12 February 2008

Two-thirds of Gulf staff looking to quit job

Gulf businesses face a tough year ahead trying to retain staff, with more than two-thirds of employees indicating they are more likely to leave their job this year than in 2007, the ArabianBusiness.com Salary Survey has revealed.

Data from the first annual survey shows a sharp decline in job loyalty across the GCC, led by Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Almost three-quarters of employees in Oman said that were more likely to quit their job this year, with only 11% saying they were more likely see the year out in their present position.

In Saudi Arabia 69% of employees said they were looking for another job, while in the UAE the figure stood at 68%.

Bahrain registered the highest level of company loyalty, but over half of employees still said they planned to look for other work this year, compared to just 20% that said they were more likely to stay put.

The attractiveness of the GCC for expatriate workers has taken a hammering over the last 24 months due to the rising cost of living and weakening of Gulf currencies linked to the tumbling US dollar.

Inflation surged to record highs across the Gulf last year, hitting 14% in Qatar, 7.6% in Oman, 6.2% in Kuwait, 6% in Saudi and 4.9% in Bahrain.

Inflation hit a 19-year high of 9.3% in the UAE in 2006, the last official figure. Some analysts have predicted inflation in the Emirates could surge to 12% this year due to soaring real estate prices and the weakening dollar.

The dollar hit record lows against major global currencies last year, dropping almost 12% against the euro and the Indian rupee, and 2.8% against the British pound.

According to the salary survey, workers from India and Pakistan were particularly dissatisfied with their current employment, with 69% saying they were more likely to quit their jobs this year.

Only 16% of Indian and 13% of Pakistani workers said they were less likely to switch jobs.

The most dissatisfied nationals in the UAE however were South Africans, 71% of whom indicated they were more likely to change companies in the coming year, while in Saudi Arabia expatriates from the UK topped the table as the most likely group to seek a new job in 2008.

Less than 10% of UK workers in Saudi said they were less likely to transfer companies this year.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.