Comparing Salaries

When applying for a role in a tax-free country like Qatar (or any of the Gulf countries), my experience is that many people find it challenging to compare their taxable pay-rate at home with that they are likely to receive overseas. To try to assist with this I have compiled the following information.
By way of background; candidates for roles in Qatar should realise that, although the country is still rapidly developing, it already offers most of the facilities, conveniences and lifestyles that one might expect in any first-world nation. There is no shortage of skilled professionals wanting to come to Qatar and hence the massive premiums once paid to attract people to “hardship postings” are no longer available.
In addition to this, my experience is that companies in Qatar like to work toward building long-term skilled resource teams inside the country by attracting and retaining people for lengthy terms. Hence it is very rare to find the short-term or “day rate” contracts that are often available for 3 to 6 month assignments in the UK. To this end salaries tend not to factor in the risks or overheads associated with such roles and tend to me more competitive when benchmarked against full-time salaries elsewhere.
In my, admittedly limited, experience salaries for skilled personnel are packaged differently in every country. Hence when making a comparison between what you might have been offered in Qatar and what you are earning elsewhere you must take into account some of the following:
  • Taxes – in the UK these will be in the region of 25% to 30% hence you must take 25% to 30% of your salary to be able to compare to a salary in Qatar. In Qatar you will not pay any tax. What you are paid is what you take home.
  • Annual Leave Holidays – In the UK employees might be paid for anywhere from 20 to 45 annual-leave days per year. In Qatar you are often not paid for holidays so you will need to compensate for this.
  • Public Holidays – In the UK there are about 7 or 8 paid public holidays per year. Qatar has a similar number.
  • Sick leave – In the UK employers usually pay for sick leave. In Qatar this is entirely at the discretion of the employer
  • Working hours – In the UK there are strict rules on working hours and how many an employer can make you work. In Qatar you need to ensure that your working hours are specified in your contract.
  • Health insurance – UK citizens are covered by their National Health Service for healthcare. In Qatar you need to ensure that your employer covers you and your family for heal;th insurance, or else pay for it, or your care, yourself.
  • Accommodation – Accommodation in Qatar tends to be of a higher standard with more facilities than most people might expect in the UK. However this comes at a cost, typically sgood accommodation here is no more expensive than London, but defintely more expensive than other parts of the UK, hence you need to ensure that you understand accommodation costs and have adequately budgeted for these.
  • Travel – most people working overseas will want to travel home at least annually to visit family. Make sure you have allowed for this in your negotiations with your employer.
I have compiled the following table, taking into account known overheads and costs to enable prospective UK employees to compare the salary they may be offered in Qatar:
NHS Band (top of scale) Annual Pretax Salary Annual “take-home” salary Daily rate Value of 30 days annual leave Value of 14 paid sick days Rate if only paid for days worked Equivalent day rate in Qatari Riyal
1 £14,864 £12,639 £48 £1,453 £678 £59 342
2 £17,253 £14,264 £55 £1,640 £765 £66 386
3 £19,077 £15,504 £59 £1,782 £832 £72 419
4 £21,798 £17,355 £66 £1,995 £931 £81 469
5 £27,625 £21,317 £82 £2,450 £1,143 £99 577
6 £34,189 £25,781 £99 £2,963 £1,383 £120 697
7 £40,157 £29,851 £114 £3,431 £1,601 £139 807
8a £46,621 £34,063 £131 £3,915 £1,827 £159 921
8b £55,945 £39,471 £151 £4,537 £2,117 £184 1,068
8c £67,134 £45,961 £176 £5,283 £2,465 £214 1,243
8d £80,810 £53,893 £206 £6,195 £2,891 £251 1,458
9 £97,478 £63,560 £244 £7,306 £3,409 £296 1,719
I have prepared similar tables for the US and Australia based on the differning tax rates, sickness and annual leave in those countries (below):
US Annual   Pretax Salary US Annual “take-home” salary US Daily rate Value of 15 days annual leave Value of 7 paid sick days Rate if only paid for days worked Equivalent day rate in Qatari   Riyal
$20,000 $18,188 $72 $1,087 $507 $79 287
$25,000 $22,290 $89 $1,332 $622 $97 351
$30,000 $26,181 $104 $1,565 $730 $113 413
$40,000 $33,869 $135 $2,024 $945 $147 534
$50,000 $41,557 $166 $2,483 $1,159 $180 655
$60,000 $48,463 $193 $2,896 $1,352 $210 764
$70,000 $55,120 $220 $3,294 $1,537 $239 869
$80,000 $61,777 $246 $3,692 $1,723 $268 974
$90,000 $68,434 $273 $4,090 $1,909 $297 1,079
$100,000 $75,091 $299 $4,488 $2,094 $325 1,184
$120,000 $88,253 $352 $5,274 $2,461 $382 1,391
$140,000 $102,188 $407 $6,107 $2,850 $443 1,611
Australia Annual Pretax Salary Australia Annual “take-home”   salary Australia Daily rate Value of 20 days annual leave Value of 10 paid sick days Rate if only paid for days worked Equivalent day rate in Qatari   Riyal
$20,000 $20,000 $80 $1,594 $797 $89 338
$25,000 $23,778 $95 $1,895 $947 $106 401
$30,000 $27,753 $111 $2,211 $1,106 $124 468
$40,000 $35,253 $140 $2,809 $1,405 $157 595
$50,000 $41,703 $166 $3,323 $1,661 $186 704
$60,000 $48,153 $192 $3,837 $1,918 $215 813
$70,000 $54,653 $218 $4,355 $2,177 $244 923
$80,000 $61,253 $244 $4,881 $2,440 $273 1,034
$90,000 $67,403 $269 $5,371 $2,685 $301 1,138
$100,000 $73,553 $293 $5,861 $2,930 $328 1,242
$120,000 $85,853 $342 $6,841 $3,420 $383 1,449
$140,000 $98,153 $391 $7,821 $3,910 $438 1,657
If you are a day-rate contractor in the UK and wish to get a fair comparison of rates. The following table might help, I have not been able to do the calculations for Australia and US:
Contractor   day-rate Estimated day-rate after taxes   (30%) Estimated day rate after risk and   overhead are removed (20%) Daily rate in Qatari Riyal (Using   GBP1:5.81)
£250 £175 £140 QAR 813
£300 £210 £168 QAR 976
£350 £245 £196 QAR 1,139
£500 £350 £280 QAR 1,627
£550 £385 £308 QAR 1,789
£600 £420 £336 QAR 1,952
£650 £455 £364 QAR 2,115
£700 £490 £392 QAR 2,278
£750 £525 £420 QAR 2,440
£800 £560 £448 QAR 2,603
£850 £595 £476 QAR 2,766
£900 £630 £504 QAR 2,928
Some other costs that might help you in your calculations:
Cost Per Month (QAR) Daily cost (based on 252 days per year)
Typical   “Western-style” 2 bedroom flat 8,000 382
Typical “Western-style” 3 bedroom house 13,000 622
Health Insurance per person 417 20
Annual travel cost per person   to UK (return) 496 24
…and finally… any decision you make must take into account what is right for you and what you ware looking for in terms of lifestyle, risk and personal satisfaction. Something you might like to think about:
1) If you are a day-rate contractor your appetite for risk and possible additional reward Vs your confidence of a steady income stream for the next few years
2) The value you place on experiencing a different lifestyle in a different culture
3) The value placed on a relatively relaxed lifestyle in Qatar Vs a busy and potentially stressful one in the UK
4) Appetite for travel and holidays. We tend to have a lot of public holidays (two Eid’s, National Day and National Sports Day) – up to 12 days and the two Eid’s were a week long each last year so meant two 9 day breaks – not always the case – and people travel in this time as well as taking time out during the year to get away.


  1. E Simpson · · Reply

    Interesting article. I think however that the following factors also need to be factored into any discussions before agreeing to accept an offer to work in Qatar:

    1. Education. This can range between QR 30,000 – 50,000 per child in primary school, considerably more in secondary school. Also do not expect an instant place, waiting lists can be 12 months or more.
    2. Housing costs given above are conservative and represent housing outside the centre of Doha (capital of Qatar). You will require transport, if hiring expect to pay QR 2,000 – 4000 a month depending on your requirements.
    3. Salary. Any move from your current position, regardless of country, should be considered a career progression. With this I would expect a salary increase so comparing with your existing salary would not be my starting point.
    4. Other considerations. In addition to above and all the other factors previously stated most people will leave some commitments back home. You may still have a house, family commitments and other financial responsibilities to take into account.

    Overall, think about your financial goals, write them down and work out what is an acceptable rate for you. Do some research, check out and ask questions on local Qatar forums. Be prepared to negotiate as I do not believe that there is yet a “standard rate” for a position in Qatar.

    1. Thanks for this. Another important point that occured to me is that, if you work for a government agency in Qatar any professional development you wish to undertake will be at your own cost. The assumption being that you are at the top of your field already and if you fall behind you can be readily replaced.

  2. Another point of view · · Reply

    You should also look carefully at your contract.

    If you are paid a “day-rate” you may not be covered by employment law in Qatar which stipulates that all employees must receive a minimum 3 weeks per annum of paid leave, paid sick leave, and an end-of-service allowance equal to a minimum of 3 weeks pay for each year of service. There are other base-level considerations under employment law in Qatar which as a day-rate-contractor you may not be entitled to if they are not clearly stated in your contract.

    A day-rate contract may be perfectly legal and acceptable to you but you should realise what you are giving up by accepting it.

    For this reason I would, were I to reconsider a contract in Qatar, specify that my contract must comply, as a minimum, with the terms and conditions of the Qatar Labor Law of 2004 and any subsequent amendments or later laws. This should be written in clear, unambiguous English and must be reflected in your employment contract in Arabic – by the way your contract in Arabic is the one that counts in court.

    Don’t be misled by verbal promises that you will be treated “just like an employee” that your contract will roll automatically over at the end of term or anything else of this nature that indicates that you will be treated as an “employee” as you might expect elsewhere. Once a day-rate contractor you will always be a day-rate contractor.

    Also be aware that trying to lodge a complaint or pursue an action against an employer in Qatar will be almost impossible if you do not speak, read and write fluent Arabic.

    A couple of other points regarding E Simpson’s comments:

    1) Any three bedroom villa that costs 14K per month is likely to be pretty nice! It may not be in West Bay or The Pearl but unless your home now is in Kensington, or Richmond most people would be happy.
    2) Don’t be sucked in by school “waiting lists” many schools will take a booking fee to add you to a waiting list but there is no actual list!!!!

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