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Allowances and benefits have increased as companies across the GCC battle to retain talent reveals Aon Hewitt Survey
Salaries across GCC states expected to increase by 5% in 2016

Allowances and benefits have increased as companies across the GCC battle to retain talent reveals Aon Hewitt Survey

DUBAI, UAE, 30 April 2015 - Budget allocation to employee allowances and benefits continues to rise across the gulf states according to the latest GCC Allowances and Benefits Survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON). 

The largest report of its kind in the GCC, the Aon Hewitt Allowances and Benefits Survey is based on an analysis of over 90 companies across different sectors. The findings revealed that:

Children’s education allowance:

  • Children’s education assistance is currently highest in Qatar and Kuwait; this can be as high as US$15,000 per child. 
  • Children’s education assistance eligibility has increased dramatically in the GCC, with almost half of the companies across the region now providing children’s education assistance mid-level employees as well as management and this is usually capped. 
  • Approximately one third of companies across the GCC award the allowance as a cash payment, the remainder settling school fees directly.

Housing allowance:

  • Housing allowance across the GCC is highest in Qatar and ranges between US$25,000 and US$63,000; this is closely followed by the UAE which ranges between US$23,000 and US$59,000. 
  • Housing allowance is approximately 25 per cent of the basic pay across the GCC; however this is 35-40 per cent in the UAE and Qatar.
  • According to the survey, housing allowance remains stable despite rental prices increasing across the region. 


  • The most commonly provided allowances and benefits in the GCC are housing, transportation, children’s education assistance and home leave benefits. The survey found that housing and transportation is typically provided on a monthly basis as a cash payment whereas children’s education assistance and home leave benefits are usually provided at actual cost of the school fees or the cost of the ticket respectively.
  • The home leave benefit is usually provided as a ticket once per year to the country of origin covering the employee, spouse and children. Some organizations also provide the benefit as a cash payment in which case the payment is based on the average cost of the airline ticket. 
  • Across the GCC allowances are typically provided based on seniority, with the amount varying by up to 100 per cent, based on employee category.

Robert Richter, Compensation Survey Manager at Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: “Since our survey in 2014, companies have continued to rethink and their allowance and benefits allocations strategy with many increase either the eligibility or the amount. As inflation continues to rise many employers need to think about how they can attract and retain the right talent as inevitably many employees will be looking to migrate in order to cope with the cost of living. Going forward it will be interesting to see to what extent the low oil price will affect companies predictions of the GCC market and if and how this will lead to salary fluctuations."

Housing Allowance (Average Amount in US$)
Country Start Range End Range
Qatar 25,000 63,000
UAE 23,000 59,000
Saudi Arabia 19,000 52,000
Kuwait 17,000 46,000
Oman 16,000 47,000
Bahrain 13,000 44,000
Children’s Education Assistance (Average Amount in US$)
Country  Start Range End Range
Qatar 9,000 15,000
UAE 8,000 15,000
Kuwait 6,000 13,000
Bahrain 5,000 11,000
Oman 5,000 10,000
Saudi Arabia 6,000 8,000

The report also measures, furniture and relocation allowance, end of service benefits, life and accident assurance, long term disability, private medical benefits, loans, mobile phones, and annual leave entitlements. 

Salaries across GCC states expected to increase by 5% in 2016

DUBAI, UAE, 15 September 2015 - A GCC-wide survey of 600 multinational companies and locally-owned conglomerates - the largest study of its kind in the Gulf region - has forecast that salary increases will average 5% in 2016, down from an anticipated 6% in 2013, 5.5% in 2014, and 5.1% in 2015.

According to the latest GCC Salary Increase Survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, the global talent, retirement and health solutions business of Aon plc (NYSE: AON), GCC states have seen GDP levels drop due to weak global oil prices, with less foreign direct investment being recorded amidst security concerns in the region and struggles amongst large economies such as Russia and China. The situation, however, has clearly had a somewhat limited effect on firms, with most by leading employers still planning to increase the salaries of their employees by a good amount next year.   

Clearly, the impact of lower oil prices can be felt across the region, with governments cutting back on subsidies, reducing spending on larger projects and thinking about introducing some form of taxation. All these factors will have a direct or indirect effect on industry sectors, and will continue to put pressure on profit margins and operating costs for organizations. Despite this, the GCC is faring much better than other oil producing countries in the Middle East and predicted increases in compensation will also help to ease inflationary pressures on employees while markets rebound.

Among the participating GCC organizations, Kuwait-based companies gave the highest salary increase projection for 2016 at 5.2%. This is a slight decrease on 2015’s 5.3% predicted raise. Kuwait’s actual salary increase figure for 2015 stands at 4.7%.

Meanwhile, companies based in Bahrain predicted the lowest increases in the Gulf region at 4.7%, which is slightly higher than last year’s predictions of 4.5%. In 2015, Bahrain-based firms reported actual salary increases at 4.7%. 

Qatari and Omani firms, on the other hand, estimated 5.0% salary growth for 2016, lower than 2015 predictions which stood at 5.2% and 5.4% respectively. Actual salary increase figures for 2015 stand at 4.7% and 4.6% respectively. 

UAE companies, meanwhile, also projected 5.0% growth for 2016, up from the 4.8% projection made for 2015, while firms in Saudi Arabia forecasted a 5.1% figure for 2016 -- down by 0.3% on this year’s 5.4% projection. In terms of actual increases for 2015, however, the UAE stands at 4.8% while Saudi Arabia recorded the highest level of actual pay rises at 5.2% for this year.

Outlook for GCC Salaries for 2016


ProjectedSalary Increase 2015 Actual Salary Increase 2015 Projected Salary Increase 2016
Bahrain 4.50% 4.70% 4.70%
Kuwait 5.30% 4.70% 5.20%
Oman 5.40% 4.60% 5.00%
Qatar 5.20% 4.70% 5.00%
Saudi Arabia 5.40% 5.20% 5.10%
UAE 4.80% 4.80% 5.00%

Robert Richter, GCC Compensation Survey Manager, Aon Hewitt Middle East, said: “Salary increases typically take into consideration a number of other factors which go beyond the general economic climate. These include company performance, the need to reflect promotions and the need to ensure that employees at the same grade remain within a single pay band. Overall the outlook for 2016 may not be as positive as recent years, but the news that employers are predicting salary increases in the 5% range next year should come as a comfort to employees, suggesting that there is still optimism in the market.”
Aon Hewitt has been conducting a global salary increase survey on an annual basis across the globe for 29 years and launched it in the Middle East for the first time in 2012. The report is free to participating organizations and available at a price of $1000 to others. 

The survey is part of Aon Hewitt’s suite of evidence-based, research-led studies including Qudurat, Best Employers Middle East (BEME), Total Compensation Measurement (TCM™) and Top Companies for Leaders.