By Satish Kanady
DOHA: With neighbouring Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Oman all set to launch huge development projects simultaneously, industry leaders in Qatar are wary of a possible pressure on Qatar’s labour market.
They believe Qatar’s market dynamics will undergo a major shift as the country would be forced to compete with the neighbouring states, particularly the UAE, which arguably offers the region’s best pay package to skilled and semi-skilled workers.
In the run-up to Fifa 2022, Qatar is expected to generate nearly 300,000 jobs in the short to mid-term. Dubai’s World Expo 2020 bid win is expected to generate an equal number of job opportunities in the next three to four years. Sitting on projects worth an estimated $933bn, according to Global Investment House analysts, Saudi Arabia is also looking for a huge talent pool. With Asia being the traditional manpower source for all the three countries, getting the right people at the right time will be a challenge for Qatar.
A wide range of market leaders The Peninsula spoke to yesterday confirmed that Qatar’s labour market had started to feel the pinch. “Manpower suppliers in India and Nepal are demanding a 20 to 30 percent hike in the salaries of semi-skilled workers,” the HR head of a manpower company who is currently in Nepal for a head hunt, told The Peninsula from Kathmandu over the phone yesterday.
Dubai is expected to spend around $9bn on its growth plans for the World Expo, and the UAE as a whole is projected to spend $329bn on major construction projects by 2030. Big construction projects, which cost over $1bn, are due to peak in the UAE by 2016, and projects worth $40bn are due for delivery in 2016.
Diego Bertati, Service and Field Manager — Gulf Area, CIFA, yesterday said Saudi Arabia was set to launch a large number of mega projects. “For the UAE, after the boom in 2007-2008, we should see a stable market for the coming years, especially with the upcoming Expo 2020 in Dubai. Oman is also a very interesting market for construction.”
Qatar might witness an exodus of professionals from the logistics and technology sectors to Dubai if the companies fail to offer a package matching those in the neighbouring countries.
The hiring rates in the logistic sector, an emerging sector in Qatar for which there is high demand in the UAE, is very competitive, according to market insiders.
“Professionals in this sector are getting offers for almost double what they are getting now. With better offers from Dubai, many people are waiting for the expiry of their contract period. Others have either started negotiating better package or made up their mind to relocate,” said the hiring manager of a leading logistic company.
In contrast, noted the executive of a technology solution providing company: “Dubai is attractive but only on short term. In the long term, the Qatari economy is more solid. It has got long-term potential,” said Foad Fanaei, Managing Partner, Reign Engineering & Trading Co.
The HR head of a leading oil and gas contracting company confirmed the salaries of semi-skilled and skilled workers in the industry had gone up by 20 percent in Qatar. “With the economy recovering, the asking salary of oil and gas employees has gone up globally. We are struggling to get the right people on existing package. As major oil producers like Saudi and Kuwait are witnessing renewed activities, we are compelled to raise the bar,” the source said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak on behalf of his company.