High cost of living drives expats away from Gulf

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Dubai, Feb 25 (UNI) High cost of living and no savings are driving expatriate workers away from the Gulf as the oil rich nation find it difficult to get hands from Asia for a variety of jobs ranging from construction to teaching to nursing.

An online survey, conducted by job site Bayt.com and market research specialist YouGovSiraj, showed that 37 per cent of the respondents are considering leaving the UAE to work elsewhere and improve their finances.

The survey polled 15,000 employees in six GCC countries, covering 20 industry sectors, which included automotive, finance, advertising, information technology and pharmaceuticals.

It was found that the spiralling cost of living in the region has far outstripped the wage increases granted by companies across the GCC in various sectors, driving workers to explore better opportunities elsewhere.

The disparity was most pronounced in Qatar, with a perceived average cost of living spike of 38 per cent, 22 per cent higher than salary increases. In Dubai, living expenses were alleged to have risen by 37 per cent, representing a gap of 20 per cent, the study said.

Lenny, a worker in Al Quoz, said she is planning to quit her job because her income is hardly enough to cope with the growing cost of housing, transportation and food in Dubai.

Considering the number of workers planning to relocate or quit their current jobs, the pinch will also be felt by businesses themselves, said chief executive officer Nassim Ghrayeb of YouGovSiraj.

''The story here is not just about employees, these results reveal just how much of a headache the spiralling cost of living and weak dollar is having on employers, who also need to consider their margins,'' said Mr Ghrayeb.

According to the study, about 40 per cent of the UAE workers said rising expenses might force them to resign and look for a better job in the same industry while 24 per cent thought of switching to another industry.

In Saudi Arabia, corresponding figures were 45 and 19 per cent. Only 15 per cent of people in Qatar and 20 per cent in Oman said they would consider changing industries, the Gulf News said.

Qatar had the most number of disgruntled workers, with 50 per cent saying they considered relocating to another country or returning home. Oman came second with 47 per cent, while Kuwait saw the lowest number of professionals planning to relocate abroad, at 32 per cent.

Bayt.com chief executive officer Rabea Ataya said around 70 per cent of the respondents said they have held two or more jobs in the past five years.

She said people switch jobs about once over a two-year period, while those whose salaries have been increased tend to stay loyal to the company.

''Employers who do not close the gap between earnings and living expenses will have difficulty attracting and retaining people,'' Ms Ataya said.

On the positive side, the study found that employees in the UAE and Qatar were the highest paid last year. The two countries, as well as Bahrain, also enjoyed the highest annual pay increases in the region, with Qatar averaging 16 per cent a year and the UAE and Bahrain both coming in at 17 per cent, compared to 12 per cent in Saudi Arabia, the region's lowest.

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