Some staff expected to call in sick to watch World Cup games, a survey found

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Many workers in the Middle East are likely to call in sick or take their annual leave to watch the World Cup, a survey of 7,000 professionals has found.

The recruitment consultancy GulfTalent contacted people from different industries in nine countries in the Middle East. Based on their findings, they warned employers to expect a slowdown in their business activity in November and December.

According to the survey results, 77 percent of employees in the region plan to watch at least some of the games, including 41 percent who will do so during office hours.

Of these, about a third expected permission to watch the games. However, one in six said they secretly watched the games via live streaming on their computer or smartphone.

16 percent of employees said they would take annual leave to watch games, and 2 percent said they would simply call in sick to see their favorite team play.

The survey found that employees who work remotely are twice as likely to call in sick to watch the games as those who work full-time in the office.

GulfTalent conducted an online survey of 7,000 professionals from various industries in nine countries in the Middle East.  Photo: Gulf Talent

The survey also surveyed employers, whose responses varied widely.

Some said they would enforce stricter attendance monitoring systems and warn staff, others said they would give staff a degree of controlled flexibility to work and watch games.

Some employees interviewed said they were allowed to take time off days when business was poor, and they could submit requests for time off to watch certain games.

Some companies have set up TV screens in the office for team-watching at certain times, or plan to take employees to watch games after office hours as a team-building initiative.

Trip to Qatar

16 percent of respondents outside of Qatar plan to travel to the country to watch some games.

A fifth of these were regular World Cup attendees, having attended some previous tournaments.

However, for the vast majority it would be the first World Cup as the host country is in the region. Travelers to Qatar are expected to take an average of one week annual leave.

The Emiratis are the most visited, with one in three Emirati respondents planning to travel to Qatar. Citizens of Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait follow, where every fourth respondent states that they intend to travel.

Saudis had the lowest participation rate, with only one in five respondents planning to visit Qatar despite the Saudi national team being present at the tournament.

Among golf’s major foreign groups, Indian and Pakistani professionals are the main segments expected to attend the Games in significant numbers.

Updated November 24, 2022 at 4:00 am


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