When I landed my first job in Dubai, I was excited. This is normal for anyone looking to work in another country or city. As an expatriate, or simply expat, my expectations were high considering the level of my expertise, experience, and education background. So, I accepted the job offer after making my final decision. Anyway, the package and other benefits were something to smile about. Besides, it was a privilege to move and work in the most famous and more developed of the seven emirates making up the entire United Arab Emirates (The UAE). Dubai was going to be my next home for two or so years.
Dubai is one of the leading business hubs in the UAE when you compare it with other cities in different GCC countries. As such, there are endless opportunities for expats thanks to the growing economy of this emirate. When it comes to salary packages, this is where skills and experience matter the most. For example, an executive secretary earns more than a sales representative working in the same company. Again, two sales representatives doing the same job can take home different salaries. How is it possible? Let’s find out!
Picture this for a moment: The Emirate of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates Labour Law don’t have the provision that dictates minimum wages. As a result, the basic salary for workers is actually the negotiated rate stipulated in the labour contract. This is a familiar story in most of the GCC countries and it goes like this: The amount negotiated is important to you because it serves as a point of reference when calculating the end of service gratuity settlement. And this brings us to different salaries and wages for various jobs.
What is the Average Salary for various jobs in the UAE?
As I had mentioned earlier, Dubai offers a wide range of jobs much the same as any other city in the world. From domestic workers to construction experts and administration assistant to project managers, Dubai is indeed a place for anyone to grow economically. However, there is a wide gap between low-income earners and high salaried expatriates for a number of reasons.
To begin with, manual labour jobs are demanding but the pay is lower compared to the high ranking jobs. Most of the workers under this category of employment come from Asian countries such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines among others. Labourers toil for 12 hours per day and 7 days a week.
Gardeners, nannies, maids, security guards, and drivers are all classified as manual labourers in Dubai and UAE in general. When it comes to maids, their minimum salaries are determined by their countries of origin. Now, this remains unclear as to whether the set minimum pay scales are under the UAE labour laws or not.
A few years back the UAE labour laws approved certain rules pertaining to minimum salaries for different classes of workers. As a matter of fact, the rules are particularly meant for anyone who meets certain criteria.
The rules state that:
● University graduates are entitled to a minimum salary of Dh. 12,000 per month
● Skilled technicians should earn a minimum salary of DH 7000 per month
● Skilled labourers should be paid a minimum salary of Dh 5000 per month on condition that they have a high school certificate.
Keep in mind that it is against the law to form labour unions. This means workers are at the discretion of their employers when it comes to the control of their pay scales.
But there is also the positive side of the story as far as salaries in Dubai entails. Job titles with a smaller salary range can pay better based on the qualifications and size of the company. This happens more often when the job title does not depend on nationality. Surprisingly, nationality in Dubai plays a key role in awarding certain jobs to individuals.
Salaries in Dubai vary from one job to another. This is more or less the same as anywhere else in the world.
Below is a table indicating specific job titles and their respective salaries:
|Profession||Average Monthly Income|
|Executive and Management||22,762 AED|
|Accounting and Finance,||16, 241 AED|
|Business Planning||19,016 AED|
|Airlines, Aerospace, Defence or Aviation||16,441 AED|
|Bilingual||15, 430 AED|
|Fitness, Hair, and Beauty||15,613 AED|
|Fashion and Apparel||15,613 AED|
|Import and Export||16, 301 AED|
|Legal||18, 436 AED|
The salaries mentioned in the table above deviate according to the employer and companies. This is because certain companies have different pay structures, salary bandings, and internal grading.
What is the Average Household Income in the UAE?
A survey conducted by the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy reveals that the average household income in the UAE is AED 18,248.60 for residents. This is in comparison to the average household expenditure of AED 11, 241.20 per month. Out of this salary, 14.3 % of it is spent on food and beverages while 40 % goes to paying mortgages, insurance policies, and household utilities.
These statistics are based solely on the average expenditure of non-nationals and nationals for different commodities. From these findings, it was established that several factors influence an individual’s decision on average household expenditures in relation to their income.
What is the Minimum Wage in the UAE?
Even though Dubai comes out as one of the vibrant and fast-growing cities globally, it’s also expensive to live there. Therefore, the only way to support yourself in this fast-moving part of the UAE is through finding a well-paying job. Unfortunately, there is no national minimum wage which means there more variance in salaries for different types of jobs. So, who determines salaries and wages in Dubai?
In Dubai, employers have the liberty to pay whatever salary they feel is fair enough for particular jobs. This implies that there are well-paying jobs in Dubai as well as extremely poor paying jobs as well.
For instance, the manufacturing wages sector in Dubai is among the lowest globally. This is a worrying trend given that the cost of living is high in this city. This calls for proper salary negotiations with a potential employer before taking up the job. If not you may find yourself living on credit throughout.
On the flip side, there are other benefits that employers need to provide for employees. For example, employers are tasked with providing health insurance for their workers. This is good news considering that some employees receive low wages that cannot even sustain them across the month. With such wages, workers cannot afford a mortgage in Dubai and other emirates. Apart from that, rental houses are expensive with a one-bedroom flat in the city going for more than AED 7000.
What is the Average Salary in the UAE’s Capital City, Abu Dhabi?
Abu Dhabi is one of the most expensive cities to live not only in the Middle East but in the entire world. Salaries in this UAE capital ranges from 2,211 AED to 72,330 AED (maximum) per month.
Taking into account the salary distribution in Abu Dhabi, we find the median monthly salary to be 16, 497 AED. This means half or 50% of the population earn less than 16,497 AED per month while the other 50% earn more than 16,497 AED monthly. Since the median represents the value between the highest salaries and lowest salaries, it is a good idea to be on the higher side.
At the moment, the average salary of those working in Abu Dhabi is about 16,500 per month. This amount includes transport, housing, and other benefits. But salaries and wages can vary from one profession to another.
Accountants, registered nurses, human resource managers, and general managers are among the highest-ranking professionals in the UAE. At least someone earning such decent wages can live comfortably in different cities within the United Arab Emirates.
What is the Cost of Living (In US Dollars) in the UAE?
The cost of living in the United Arab Emirates varies from place to place. Dubai is by far the most expensive city with Abu Dhabi coming next. Other cities such as Al Ain, Fujairah and Sharjah are a little bit affordable.
When I thought Dubai was expensive, I realized later that I was wrong. Compared to London, Singapore, New York City and Dublin, Dubai is less expensive. This is according to a website known as Expatisan.
Back in the UAE, the cost of living revolves around basic human needs. These include rent, utilities, food, transportation, and taxes. Rent is the biggest expense and can vary depending on your preference. In Dubai, a two-bedroom house starts from $ 12,250 per year.
Utilities are excluded from the rent and they differ from one emirate to another. Food is the next biggest expense in all seven emirates. You may need around $410 per month to meet your food expenses.
When it comes to using the internet and phones, there are good deals for everyone. For only $40 you can enjoy 3 GB data plus a few minutes. Whether you purchase your data on cash or credit, you will not spend much on surfing the internet and making calls.
Transportation is also costly although it depends on where you live. In Dubai, transportation pass is approximately $70 per month and this is quite expensive for low-income earners.
The average salary in Dubai depends on several factors key among them the type of job one is doing. Considering that Dubai is a fast-moving city and an economic hub in the UAE, the cost of living is high. So, you need a good salary to meet your living expenses in this city. The transformation of this city to becoming a modern city has seen tremendous changes. This is no surprise to the increase in the number of people wanting to live in this city. An increase in the number of people who want to invest in the city and an increase in a surge in the number of professionals is also noticeable.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.