ReflectionsJobs and salaries of foreigners compared to YemenisLet’s see equal pay for equal work [Archives:2004/713/Opinion]

February 19 2004

By Yahya Al-Olfi
The Government of Yemen disrespects its own people. It is rather disdainful to note that most official posts in Yemen are occupied by ill-qualified people whose prop is favoritism and nepotism, and such misconduct reflects itself in an evident complex termed as the “Foreigner's Preference.”
“Foreigner's Preference” means here the liking of foreigners to local people in the field of employment, particularly giving foreigners higher salaries, bonuses and remunerations although locals can be in most cases highly skilled.
In fact, some foreigners might produce falsified evidence and be accepted blindly. Many have been discovered accidentally.
This has almost been eliminated in other Arab Countries, where, if it ever existed, was meant to prefer Europeans over Arabs.
But the case in Yemen is rather ridiculous because any given foreigner whomsoever, no matter where he hails from, is highly thought of and thus treated better by our public and private sector leaders.
I know of a company that imported six technicians whose salaries are paid in American dollars, and were supposed to operate and maintain some machines, but after they were put to work, they said they could not because the machines are different than those they are accustomed to back in their country.
So the Yemeni businessmen ordered his underpaid Yemeni technicians to train these foreigners. Is it not idiotic?
Particularly when a person who has studied business in the UK perpetrates it. But he is not to be blamed, for I think he is merely copying the government on this.
Thus we have to ask where is the Ministry of Social and Labor Affairs? Why does it not include and discuss this issue amongst other issues during the prospective seminar which it intends to hold?
Look for example at Yemeni doctors, engineers etc. whom the state pays a lot of money for education and training abroad in USA and Canada and other rich countries, and how they are maltreated and underpaid back home.
I know many foreign architects, accountants (translators having only secondary school leaving certificates). Some of them are receiving monthly salaries ranging between $2,000 and $10,000, amongst other advantages, while their Yemeni counterparts are merely paid salaries ranging between YR15,000 to YR70,000, which is $70 to $350.
I have tried to find a justification for this misconduct and found none. Other countries do not permit foreigners to work, except after having scrutinized meticulously whether they are unrivaled by locals or not. I have concrete examples about this.
What is rather funny about all of this, is that such foreigners often subcontract locals to do them the work they are supposed to do. For example, I mostly work as a translator and have met many such people subcontracting my services because they do not want to tire themselves.
On the whole, our responsible people are content with the status quo albeit Saudis and Omanis next door are Saudizing and Omanizing to the extent they could enforce some advantages to Foreigners.
So, do you think the day shall come when we would follow suit!?