Research Techniques

We work hard, but we also work smart when it comes to conducting our research, for the various reports and content provided in our annual subscriptions.  Each year, during Q3 & Q4 of the calendar year, our team takes 3 months to acquire the current pricing for all the individual areas that our reports cover.  As a basic example, in the Household & Utilities section of our UAE report, our research team visits a cross-section of domestic supermarkets within each Emirate in order to establish the median (average) prices for all the items featured in our shopping basket. In this example, site visits to Spinneys, Carrefour, Choithrams, Union Coop, Lulu and Geant are carried out and prices for each of the 25 items in the shopping basket are recorded, and a weighted median is calculated (based on number of outlets for each retail chain) and presented in the UAE report.

Each of the 8 top-level sections of our reports require a variety of research techniques – not all require site visits.  Typically, our primary research is done via telephone calls, web browsing and where required, site visits. Survey responses are also used within our research findings, much like YouGov, Mercer and other global research & data providing agencies.  We include citations where any 3rd party/ external sources have been used. Typically they include the World Bank, IMF, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and other regional government & municipal public bodies who release information within their respective territories.


Research Goals

There’s no point in our team conducting all the research which we do, with all the thousands of man-hours, tens of thousands of calculations and hundreds of pages of analysis, unless they actually achieve a purpose.  In our experience, having the right data and accurate analysis at your fingertips is extremely useful when looking to achieve the typical objectives a C-Level Director, Head of Finance and of course, a HR Head would look to achieve, such as:

Staying Competitive with Remuneration

Our reports are created with the sole purpose of making your annual adjustments seamless and spot-on.  Without knowing what’s happening in the market cost-wise, it’s impossible to know what a competitive package looks like for new & existing staff, particularly expatriate labour.  And with anonymous survey responses from companies across a number of sectors, we help to share benchmarking information across our entire client base, without pinpointing any particular employer, guaranteeing anonymity for all of our valued survey respondents.

Retain Staff

Naturally, if you have the right information at your disposal, you’re more likely to act accordingly in a way that helps you retain the staff you want.  Our goal is to helps large organisations plan their C&B policies effectively with current market data.

Preserve Knowledge

Too often, when an employee leaves, their knowledge leaves with them.  By making sure you minimise labour turnover and maximise your company’s staff retention, you’re indirectly helping to cut costs significantly in the long run, and helping to sustain and increase corporate growth rates.  We help our customers achieve this by giving them an in-depth market insight into the various market forces and changes which affect the typical job categories any large regional employer would have, and their respective implications on labour and the economy.

Minimise Cost of Hiring

By keeping the staff you want and attracting only the staff you need, at the right price, you’re making sure you never spend more than you need to when hiring. The data & analysis within our reports helps to give insight into what to expect in the coming year, and how that may affect your hiring policy, frequency and budgets.

Accurate Expatriate Benchmarking

We based our salary benchmarking on the Cost of Living, among other things.  Rather than telling you what to pay, like other benchmarking surveys tend to do, we justify our benchmarking suggestions by showing you the cost of living, within each city & country. We take data from local employers, HR agencies, consultancies & online job aggregators, and combine it with the information we receive from our hundreds of survey responses, to remove any market asymmetry, and give our clients a real-world view of what the market is doing adjustment-wise for the coming 12 months.

Effective C&B Structuring

Expatriate remuneration packages typically comprise a number of different allowances and contractual terms, based on the location of the employer and the job function and seniority of the employee.  These terms may vary given the respective labour laws in each of the MENA-based countries.  Our reports helps to simplify the minefield of content by breaking down the cost of accommodation, healthcare, education, business travel and more, to make sure you’re getting the balance right within your annual C&B adjustments, helping employers to plan effectively for the coming year.  The written commentary in our reports pays close attention to any legislative changes, which may affect future hiring targets and timelines.

Seamless Regional Expansion

Our reports not only feature guides for the typical allowances a remuneration package might include, but they also provide operational-level costs, such as the cost of commercial property and business licenses & renewals, helping you to effectively expand within your current market, or regionally into new GCC territories.

Removing Market Asymmetry

With all of the reports (paid & unpaid) that the local market is flooded with each year, and various press releases, all seemingly contradicting each other, we aim to provide real local and accurate data, based on actual primary research and over a decade of historical data and consistency, helping you to benchmark effectively year-on-year, without having to look at and assess multiple data providers.

Happier Staff

What’s it all for, if it doesn’t result in happier staff.  By helping HR decision makers across the Middle East, we believe we’re indirectly helping anyone who’s employed, by helping employers have targeted & tailored remuneration packages, which reflect the current year’s economy, which are more important than ever in the MENA region with the ever-fluctuating prices and World Cup & Expo 2020 approaching within the coming 6 years, in Dubai & Qatar.

More importantly from an employee’s perspective, our reports provide guides for a number of consumer-based commodities and services.  Many of our clients purchase the source data from our reports and disseminate it among their staff, who are then able to use the information to help rent an apartment, choose a school for their child, or even to know the going rate for an insurance package for their spouse, if it’s not covered by their employer.  So our data provides real value, not only to our clients – the employers, but also their employees.

Research Team

All report research & analysis is performed by us, in-house, by a team of specialist consultants and economists, based in Dubai and the USA. Our research team members comprise undergraduate & postgraduate economists and public policy specialists.  Interns are used for much of our Primary research from the best-of-breed regional universities (typically final year econ students, with a solid understanding of quantitative analysis) and we use in-house Arabic-speaking copywriters to produce the narrative and provide the editorial for our individual country reports. Although all of our written commentary is in English, fluency in Arabic is required for all of the various place names, policy definitions, legal characterizations and cultural references used within our reports.

Our actual research is a combination of both primary & secondary research, predominantly primary research, based on actual local findings, as a locally and organically-grown business based out of the UAE, with over a decade of successive annual reports.  For a list of our secondary research sources and how we utilise their datasets, please check the Secondary Research Providers page, of our Website.