A 2012 survey conducted by Gulf Business shows CEO's from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) top the money list with an average annual salary of 1.550 million Emirati dirhams ($422,280; $35,190 p/m).
The Gulf Business survey ranked the GCC CEO's as follows; Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and finally Bahrain and is based on CEO's who are responsible for sales of more than $50 million. The survey highlighted the additional 'lifestyle premium' as it is known in the recruitment industry, for executives in KSA where the pack packets are supplemented with housing, travel and allowances that inflate the salary giving it the number one slot.
CEOs in Qatar earn Dhs1.467m per annum ($399,648; $33,304 p/m) coming in second in the Gulf Business survey. Arabic CEOs employed over the past year are commanding a 10% premium in their salaries compared with Western Expatriates due to the demand for Arabic speaking executives, particularly in infrastructure based industries.
CEOs who are residents in the United Arab Emirates fare slightly worse, although still in the million-dirham bracket, at Dhs1,386,782 per annum ($377,664; $31,472 p/m). Following on from the Dubai downturn, Gulf Business reports that "companies in the Emirates have been struggling to calibrate their workforce and [as such] remuneration has varied widely."
This is evident for CEOs who have remained in their positions throughout this turbulent period, still commanding pre-recession salaries. Gulf Business further reported, "It is now agreed in the recruitment industry that Dubai is exiting an 18-month corporate consolidation phase, which has resulted in a more balanced supply and demand in the field."
Kuwait's situation is in contrast to the top three countries for CEO earnings, where the churn* rate in the market is surprisingly low. CEO's salaries are still healthy at Dhs1.333m per annum ($363,120), although without an active executive recruitment market, pay rises will be minimal in the current climate.
Oman's GDP growth is forecast to be higher than that of many developed and emerging economies, which is good news for Oman's executive wages. With annual salaries still over the 1 million-dirham mark at Dhs1.222m ($344,952; 28,746p/m) the Gulf state is considered to be the one to watch with reference to potential growth in the c-level executive recruitment market.
With the unrest and negative sentiment remaining in Bahrain, CEOs salaries have seen an increase (as can be seen in many industries requiring an expatriate workforce), although salaries remain at the bottom of the GCC market.
The recruitment industry are finding it hard to place people into Bahrain due to the perception of the political climate in the country, although this may have a positive effect on future salaries and as companies work to retain the necessary skills for growth.
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