Thursday, January 29, 2015

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Living in Dubai

Salary and Pay Scale in Dubai

Salaries vary widely in Dubai, depending on your qualifications and negotiation skills. Dubai has no minimum wage rates or standardized salaries, and salaries are usually similar to, or greater than those paid in western nations. Salaries also vary widely depending on nationalities, often because they are based on qualification, and western qualifications are worth more than non-western qualifications. Market rates are mostly governed by what is sufficient to attract foreign nationals away from their home countries, and not governed by what is a fair wage, as against what others are earning for same work in the UAE.

Pay Scale Dubai

Salary packages are mostly dependent on your negotiation skills. For instance, an executive secretary may be paid more than a product sales representative within the same company, and even two secretaries working on same jobs can have different salary packages.

The UAE Federal Labour Law and the Emirate of Dubai does not have the provision for minimum wages, and your basic salary is what is a negotiated rate stipulated in your labour contract. The amount is important, as it is the basis of calculation for your end-of-service gratuity pay.

In case of salary increases, you should ensure that you receive a formal notice of the increase in writing and the Labour Department has to be duly notified. As haggling is a part of UAE salary negotiation, it would be good to learn how to sell yourself effectively and convincingly. Hence, do your research to get a feel of the going rates. But, be aware that what you finally get will depend on what the employer perceives to be your value to the company. When haggling, do remember that salary rate stipulated in your contract will remain true all through the term of that particular contract. Salary increase rates are not guaranteed. Not all employers in Dubai give compulsory annual increases, as is the case in other countries, where minimum wage laws exist.

Although, financial concepts involve various other elements, the quality of lifestyle that you would lead in Dubai, depends on various factors, the major ones being nature of lifestyle, cost of accommodation and your purchasing power.

Before accepting the job offer, it is good to check with your employer if you are eligible for free accommodation in Dubai. There are several companies in Dubai that offer lodging in personnel houses free-of-charge, depending on the rank of the employees. It is good to join organizations that offer free accommodation, as housing always comes with food and transportation services. Apart from financial comforts, it also frees you from having to make all these necessary arrangements yourself.

Here are basic items that the law mandates to be included in compensation package of the employee:

  • Basic Salary
  • 30-day annual paid leave (21 for the first year)
  • Medical Insurance (some companies offer private insurance coverage after probation)
  • Recruitment and visa-processing fee and associated costs.
  • Gratuity Pay
  • Return flight to your home country at the end of your contract

Quality of salaries for various jobs

There are a range of jobs in Dubai that are much the same as in any city, but the range of incomes are larger than those otherwise familiar by expats for several reasons.

Manual labour type jobs are demanding and are poorly paid. Majority of workers in this type of employment are from the Asian subcontinent, particularly, India, Pakistan, Philippines and Indonesia. Labourers work for 12 hours a day and 7 days a week. Maids, nannies, gardeners, drivers, and security guards fall under this category. Filipino and Indonesian maids fall under a minimum wage plan of Dh.700 a month, as per the deal signed by their respective governments with UAE.

Jobs in tourism and service sectors are poorly paid and are quite demanding. Majority of people working in these jobs come from Asia, particularly the Philippines. Some sectors, such as aircrew, have all nationalities represented, and working conditions and salaries are much better.

The nursing sector seems attractive, and is in demand, but not so well paid.

Receptionists and secretaries earn low wages for long hours of work however, when upgraded to a Personal Assistant for the boss of a large company, salary gets more attractive, especially so if you are fluent in English and Arabic. In some cases, substantial salaries that are on par with other professionals are also possible.

For Middle Management, majority of the employed are usually Asian, particularly Indians, or expat Arab. The pay can be mediocre to reasonable, or even better for well trained executives in large corporations.

Teaching is one of the few professions that has a minimum wage of Dh.2000 per month, although it is not always adhered to. Salaries in government or Indian schools are Dh.1500 to Dh.4000 per month. Schools with English curriculum or western oriented private schools have salaries in the range Dh.5000 to Dh.15,000, while a handful of them pay up to Dh.20,000 per month. Salaries sometimes vary in the same school depending on the nationality of the teacher.

Architects, lawyers, accountants, pilots and such professions are represented by all nationalities, but the more reputable companies and higher level jobs usually require western trained personnel. Salaries range from poor to very good.

Doctors are of varied nationalities and are usually western-trained. Salaries are mediocre to good, depending on the hospital/clinic and nationality of the doctor.

Project Managers / Directors / Senior Management / CEOs and Managing Directors were able to command increasing salaries during 2006-08 period but, when the building boom doomed in 2009, the equation reversed. Senior Management tends to be western or UAE nationals and these jobs are well-paid, but, are usually demanding.

CEOs and Managing Directors for large companies usually get paid well, but, even top level management for smaller companies get reasonably well-paid.

Salary range for various sectors

For supervisory positions in certain industries, minimum salary range varies from Dh.5000 to Dh.7000. But, this is right for a single expatriate leading an average lifestyle. For couples and families seeking to relocate their family to Dubai, a minimum salary of Dh.10,000 to Dh.15,000 would be required. A lower salary range is acceptable only if the employer offers housing benefits.

In UAE salaries could range from a minimum of Dh.1000 to maximum of Dh.90,000, with average salaries falling in the range Dh.13.600 to Dh.17,619.

Mentioned below are average wages and salary ranges for Dubai. Actual figure will depend on qualifications, employee nationality, experience, and more such aspects. All salary ranges are mentioned in UAE Dirhams.

Job category Average Monthly Salary

Administration / Reception / Secretarial

Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology Dh.6,833
Recreation, Sports Dh.3000
Courier / Delivery / Transpor / Drivers Dh.2550
Fitness/ Beauty Dh.8000
Media/Arts/Entertainment/Broadcasting Dh.8500
Food/Tourism/Hospitality/Catering Dh.8750
Purchasing and Inventory Dh.10,800
Import and Export Dh.11,300
Customer Service/Call centre Dh.11,768
Fashion and Apparel Dh.13,000
Public Relations Dh.13,700
Human Resources Dh.14,084
Accounting and Finance Dh.14,251
Sales Retail and Wholesale Dh.14,438
Teaching / Education Dh.14,671
Facilities/Maintenance/Repair Dh.15,000
Factory and Manufacturing Dh.16,000
Architecture Dh.16,410
Quality Control Dh.16,730
Engineering Dh. 17,000
Marketing Dh.17,200
Insurance Dh.16,500
Information Technology Dh.18,000
Printing and Publishing Dh.18,500
Business Planning Dh.19,400
Advertising / Event management Dh.19,600
Construction/Building Dh.20,600
Automotive Dh.23,500
Airlines / Aviation / Defense Dh.23,700
Banking Dh.24,000
Medical and Health Dh.27,101
Telecommunication Dh.28,800
Science Dh.29,000
Oil / Gas / Energy / Mining Dh.29,040
Legal Dh.30,250
Real Estate Executive / Management Dh.31,668 / Dh.36,235
Government and Defence Dh.54,000

Note: Average salaries are likely to vary based on location, years of experience and/or other factors.

Other Employment benefits and pay package

A basic employment package in Dubai consists of several items which are mandated by law. Your employer must guarantee a return flight back to your homeland when employment has ceased. Your basic salary must be outlined in the contract and any gratuity pay must be discussed as well.

An annual paid leave of 21 days (for the first year) and 30 thereafter is appropriate. After the completion of your probationary period, medical insurance can either be supplied by the government or some companies employ private coverage. In addition to these, there are a number of things that can be negotiated as well; they are:

  • Allowances for food, accommodations, transportation, furnishings (for your accommodations), vehicle and cell (mobile) phones. These are things that are NOT required but can and should be discussed.
  • Assistance with relocation costs
  • Annual return ticket reimbursed
  • Medical insurance – check if they supply private policies or will you be covered by the government of Dubai

This is where the haggling can come in handy. It would be invaluable to you to learn this particular facet of negotiation.


Gratuity or end-of-service benefit is the equivalent of severance pay in other countries. It is the end-of-service benefit granted to employees who have successfully completed the term of contract under which they were hired. The fact that this gratuity pay is mandatory is yet another positive benefit of fulfilling your contract obligations. As there are no provisions for pension contributions for expatriate employees in the UAE, gratuity pay is mandatory. However, if you are terminated for good cause under Dubai law, your gratuity is no longer mandatory.

As with most things, there is a limit to how much gratuity pay you can receive in Dubai. It cannot be in excess of what would be the equivalent of your salary for 24 months. A gratuity is paid at the end of employment, depending on several factors. The gratuity also depends on the type of contract -fixed term ( limited) or unlimited, and under what circumstances you terminate your employment.

Gratuity calculation

If your employment has been lawfully terminated, you are not entitled to any gratuity pay. If you are working on a limited contract, successful completion of the term entitles you to gratuity upon expiration. However, if you are working on an unlimited contract, you are required to complete atleast one year (but less than 3) for 1/3 of gratuity pay, atleast 3 years of service (but less than 5) for 2/3 of gratuity pay and at least 5 years for full gratuity pay.

Gratuity pay is based on your last basic salary as per records appearing in the Department of Labour. Gratuity is equivalent to your 21-day pay for each year of service for first five years and 30-day pay for every year thereafter. For easier calculation, it is 21/30 of your monthly pay, multiplied by number of years in service for first five years, plus 30/30 of monthly pay multiplied by total number of years in service with current employer minus five years.

Income Tax

There is no income tax in the UAE, and depending on your nationality and your duration of stay in your Dubai job, you may have to pay tax in your home country. As each country is different, you may have to speak to your income tax department or a tax lawyer/accountant to get definitive information. As the region has no personal taxation, net income is usually much greater, and this is one of the major attractions of working in Dubai.


Apart from salary, contract workers are awarded an ‘indemnity’, which is usually based on basic salary excluding any bonuses. An indemnity may accumulate into large sum of money, if you have been working in Dubai for long time. This indemnity is in no-way related to insurance, and is an end-of-contract bonus required to be paid by law to expatriate workers as a sort of ‘thank-you’ for being of service to the state, and can also be known as ‘end of service’ benefits. Indemnity is calculated on basis of 21 days of basic pay per year for first five years of employment, and 30 days salary per year of employment.


Earlier, remuneration packages in Dubai were split into various elements – basic salary, car allowance, housing allowance, medical cover, education for children and air tickets for home visits, mobile phone allowance, furnishing allowance and food allowance. Today, however, most employers just tend to pay cash packages to cover all these expenses, although in some cases, there are performances or other bonuses.

What it all boils down to, really, is your ability to negotiate not only a good wage but some desirable (if not necessary) perks along with that salary. Don’t walk in thinking that what you get paid is all you need to worry about because as listed here, there’s a lot more for you to get your hands on during your employment in Dubai.

To plan your life in Dubai based on your salary, you need to align your expectations with reality. Try to do some salary research online or offline or both.

Now, this kind of salary research may be sufficient to give you a fair idea of what you are likely to be paid in Dubai, so that you can plan your job in Dubai more safely and accurately.

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