Qatar job nationalisation drive likely to be stalled

September 13, 2011

Qatar might find it hard to press ahead with its much-talked-about job nationalisation drive in the private sector after the huge salary hike announced last week for state jobs, observers of the local employment market have said.

Qataris generally abhor taking up private jobs due to relatively low pay packages, lack of incentives that include social security and post-retirement benefits and interest-free long-term housing loans.

Additionally, working hours in the private sector are longer and employees are exposed to a competitive work environment where they need to prove their merit continuously, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported.

At the other end of the spectrum, state jobs are considered cushy and socially prestigious by employment-seekers in the Qatari community.

According to the observers, the substantial pay hike announced for state staffers is most likely to impact severely the Qatarisation drive in the private sector.

“First of all, the state’s pay hike move is unfair for all private sector employees, whether nationals or expatriates, because their remunerations remain quite low,” a former board member of the Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry (QCCI), the representative body of the private sector, told the daily.

“Secondly, the move is sure to put ‘serious obstacles’ to the government’s efforts to push more and more citizens into private jobs.”

Qatar’s National Development Strategy (2011-16), part of Qatar National Vision 2030, envisages raising the ratio of nationals in private jobs to 15 per cent from the present five.

Private sector jobs

But job market sources say that if one excludes banking and financial services institutions as well as listed companies that employ a fairly large percentage of locals, the ratio of citizens in private sector jobs would not be more than one per cent.

“The aim of the National Vision 2030 is to eventually turn the country’s economy which is largely reliant on the finite hydrocarbon resources, into a diversified knowledge-based economy,” the daily reported.

“This is possible only if the country moves fast towards a high-productivity labour force with higher participation by the locals. So productivity will be a critical driver in this process.”

Some 11 per cent unskilled

Although unemployment rate in the Qatari community is quite low, official data show that while the government and mixed sectors employ some 11 per cent unskilled and three per cent semi-skilled nationals, the percentage of these categories of Qatari workers in the private sector is nil.

Most Qatari private sector employees (75 per cent) are highly skilled.

“This means that to be able to get a respectable private sector job a Qatari must not only be highly educated, experienced and competitive but must also be willing to worker harder,” job market sources said.

“But since government jobs do not usually demand very high academic qualifications and simultaneously offer better salaries and perks, this would lead to an unwanted mismatch and trigger frustration among Qatari private sector employees.”

Middle management

However, a senior official from the Ministry of Labour said that middle-management jobs in the private sector offer more salaries and perks than the public sector.

“I am a manager-level employee and my monthly pay packet is QR45,000 whereas a bank manager gets QR65,000. In addition, he has access to free medical insurance for him and family and gets huge allowance for his children’s education,” the official said.

Experts say that one effective way to encourage citizens to take up private jobs is to introduce social security and post-retirement benefit schemes as well as provide easy access to interest-free housing loans.

“Locals do not prefer private jobs mainly because of the lack of these facilities,” the source said.

However, the labour ministry official hinted that pension and housing loan schemes would soon be made compulsory in respect of Qatari workers of the private sector.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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