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Salary Trends in the Middle East – 2016

The hiring climate in the Middle East is affected tremendously by how the Oil & Gas activity shapes itself. Although the regional economies have experienced a phase of slow growth in recent times – due to reduction in oil & gas plateaued in recent months – attributed slightly to the reduction in oil and gas activities, employers are optimistic in filling up open vacancies.

The UAE region is particularly optimistic because of its bid for the Expo 2020. This has driven business growth in a lot of sectors and hence businesses are looking out for best candidates to take up critical positions and take organizations forward.


According to Robert Half’s insights, major sectors expecting growth in salaries for executives (both at the junior and senior level) would be Accounts, Finance, Financial Services, Legal, Technology, HR and Administration. Although, Construction and hospitality have been a driving force in the region, these sectors may or may not see a sharp increase in salaries for its executives. Due to low oil prices, many energy companies have either delayed or cancelled projects which has led to frozen recruitment, laying off of staff or budget cuts. This has led to lesser open positions and low probability of salary hikes in this sector.

In UAE, the average % change in salaries for junior to middle executives in the above sectors is a paltry +1.5-2%, except for HR & Admin executives who can expect raises in the range of 3-4%. Even top managers and CXOs should not expect salary increases by more than 4-5%.

In Qatar though, despite plummeting oil prices, companies are looking to spend to attract and retain talent, with salaries forecasted to rise by an average of 5% in 2016, according to a new survey.

Companies in Kuwait are probably the most pumped up in the region with forecasts of 5.2% increase in salaries. Saudi Arabia companies stand at 4.5-5%, while Bahrain is also similar to UAE at a % hike of 4.7%.


1. Robert Half’s Executive Insights
2. International Labour Organization’s Employment & Social Outlook 2016