Bahrain Unrest Hikes Salaries By 10.5 %

Average monthly salaries for some expatriates have gone up by more than 10 per cent this year compared to 2011.

Political unrest in Bahrain has led to a sharp hike in the salaries of expatriates working there, according to the 2012 Salary Survey conducted by Gulf Business.

While the average monthly salary of Western expatriates in Bahrain increased 10.57 per cent year-on year from $10,926 to $12,081, that of Arab expatriates rose to $11,241 this year from $10,473 in 2011, an increase of 7.3 per cent.

The pay hike was less pronounced for Asian expatriates, with average monthly salaries only rising 4.88 per cent year-on-year from $8,869 to $9,302.

“Multi-national companies are less willing to send their staff into Bahrain, so they have to pay ‘hardship allowances’,” said Zaid Kamhawi, the Middle East business leader for information product services at Mercer, a consultancy company.

A Western CEO with sales of $50 million plus can now expect $27,498 per month, an 8.5 per cent rise compared to 2011.The salary of an Arab CEO with sales of $50 million plus has risen 3.2 per cent, from $27,232 per year in 2011 to $28,110 in 2012, and that of an Asian CEO with sales of $50 million has reached $25,125 compared to $23,717 a year ago, 5.9 per cent increase.

The salary hike has also been consistent across most sectors.

An Arab real estate manager can now demand $8,564 per month, almost 30 per cent more than last year; the salary of an Asian head of IT stands at $7,718 per month, up 4.96 per cent from $7,353 last year; and the pay for a Western bank branch manager has risen 6.7 per cent year-on-year to $11,101 per month.

“The unrest in the country has certainly had an impact on the market across the board in Bahrain and we are seeing more and more candidates looking to leave Bahrain for Qatar, the UAE and Saudi,” said Jennifer Campori, managing director of recruitment firm Charterhouse.

Other headhunters say they have received calls from people in Bahrain desperate to take salary drops if it means moving to more a more stable location like Dubai. One, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “We place people in hostile areas like Afghanistan and Iraq, but at least you know what you’re getting there. In Bahrain, people aren’t as sure what 2012 will bring.”

This year’s salary survey also revealed a firm bounce in pay for media, PR and publishing professionals in Bahrain. Westerners and Arabic language speakers faired particularly well. A Western public relations director gets paid 34 per cent more in 2012 than last year round, a rise from $7,800 a month to $10,460. Arab publishing editors in Bahrain are now being offered a $7,688 monthly salary compared to $5,056 12 months ago, a remarkable 52 per cent jump.

Fundamentally, Bahrain’s media industry has always been smaller than the likes of Dubai, which means publishers, ad agencies and PR firms will naturally pay more for talent. But some observers Gulf Business contacted said there was something more sinister at play behind the numbers. “Certain companies in Bahrain are looking to pay people, especially with Arabic language, to put a positive spin on what’s happening on the streets,” one said.