Downturn has profound impact in Middle East

11 March 2010

DUBAI: The financial crisis has exerted a direct impact on three-quarters of consumers in the Middle East and North Africa, a new study has found.

YouGovSiraj, the research firm, and Bayt, the recruitment specialist, surveyed 10,699 adults in 13 markets, including Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

They found that 74% of people believed they had been personally affected by the economic downturn, while just 22% expected their country of residence to see "robust economic growth" this year.

More broadly, while the cost of living had increased by an estimated 24% in these nations over the last 12 months, according to the panel, salary levels had climbed by only 7% in the same period.

The perceived gap between the inflation in everyday expenses and wage rises reached a peak of 19% in Syria, and fell to a low of 12% in Tunisia and Qatar.

"Given the challenging economic circumstances of the past year, it comes as no surprise perhaps that so many of the region's professionals did not even receive a pay raise," said Joanna Longworth, cmo of YouGovSiraj.

Some 38% of respondents reported that they were not able to save any of their monthly salary at present, a total that incorporated a majority of contributors in Jordan and Morocco.

By contrast, this figure stood at 26% for the cohort in Qatar, and 29% among their counterparts in Oman.

The YouGovSiraj/Bayt report added that 12% of professionals in Qatar boasted a monthly income of $8,000 (€5,889; £5,356) or more, as did 10% of their peers in the UAE, 7% in Bahrain and 6% in Kuwait.

Over a third of respondents in Qatar claimed monthly earnings in the $3,001 to $8,000 range, the highest proportion in all the markets assessed.

At the other end of the spectrum, 50% of Algerians and 41% of Egyptians received under $500 a month, with just 1% and 2% of employees falling in to the highest wage bracket in these nations respectively.

In all, 5% of the study's sample agreed they were "highly satisfied" with their existing salary, while the average expected pay rise for this year was pegged at 10%.

Data sourced from Daily Star (Lebanon); additional content by Warc staff