the rise in the cost of living in any of the surveyed countries. Overall, professionals across the Middle East felt that the cost of living had increased by 24.6%, yet the average salary increased by just 7.6% - more than two thirds less. In the UAE, respondents said that living costs had increased by 22.2% while the average salary increase was just 6.2%.
This year, the biggest disparity in the increase in living costs compared to salary raise was felt in Egypt - where respondents felt the cost of living had increased by 30%, while salaries had increased by just 9.4%.
This year’s salary survey also looked at the respondents’ level of satisfaction with the pay rise they received. For the most part, the region’s respondents did not receive a pay rise, with a sizeable 38% missing out on a pay rise.. In the UAE, just 3% of professionals said they were very happy with their salary increase, 7% were very unhappy, 14% consider themselves as unhappy, and 6% agreed that their pay rise was fair given the economic circumstances.
The survey also looked at what percentage of their salary people manage to save each month. The results showed that a high proportion, 42%, do not manage to save any of their monthly salary at all. Jordan and Morocco were the countries where respondents were least likely to save, with 60% and 52%, respectively, stating that they save no money each month. The best savers were respondents in Qatar - 36% of those surveyed managing to save between 16% and 75% of their salaries each month.
Despite the widespread unhappiness with pay rises, the region’s respondents still believe they are better off than others in terms of their quality of life in their country of residence, when compared to their peers. In the UAE, 63% of professionals said they are better off – to varying extents- than others, while 37% said they were about average. At the other end of the spectrum, just 16% of respondents said they were worse off than others. Those feeling worse off were respondents in Jordan - 27% said they were worse off than others of their generation.
“Employers and employees alike need to look at studies like this to help in gauging both what to pay and what to expect, respectively. However, considering the changes in governments taking place in the region, it is safe to presume that this report’s numbers are bound to change drastically. Indeed, we are living in very interesting times and it will be exciting to see how those times are reflected in terms of employment opportunities. Will people in the region see more satisfaction once the changes they fought for are implemented?” said Sundip Chahal, Chief Operating Officer of YouGov Siraj.
The study additionally revealed that across the Middle East, 75% of residents feel they have personally been affected by the global economic crisis. In the UAE, this figure was at 73%, with just 27% saying they have not been affected. Residents in Jordan - 85% - were the hardest hit amongst the surveyed countries, while least affected were respondents in Oman and Morocco, where 62% and 63% respectively said they have been affected by the crisis.
Asked their feelings about the current economic climate in terms of the labour market, almost a quarter of respondents, 24%, said they feel optimistic that there will be robust economic growth in their country of residence and more jobs available in a year’s time, with just 17% feeling pessimistic about the future. Tunisia and Qatar were the most optimistic about the future - 38% and 31%, respectively said they were feeling very optimistic, while Jordan and Lebanon were the least optimistic with just 15% and 18% of professionals- respectively- stating they are very optimistic. In the UAE, just 14% said they were quite pessimistic while 24% said they were very optimistic.
“The salary survey serves to paint a clear picture of economic conditions inside a particular country and allows organisations, recruiters and stakeholders across all types of industry to see how salary levels are changing from year to year. By conducting such a survey, we can add value to organisations across the region by giving them an insight into current trends and feelings about the labour market, which can then be used as impetus for affecting change. These surveys are especially useful during these times of turmoil with highly changing circumstances. As such we recommend employers await our next survey that will surely track the region’s recent events,” concluded Zureikat.
Data for the 2011 Salary Survey was collected online in February 2011 with 8,565 respondents across the UAE, KSA, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Males and females of all nationalities aged over 20 years were included in the survey.