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Qatar: new bonus-reward system for civil servants 11, January 2011

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Qatar.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

In an interesting move, the Qatari government has detailed its Ministries to come up with a way to evaluate its employees performance, which will then be used to determine their annual bonus.

The new standards focus on the ability of the employee to make plans as well as his or her seriousness about work, enthusiasm, good behaviour, creativity and innovation…They also assess the employee’s performance timing as well as rapports with seniors, subordinates and other colleagues


Under the new rules, a negative evaluation or poor performance carries a delay or a cancellation of the annual allowance for the year…The bonus is one to six percent of the salary and is decided on the basis of performance.

This type of system is clearly aimed to tackle the woeful performance of many/some civil servants which is a running joke in the Gulf. Anecdotal stories abound about the absurdities that occur in the Gulf public sector: friends who literally turn up to work to download movies then go home (I heard this in Kuwait); others who work 10 hours per week (Kuwait and Qatar); some that go for 4 hour coffee breaks (Qatar); or those who do not turn up at all but still receive a salary (Qatar & UAE): speak to anyone in the Gulf on this topic and you’re guaranteed to have a raft of your own silly stories.

This move, therefore, needs to be applauded. Everyone knows that there is a real problem here and this is a constructive way to try to tackle it. There are, however, a couple of sticking points.

– Wasta is king: those with lots of it can surely still get away with doing nothing whatsoever.

– Does anyone seriously think that many managers will be rating their workers’ performances as unsatisfactory, practically guaranteeing a haranguing by a (perhaps literally) truck-load of relatives? Don’t forget that Qatar is an immensely small country: ‘everyone knows everyone’.

– Will the Ministries publish statistics with a Qatari-/non-Qatari break-down?

One must not forget that many jobs are acquired through family connections. Illegal in the West, nepotism is seen as a duty in the Gulf: if you’ve got the opportunity to get your brother or friend a job, you ought to. Therefore, is an uncle really going to give a poor rating to his cousin?

Incidentally, if anyone has any kind of statistics on nepotism in the Gulf (how anyone could magic up such stats I don’t know) then do pass them my way…Cheers!


1. Troy Wearer - 12, January 2011

Hmmm. I ran a prestigious division, in a prestigious company, in Doha for some years. The nature of both gave me a high number of nationals, including the sons of the major shareholder & the chairman. Both met me privately and instructed me (no other word really) to work their sons hard. Neither they nor their colleagues did, so I gave each poor reviews – “fails to meet expectations” in HR parlance. I was summoned to the CEO’s office, abused for an hour and then told to “change my expectations”. What chance do they have if frank feedback can’t be given?

2. Troy Wearer - 12, January 2011

Not to mention the staff on my payroll in Qatar, UAE (Dubai) & Kuwait, all with senior names, who I paid monthly, but never actually met…

thegulfblog.com - 12, January 2011

Thanks for your thoughts. A familiar tale. Any thoughts as to how to remedy this situation?

3. Troy Wearer - 13, January 2011

Bribery. I got more results with an offer of a Rolex as a bonus than any amount of money. Weird – they could easily afford to buy the watch for themselves, but being able to show it off to their mates seemed to press the right buttons. Obviously dosn’t work for everyone (or every company). I have some other thoughts that are best left unexpressed 😉 I really wish I could offer more. I do have to say Kuwait seems a lot more grounded and mature (ie less of an issue) than Qatar, so maybe 3 generations of western education helps too?

thegulfblog.com - 13, January 2011

Interesting you say that Kuwait seems better. That’s not my experience at all. In the longer term I think that Kuwait will be one of the most…umm..screwed gulf states, but that’s because of its parliament and for other reasons too lengthy to go into now! Thanks again for your two cents.

4. HilariOus - 14, January 2011

great mve for Qatar, hope the same here in Oman. this is one of the major problems here in Gulf “WASTA”.
yes some privet sectors starts to apply performance on bonus specially where i work. but still to much to go for

One suggestion given to make people realize the part in which they should play in their countries is making a voluntary work part of mandatory tasks in schools so people will live the responsibility since the start
still long way to go to

5. troy wearer - 16, January 2011

Agree 100% on your Kuwait view, but that’s a different subject!! I’m referring to the attitude of the nationals in my current employ, who turn up, work hard and have a ‘proper’ education to back their thoughts and actions!

@hilarious – interesting thoughts on CSR, but with such small & privileged populations, what are they to do? No soup kitchens in this part of the world…

6. Sam Jbarah - 4, February 2011

As someone who had worked on the design and implementation of a performance system for a major company in Qatar, I can tell you from experience that this idea is better than nothing, but is nowhere near what is necessary to address real issues with local employees. I have had rrot canals that were easier to go through than the implementation of the system, and the only reason I had agreed to participate is that it was lead by a young bright Qatari lady who I felt needed all the support she can get.

With any change for it to be successful, there must be a compelling crisis or a devine case to have peolpe buy into it. Furthermore, it is next to impossible to motivate someone with holding or taking away a 6% increase in salary, when the entire salary is meaningless. Most peple I dealt with view their obs as an annoying part of the day they do not care for, so there you go.
Change can only work when the case for it threatens the very core of it important to us, livelyhood, food,security, and others. Without this you are spinning your wheels.

Oh the stories I could tell you.

7. Politico - 8, February 2011

Why should rentier states even care about performance? It is illogical as this directly threatens the status quo.

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