Archive for September, 2011

My thoughts on the salary increases for (some) Qataris

Now that the frenzy has ended, I’ve been asked by quite a few people to share my thoughts on the recent salary increases. I’ll start this off by answering some of the most common questions I got.

Mr. Q! You’re rich now! When are you getting that Ferrari?
First of all no I’m not. Second of all, it’s a Porsche -_- On a serious note NOT all Qataris got the salary increase!

 

So who does the salary increase apply to?
It’s not really black and white. It was initially given to government employees. That meant that those in the private sector weren’t part of the salary increase. However since the annoucement, a lot of companies in the private sector have followed suit. 1) It does make them look good to follow an Emiri Decree and 2) Some didn’t really have a choice (mostly the larger private entities).

Ok tell us, how much did Qataris in the government get?
For state civilian employees they got a 60% increase on their basic salary and social allowance
For Military  personnel it’s a 50% increase on their basic and social allowance
For  Military personnel of an officer rank, they get a 120% increase on their basic and social allowance.

Nice huh? Makes you want to think about joining the army.

No seriously, how much did Qataris REALLY get?
It’s no joke. Don’t believe me? Check out Emiri decision No. 50 of 2011.

So that’s over DOUBLE their salary!
Wrong! It’s 60% of BASIC and SOCIAL. Let’s say your salary is 10k. Your basic is 4k. Your social is 1k. Your remainder salary is made up of housing, transportation, etc… In this case you get 60% of 5k. That’s 3k or a 30% pay increase overall. Of course this is just an example

Anything else you want to mention?
It’s not just salaries. Government employees also get their pensions to go up by 60% and Military by 50% or 120% depending on their rank.

Why did they do this… It doesn’t make sense!
A lot of things don’t make sense in this world, but there’s actually a good reason for all of this!  First of all, lets start from the beginning. Government employees actually had their salaries ‘balanced’ two years ago to comply with their new grading scheme. For some people it was great, for others… it made life really tough. If you were a junior staff at 15k, you could have been dropped to as low as 7k per month. That’s a 50% decrease. Some people’s salaries went up though but only by a small margin. So if you look at the 60% pay increase, they’re probably back to where they were. Of course I’m talking about the people who were affected negatively. To be honest, many people especially in the Military were known to have received extremely low salaries and they definitely did deserve more.

How much is this going to cost the government then?
A cool 10 billion riyals a year (that doesn’t include the extra 10 billion given to the pensions fund and 10 billion to the retirees’ subscriptions.

How do you feel about this Mr. Q?
You want to know? Well I’ve got mixed emotions to be honest.

Now here are my thoughts from a number of different angles…

As a citizen, it’s great to know that the government is there to take care of it’s people. It’s nice to feel that my country care about government officials so much. I do think that it would have been great to have spent 10billion riyals on training government workers so that they could work much more effectively though (just thinking about my own experience with simple processes here). The cost of living has definitely increased significantly in the passed few years. Building a house is near impossible and a decent price anymore.

However as someone who works in the private sector,I’m left thinking, “What about me?”. I studied hard. I went to university to get my degree. I came back and worked in the private sector. I proved that I was a hard worker, dedicated, and was set to prove that Qataris are ready to make a difference in the world. So why aren’t I being rewarded as well? In fact, are we giving the wrong message to the new generation? Come and get a cushy government job. Aren’t we trying to build a knowledge based economy? One that will encourage start ups, Qatari entrepreneurs, and see a growth in SMEs? Why would a youngster create his own businesses now when he can get a great salary working in a government job? Despite all of that, I’m still left thinking “what about me?”.

As someone who cares about the economy, a couple of days after the announcement, shops didn’t waste their time. I received BBM notifications constantly about the different shops that raised their prices. The government had already threatened companies with fines if they raised their prices and also set up a hotline for people to report it, but that didn’t stop many. Car washes raised their prices, restaurants raised their prices, cold stores raised their prices, everybody was doing it! Some people said, “It’s only a couple of riyals”, no it’s not! It all ads up! This my dear friends is what causes INFLATION. Many Qataris started to complain about this; online forums, BBM, and the newspapers published article after article of examples in price rises. Well if the people who got the pay rise are complaining, what about the Qataris or the exapts that didn’t get the pay rise?

What I don’t understand is why didn’t the just give government employees a pay rise quietly? Alright it might have been difficult to contain that one, but what about Kuwait’s solution? They got rid of Kuwaiti’s debts (up to a certain amount). I’m pretty sure that would have helped out more, and would have been fairer on all of us.

From the point of view of a private business owner, there are LOADS of problems here; Qatarization was hard enough! Now companies have to compete with the government too! I don’t really want to think about this one…. Let’s start with listed companies, they have a duty and a responsibility to share-holders. If a private company increases Qataris salaries, that dips into the shareholders pockets. It would be fair to say that it would be in the companies best interest NOT to hire Qataris to reduce cost (that can’t happen though since Qatarization is not an option). I’ll give you a really simple example. You own a business that sells Land Cruisers (had to slip that one in. Heh.). Everything’s going well, but now you have to cut into your own profits to increase your employees salaries. They’re not really doing any more work than they signed up for. Inflation is only up by 10% but you have to give them 60% increase. Now the funny thing is, you understand where I’m going with here, but I’ll bet you still want to be that person with the 60% pay increase. Am I right? Don’t worry, it’s human nature.

Point of view of the expat, “That’s not fair, what about us? We work harder than Qataris! We deserve more too!”, the people scream on one particular forum that shall not be named. You know what I say to them? Don’t like it? Tough! I’m sorry but it really gets my blood boiling. I feel like Qatar is the only country in the world where some expats (Most of the ones I personally know are awesome btw!) discriminate against the locals! They come to Qatar, live quite a comfortable life, more comfortable than back where they live, their governments probably tax the hell out of them, and then they complain that they deserve more. Think about this logically, wherever you are from and imagine that a foreigner comes to your country and feels entitled to more; not the same (I believe in equality), but more than the locals…

I’m sorry but shouldn’t you be demanding more from your own country? Looks to me that we’re in a new age where the new saying is “Ask not what you can do for your country but what your country can do for you.” and not the other way around.

 

So what should those who got the pay rise do now? Splurge? Obviously not. The best thing would be for them to invest their new income in something that will give them a safe future. I don’t know put it in a savings account, invest in stocks, start your own little business, SOMETHING, that doesn’t encourage un-necessary inflation please!

 

I’ll end this quick piece with with what one of my favourite users on ILQ said (TimeBandit), and I think it sums it all up nicely.

“Hey I don’t pay tax, so I don’t care what the government does with its money. I just want a job, on commission, working for a car dealership ASAP.”

 

You might also be interested in:

Qatars are all rich – the myth

I envy Bahrainis

Lagoona Mall is now open – Here’s some pics

Passed by lagoona mall and it’s now open. A few shops are open so far but I thought you’d like to see what it looks like.

Click here for pics

We’re finalists for ‘Best Digital Creative Campaign’ !

I’m so honored! Vodafone and iLoveQatar.net teamed up this year again to put together www.ramadan-kareem.net . (If you don’t know what it’s about click here). We worked really hard to make sure that we took what we did last year and take it to the next level. This is the 4th time we’ve done this now and the 2nd time we’ve teamed up with Vodafone. Special thanks to Jonathan Donovan for putting in so much hard work to make this happen.

Anyway! So the award is for Best Digital Creative Campaign in the Middle East! You can view all the people short listed as finalists for the different awards here http://www.terrapinn.com/2011/the-internet-show-awards-middle-east/awards.stm

*Smile*

ILQ gets support from Katara

I’m really quite honored by the fact that Katara believe in ILQ’s vision. After sitting down with the President of Katara, Bassam and I explained that we needed so much more support than we currently have to be able to raise funds in order to redesign the website, create new functionality, support the community, AND help encourage the community to create their own original content. ILQ is backed by a fantastic community that volunteer for our events and donate their time to help us grow but now it’s time to rely on bigger organizations to take us to the next level.

Our current offices are on Salwa Road (second floor of King Koil) and we’re now moving into Katara! It feels right! Katara not only aims to be an international cultural hotspot, but it’s here to turn Qatar into a vibrant country with great events. I’ll keep you all posted once we finish off the office.

OH! If anyone knows a company that’s reasonable priced and can help us decorate our offices let me know! Not looking for anything extravagant, we just want the offices to look modern and well spaced.

All the stuff ILQ is sponsoring these coming months!

Hey there everyone, I thought I’d take the time to go ahead and update you all on what I’ve got iLoveQatar sponsoring these next few months. For those that don’t know, ILQ spends profit made off of any advert banners you see on charitable causes and to support the local community. The goal at the end of the day is simple, to make Qatar a better place! Somewhere that everyone can be proud of :)

Filipino Movie for Tribeca Film Festival

A bunch of guys from the Filipino community put together a great Filipino film as a submission for the Tribeca Film Festival. When they got into a bit of a jam and needed some support, ILQ jumped in to help them finish the project. This is Qatar’s first Filipino movie and we’re proud to have supported Global Pinoys and to be a part of another great first :)

It’s called “I Love You Maam”, a story about a girl who fell in love with her teacher back in college. Two years later they meet up again, in Doha… In the same school… Both as teachers… That’s when things get complicated. My favourite scene is when they’re surfing ILQ :P

Trailer - http://iloveyoumaam.com/

 

Ministry of Sound World Tour

Global DJ’s contacted ILQ to help support their latest event. This time the Ministry of Sound decided that they’re stopping by Doha as part of their World Tour on the 29th of September at the Intercon Beach. I don’t really like simply sponsoring a project with funding. I think that it’s a bit… cold, so I prefer helping to ‘activate’ an event. We help get the word out, provide some gifts, fun giveaways, I(Heart)Qatar shirts and stickers, take photos, and of course no party would be complete without some ILQ beachballs thrown into the crowd. I’ll be giving away some FREE tickets! So stay tuned! More information here.

 

QSports

Now these guys are doing something that I’ve been waiting for, for ages. Not only is QSports supported by the Qatar Olympic Committee but they’re now supported by ILQ as well. We’ll be sponsoring teams who can’t afford basic entry fees or uniforms on a case by case basis :) Interested? Registrations is FREE. So what do they do? They organize sports tournaments that you can register to be a part of. Want to play football and don’t know where to go or even have enough players for example? QSports solves that!

They’re still looking for more sponsors in case you work for a company that might be interested! Visit qsportsleagues.com for more information or to sign up!

They’ll also be posting their latest events and sports related news in the Sports sections of our forums :)

 

Evo Sports Academy’s Super Sports Day

This one’s thanks to Bassam. Evo Sports Academy decided that they wanted to get people active in Qatar. They went to Bassam with a mission; they wanted to help youngsters in Qatar pick a sport they’re good at, perhaps one that they never thought of trying before. Bassam gave the Evo Sports team an excited grin and we were in. Imagine! Helping people live a more active and healthy life-style! Oh and did we mention that it’s free? Yep! 6-16 year olds can enjoy football, basketball, netball, dance, and karate! Just come on down to the Doha Rugby Club on Saturday September 17th from 9am to 2pm. There’ll be coaching sessions, live DJ, BBQ, giveaways, competitions, and a bouncy castle too! Oh and if you go on down, you can probably get a free sports shirts with the ILQ logo on it too! Visit www.evosportsqatar.com for more.

 

Qatar Investors Window

The team over at UCI International contacted us and let us know that they were organizing a partnership with the Qatari Businessmen Association. Their focus is to showcase investment opportunities Qatar has to offer, bringing potential investors to the region to share knowledge and discuss valuable business opportunities. Since winning the 2022 World Cup, there’s definately going to be a lot of people that get attracted to Qatar. It’s exciting to think about all of the change that’s going to happen in the coming years. We’re their supporting partners and as such I think I should it would be best to give you the more information don’t you think? It’s on the 21st of November at the Grand Hyatt and one their keynote speaker is James Caan, the CEO of Hamilton Bradshaw and one of the Dragons from BBC’s Dragons’ Den. Did you know that Peter Jones from the Dragons’ Den is also a partner of mine? More information at www.uciinternational.com

 

Humanisation of Cities of Tomorrow

We partnered up with Naseba many times in the past. We think we make a good team actually. Last year, ILQ also supported this event and we got a standing ovation since Bassam was a speaker. So what’s it all about? Well on October 4th and 5th, global city leaders, ministries and influential people will get together and share their insights and thoughts as to how we can all work together to build a better future. There’ll be different pavilions under different themes “Knowledge”, “Urban”, “Power”, “Well-being”, “Hospitality”, “Green” and “Infrastructure. I’m very excited about the summit and hope that some great change will come out of this. One of the things that Bassam and I often talk about is encouraging future businesses to focus on partnership models and coopetition. More info at www.cityhumanisation.com

 

 

Green Programme for Schools

I’m going to start to start this off by saying… I’m disappointed… This is a fantastic cause. The goal of GPS is to educate children in schools as to the importance of taking care of the environment. Sounds like a great cause right? Well why haven’t many people ‘liked’ their facebook page then? Look, it takes two seconds and it shows them that you care! Go on visit http://www.facebook.com/GPSQatar I’ll wait…. I’m waiting….. Done? Hope so!

 

Inshallah partnering and sponsoring these different events makes Qatar a better place. What do you guys think? Good job?

It’s twitter time! Three ILQ channels.

Sometimes it gets difficult following all these different sites. So to make life simpler for you Twitter users, all you need to do is follow one of these three twitter accounts that have been specially set up!

Looking for straight up ILQ stuff and some of my own tweets? Follow @iloveqatar

Looking for Qatar related news? Follow @qatarnews

Looking for the latest events in Qatar? Follow @qatarevents

 

How to encourage Start Ups and SMEs

Qatar Today, one of Qatar’s most widely circulated magazines, asked Bassam and I to do an interview with them and to pick our brains about why we think it’s so difficult for Start Ups and SMEs. Of course we don’t have the exact answers to those questions, but we definitely shared our own experiences.

Click here to read the article on ISSUU

But what about you guys out there? What are the difficulties you’re facing? Things have definitely got to change if Qatar wants to be a business friendly hub.

Freedom of Expression

    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which the Qatari Government is a signatory of states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any medias and regardless of any frontiers.

    The Emiri Decision Number 86 of the year 2007 on the establishment of the Doha Free Information Centre marked yet another step towards establishing a State of rights and freedom of speech. The decision stipulated that the Centre be a non-profit organization, headquartered in Doha City, and have the authority to establish other affiliated centres inside and outside Qatar. It is worth mentioning that His Highness the Emir issued a decision in 1998 annulling the ministry of information, giving birth to a new era of freedom of speech where censorship was removed from local media.