Why are Salary Structures in Middle East Differentiated by the Nationality?

The first thing I heard when I came to Dubai was that some organizations have multiple salary structures. I was amazed by this!

I thought that “Whoa, they are really advanced in segregating job groups or different business lines for the respective market!”

That was not the case. The segregation was according to your origin, i.e. Locals, Western Expatriates and Eastern Expatriates…

My initial thought was that it was pure discrimination and I wanted to dig deep to come up with a meaningful rationale why man should create such an aggressive differentiation. After spending some hours, I listed (almost) every major possible reasons:

  • Most of the countries in this region (especially UAE, Qatar and KSA) lack local talent.
  • They need not only skilled labor but also unskilled ones to handle productive and administrative work and the local population is unable to cover such enormous workforce requirement even if all would have worked.
  • The global mobility theories work. Hence they do not have a robust know-how, they require importing the experts from more developed markets.
  • Cost management is another reason. If you need one million of blue collar workforce and your only chance is to have foreigners work, you would go to the destinations where you can attract most people with least cost.

When you look at the reasons above, it seems fair enough to differentiate your employee groups in such a way that it might be considered in other parts of the world as “discrimination and inequality in the employment”.

Most of the multinational companies do not choose to have this practice because they are subject to audits in U.S. or Europe because of their presence in those areas and they are of course accountable for their overseas operations covering this region.

Now, clarifying the situation a little bit more the question stays the same: Is this practice fair or not?

If we would live and work in U.S.A or Europe., most probably it’s a clear violation of FLSA, EPA 75/117/EEC. With ongoing enhancements in laws and regulations in Middle East, our question would be still legally debatable and the reasons listed above will be brought up in every discussion on this topic to defend the practice.

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to have such a practice but after considering the valid reasons specific to this region I do not criticize who does.

P.S.: I’d like to have comments on this issue from people who have been involved in such a practice and discuss further.

Original post was published on Linkedin on August 12th, 2014.

5 Tips for C&B Professionals to be successful in Middle East

First of all, it’s a great pleasure to start sharing my thoughts with this great community of LinkedIn. This will be my first post after all so I count on you to bear with me.

As a C&B Specialist in Middle East and after working almost two years in this region, I wanted to summarize five bullet points to be successful here.

Communication matters. As always. The key to success in Middle East is having really strong communication skills. I’m not talking about speaking Arabic or any other language fluent; you really need to explain employees everything from scratch. In this region, employees rely on verbal communication and they believe in you if you contact them face-to-face.

Don’t count on data quality
I know that this issue depends on the organization setup, IT infrastructure, colleagues etc. but this region have issues with data integrity and quality in general. I always expect to face such a challenge but every C&B professional, who are usually into deep statistical analysis, should think twice and look more than twice which data they are playing with.

Be a tech savvy
This is a true advantage here. What I’ve seen in this region is that most of HR professionals, even in C&B, do not have advanced skills in statistical software, macros in MS Excel etc. If you are a bit tech geek and open to new technologies and tools, you may shine.

Be creative
This region is a true playground. When I talk to consultants, they love to work here because there’s a lot to do. The amazing thing is; the diversity, increasing volume of the business and lack of solid HR practices in the past allows you to be as creative as you can. Come up with “crazy” ideas, I bet somebody can listen to it!

Anticipate unexpected occasions
Anything can happen in one night. You can wake up tomorrow to a situation where your office in one country is bombed, a hyperinflation hits another country’s currency etc… So, expect surprises and be always ready to react quickly. It is stressful but will develop you a lot. Look at the bright side!

If you’re new to this region or consider working here as a C&B professional, I hope these five quick tips help you to imagine what’s expected from you.

Original post was published on Linkedin on August 6th, 2014.