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Salary expectations for 2021 in GCC are optimistic with nearly half of employers planning to increase pay rates in their organisation in the next 12 months. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: Salaries for the majority of professionals in the Gulf region were unaffected or positively impacted over the past 12 months, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, according to Hays 2021 Salary & Employment Report, released on Wednesday.

The report, which was compiled from a survey of more than 3,500 employers and employees from across the region, found that while 18 per cent of working professionals’ salaries decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, a significant 34 per cent increased and 48 per cent remained the same.

“As ever, when it comes to salaries, it has been a mixed picture for professionals in the region," said Chris Greaves, Managing Director of Hays Gulf region.

IT does well

The report found that of all the different job functions, IT and tech professionals experienced the greatest number of pay increases in 2020 (38 per cent), while the lowest number of salary increases were paid to those in Office Support and Administration roles (26 per cent).

“Employers are willing to pay high salaries for the top tech talent to ensure they are setup as efficiently as possible for business going forward," said Greaves.

Meanwhile, telecoms, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, and banking and financial services were the three most "robust" industries in 2020, with only 6 per cent of employees within these experiencing a pay cut.

In comparison, the four sectors with the introduced highest salary cuts were aviation, hospitality and tourism, engineering, and property, with 34 per cent of employees in these industries experiencing a pay reduction.

"Lockdowns and threats of spreading the virus reduced tourism numbers overnight in March and there are still many barriers to travelling," said Greaves.

"Demand for oil and oil prices have therefore fallen and resulted in some significant cutbacks on fiscal and monetary policies of governments whose economies are somewhat reliant on the Oil and Gas industry – namely those in the Gulf," he added.

Salaries will pick up

Salary expectations for 2021 are optimistic with nearly half of employers planning to increase pay rates in their organisation in the next 12 months. Similarly, 47 per cent of employees expect their salary to increase in 2021, most commonly by 5 to 10 per cent.

“From our own experiences in the market, business activity really picked up across all sectors towards the end of 2020 and we believe this momentum will continue over the coming months, " said Greaves.

"Employers will undoubtedly be more cautious with spend on hiring and remuneration of staff than they were pre-pandemic," he added.