Middle East employers face higher staff absences due to FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022: Report

UAE, 25 Nov 2022

Employers across the Gulf region are set to witness a major slowdown in operations during the World Cup season in November and December as a result of staff absences and productivity slump, according to a survey conducted by GulfTalent.

The tournament hosted in Qatar will run until December 18 between 2 PM to 1 AM (GST).

Based on the survey, 77 percent of employees in the region plan to watch at least some of the games, including 41 percent who said they plan to watch the games during work hours, and one-third of those individuals said that they would be given permission to watch the games.

One in six said they would resort to secretly watching the games by live streaming them on computers or smartphones.

Some employees revealed that they would take annual leaves, leave work early or call in sick to watch the games.

According to the survey, employees working remotely reported being twice as likely to call in sick to watch the World Cup as compared to those working in the office full-time.

Employer reactions to the findings vary, some saying that they plan to implement stricter attendance, monitoring and measures such as warnings and some say that they plan to give employees a level of controlled flexibility.

Some survey respondents revealed that they were allowed time off on days when work was less busy and request for time off to watch certain games.

Companies have also set up TV screens in the office for collective game watching during certain times or treat it as an opportunity for team-building by taking employees out to watch the match post work hours.

Among Gulf nationals, the intention to travel to watch the World Cup games were highest among UAE nationals, with one in three Emirati respondents planning to travel to Qatar followed by Omani, Bahraini and Kuwaiti nationals.

The lowest attendance percentage among Gulf nationals were respondents from Saudi Arabia, with one in five respondents planning to visit Qatar, however, Saudi nationals are expected to constitute a large segment of GCC attendees considering the dominant size of the Saudi population.

From the expat segment in the region, Indian and Pakistani nationals are the main segments expected to attend the World Cup games, the survey states.

Based on the findings of the survey, individuals travelling to Qatar are planning to take an average of one week of annual leave. Given the high volume of intended travellers, this could likely lead to a significant rate of absences across the region.

UAE operations are in line for impact due to the effect of the World Cup leaves, national day holidays and the end of year holiday season.

The survey was conducted with 7,000 professionals across nine countries in the Middle East and employed in different industries.