Retiring een at a late age be a financial challenge unless people start early. Mario Proenca / Bloomberg News
Retiring een at a late age be a financial challenge unless people start early. Mario Proenca / Bloomberg News

How much do UAE expats need to save for retirement?

As we all live longer, our retirement savings have to stretch that much further.

Rock bottom global interest rates have made building sufficient pension savings even harder, as we now generate far less income from our pots.

Nobody can expect to take early retirement at, say, 55, without a substantial portfolio of work and personal pensions, investments and other assets, such as property.

Even retiring at 60 or 65 can be a financial challenge unless you start early.

UAE expats may also have little state pension provision to fall back on. On the plus side, they can use their tax-free earnings to build a cushion for their later years. That’s if sky-high rents and the Dubai lifestyle do not drain their resources and willpower first.

So exactly how much do you need to save to fund a decent lifestyle in a retirement that you are still young enough to enjoy?

Reece Fallaize, a senior technical adviser at the independent financial advisory firm deVere Group in Dubai, says the average UAE expat he meets hopes to retire with a retirement pot of about US$850,000.

“Unfortunately, they have average savings of just $125,000, leaving them well short. The vast majority severely underestimate how much capital they require to enjoy the retirement to which they aspire,” he says.

So, taking that as a target, what kind of retirement can $850,000 buy?

The answer partly depends on what age you would like to retire.

Retiring at age 55

It’s a dream for many people, to earn enough to quit the rat race and retire while you’re still young enough to enjoy yourself. Many expats have come to the UAE to do exactly that.

To make this work, you really do have to build a large pot of money. Most healthy, educated people can look forward to living to 80 or beyond, so if you retire at 55, your savings will have to stretch at least another 25 years.

While $850,000 might seem like a lot of money, given today’s low interest rates, it won’t stretch as far as you might hope, Mr Fallaize says. “If you retired at 55, a pension pot of $850,000 would generate income of around $42,000 a year.”

Would you (and possibly your spouse) be happy living on that for the rest of your life? When doing your sums, remember that in many countries, this income will also be taxable.

The chances are you would like to generate a lot more income than that. Doubling that pension target to $1.7 million would still only buy you an income of about $80,000 a year. Early retirement will be out of reach for most people.

If you still want to go for it, the amount you need to save depends on personal factors such as how much retirement savings you already have, and how old you are, Mr Fallaize says.

A 30-year-old aiming for a pension pot of $850,000 by age 55 would need to save nearly $1,500 per month, assuming an investment return of 5 per cent a year after charges.

If that sounds a tall order, it gets exponentially harder as you get older. If you don’t start saving until age 40, you would have to save nearly $3,300 a month to hit your target. That’s nearly $40,000 a year.

If you leave it later than that, you can probably forget it (unless you have a business to sell or are due a nice inheritance).

Your early pension contributions are the most important because they have much longer to grow in value, says Cyriel Varwijk, a partner at UAE-based personal financial advisers the VSM Consultancy. “If you don’t start saving for a pension until age 40, you will have to save almost twice as much each month as somebody who starts at 30.”

Few of us will be able to retire at 55. But even if you’re happy to retire later, you need to get your act together today.

Retiring at age 65

At 65, a pot of $850,000 would stretch much further, because your life expectancy is 10 years lower. Typically, it would buy you income worth about $51,500 a year.

That still isn’t riches, especially if you pay tax on it.

At age 30, you would need to save $785 a month to accumulate $850,000 by age 65, assuming 5 per cent annual growth. At age 45, that rises to nearly $2,150 a month.

When you’re in your 30s, retirement seems a long way off, says Quentin Marshall, the head of advisory at Coutts in Dubai. “You have other priorities, such as repaying debts or buying a house. But the impact of a delay in building up your retirement fund can be significant.”

He says the key to successful long-term saving is to spread your money around between different assets, such as stocks and shares, bonds, cash and property.

You should review this regularly, to make sure it matches current market conditions.

Because of today’s low interest rates, he says his company is focused on global equities, “particularly companies paying attractive dividends that are capable of long-term growth.”

Deciding where to invest isn’t the only decision you face, Mr Marshall adds.

“For UAE residents intending to retire outside the region, understanding how your pension fund will be treated by the tax authorities in your retirement country of choice will be critical. You may need to take specialist tax advice to navigate these complexities.”

Retiring at age 75

Unless you absolutely love your job, you probably don’t fancy the prospect of working into your 70s. If you don’t start saving today, you may not have much choice.

At age 75, your $850,000 pension pot could generate income of about $69,000 a year. Although at this stage, rather than commit to any annuity-style project, you may prefer to live off the interest, dipping into your capital when you need it.

Most people only consider working to 75 if they have left their pension savings to late. Somebody starting from scratch at age 50, for example, would need to save nearly $1,500 a month to hit that $850,000 target by age 75.

Again, the message is clear: save early, save hard.

Get started today

The amount you need to save to build a decent pension income comes as a shock to many. The task has been made far more daunting by today’s low interest rates, which means you won’t generate as much income from your savings.

If interest rates have climbed higher by the time you retire, you should be able to generate more income from the same pot of money.

Pensions are complex, especially for internationally mobile expats, so you may need to take specialist advice on your options specific to your home country.

You could back this with a portfolio of investment funds that matches your attitude to risk and investment goals, says James Thomas, regional director at Acuma Wealth Management in Dubai. “Fund managers such as GAM, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Skandia Investment Group all offer managed investment portfolios tailored to the investor’s personal needs.”

The GAM Star Balanced fund, for example, invests in a blend of 30 funds, spread across the world with a wide range of asset classes, Thomas says.

Such a fund gives a “boost to your chances of getting a steady, risk-managed return, while keeping volatility under control”, he says.

Aside from pensions, you have plenty of other tough retirement decisions to make, Mr Thomas says. “Often the biggest unknown is where to retire. The longer you are offshore, and the more places you live, the less likely it is that you will return to your home country. You also have to watch out for tax surprises in the country that you do eventually retire in.”

Another challenge facing UAE expats is combining the twin savings goals of building a pension with buying somewhere to live in your country of retirement. “I regularly see people who have spent so much on a property that they don’t have enough wealth to generate a decent income when they do retire,” Mr Thomas says.

Building a large pension pot is vital, but it is only one element of successful retirement planning.

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Arctic Monkeys

Tranquillity Base Hotel + Casino (Domino) 


The design

The protective shell is covered in solar panels to make use of light and produce energy. This will drastically reduce energy loss.

More than 80 per cent of the energy consumed by the French pavilion will be produced by the sun.

The architecture will control light sources to provide a highly insulated and airtight building.

The forecourt is protected from the sun and the plants will refresh the inner spaces.

A micro water treatment plant will recycle used water to supply the irrigation for the plants and to flush the toilets. This will reduce the pavilion’s need for fresh water by 30 per cent.

Energy-saving equipment will be used for all lighting and projections.

Beyond its use for the expo, the pavilion will be easy to dismantle and reuse the material.

Some elements of the metal frame can be prefabricated in a factory.

 From architects to sound technicians and construction companies, a group of experts from 10 companies have created the pavilion.

Work will begin in May; the first stone will be laid in Dubai in the second quarter of 2019. 

Construction of the pavilion will take 17 months from May 2019 to September 2020.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

'How To Build A Boat'
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The Bio

Favourite holiday destination: Either Kazakhstan or Montenegro. I’ve been involved in events in both countries and they are just stunning.

Favourite book: I am a huge of Robin Cook’s medical thrillers, which I suppose is quite apt right now. My mother introduced me to them back home in New Zealand.

Favourite film or television programme: Forrest Gump is my favourite film, that’s never been up for debate. I love watching repeats of Mash as well.

Inspiration: My late father moulded me into the man I am today. I would also say disappointment and sadness are great motivators. There are times when events have brought me to my knees but it has also made me determined not to let them get the better of me.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

The specs

Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
Power: 261hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,750-4,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km
On sale: Now
Price: From Dh129,999 (VX Luxury); from Dh149,999 (VX Black Gold)

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5


Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2


Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
Based: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Industry: Clean cooking
Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

The bio

Who inspires you?

I am in awe of the remarkable women in the Arab region, both big and small, pushing boundaries and becoming role models for generations. Emily Nasrallah was a writer, journalist, teacher and women’s rights activist

How do you relax?

Yoga relaxes me and helps me relieve tension, especially now when we’re practically chained to laptops and desks. I enjoy learning more about music and the history of famous music bands and genres.

What is favourite book?

The Perks of Being a Wallflower - I think I've read it more than 7 times

What is your favourite Arabic film?

Hala2 Lawen (Translation: Where Do We Go Now?) by Nadine Labaki

What is favourite English film?

Mamma Mia

Best piece of advice to someone looking for a career at Google?

If you’re interested in a career at Google, deep dive into the different career paths and pinpoint the space you want to join. When you know your space, you’re likely to identify the skills you need to develop.  


The Gandhi Murder
  • 71 - Years since the death of MK Gandhi, also christened India's Father of the Nation
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  • 7 - million dollars, the film's budget 
UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Tips to keep your car cool
  • Place a sun reflector in your windshield when not driving
  • Park in shaded or covered areas
  • Add tint to windows
  • Wrap your car to change the exterior colour
  • Pick light interiors - choose colours such as beige and cream for seats and dashboard furniture
  • Avoid leather interiors as these absorb more heat

The flights: South African Airways flies from Dubai International Airport with a stop in Johannesburg, with prices starting from around Dh4,000 return. Emirates can get you there with a stop in Lusaka from around Dh4,600 return.
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Accommodation: The Royal Livingstone Victoria Falls Hotel by Anantara is an ideal place to stay, within walking distance of the falls and right on the Zambezi River. Rooms here start from 6,635 kwacha (Dh2,398) per night, including breakfast, taxes and Wi-Fi. Water arrivals cost from 587 kwacha (Dh212) per person.

Mia Man’s tips for fermentation

- Start with a simple recipe such as yogurt or sauerkraut

- Keep your hands and kitchen tools clean. Sanitize knives, cutting boards, tongs and storage jars with boiling water before you start.

- Mold is bad: the colour pink is a sign of mold. If yogurt turns pink as it ferments, you need to discard it and start again. For kraut, if you remove the top leaves and see any sign of mold, you should discard the batch.

- Always use clean, closed, airtight lids and containers such as mason jars when fermenting yogurt and kraut. Keep the lid closed to prevent insects and contaminants from getting in.


Signs of heat stroke
  • The loss of sodium chloride in our sweat can lead to confusion and an altered mental status and slurred speech
  • Body temperature above 39°C
  • Hot, dry and red or damp skin can indicate heatstroke
  • A faster pulse than usual
  • Dizziness, nausea and headaches are also signs of overheating
  • In extreme cases, victims can lose consciousness and require immediate medical attention

Best Academy: Ajax and Benfica

Best Agent: Jorge Mendes

Best Club : Liverpool   

 Best Coach: Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)  

 Best Goalkeeper: Alisson Becker

 Best Men’s Player: Cristiano Ronaldo

 Best Partnership of the Year Award by SportBusiness: Manchester City and SAP

 Best Referee: Stephanie Frappart

Best Revelation Player: Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid and Portugal)

Best Sporting Director: Andrea Berta (Atletico Madrid)

Best Women's Player:  Lucy Bronze

Best Young Arab Player: Achraf Hakimi

 Kooora – Best Arab Club: Al Hilal (Saudi Arabia)

 Kooora – Best Arab Player: Abderrazak Hamdallah (Al-Nassr FC, Saudi Arabia)

 Player Career Award: Miralem Pjanic and Ryan Giggs

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000


Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

GCC-UK Growth

An FTA with the GCC would be very significant for the UK. My Department has forecast that it could generate an additional £1.6 billion a year for our economy.
With consumer demand across the GCC predicted to increase to £800 billion by 2035 this deal could act as a launchpad from which our firms can boost their market share.


Engine: 2-litre direct injection turbo
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Power: 261hp
Torque: 400Nm
Price: From Dh134,999


1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

Dengue fever symptoms
  • High fever
  • Intense pain behind your eyes
  • Severe headache
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen glands
  • Rash

If symptoms occur, they usually last for two-seven days


ODI squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

Twenty20 squad: Aaron Finch (captain), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa