UAE 2021 salaries steady with business offering up to 25% bonuses, survey finds

Wage increase for professional services roles on average in the Emirates is currently 4%, according to Robert Half

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Salaries in the UAE remain steady this year, with some businesses offering bonuses of up to 25 per cent for their top performers, according to Robert Half’s 2022 Salary Guide.

Employees mostly request incentives that support their development and performance while working from home, according to the recruitment consultancy. The most requested benefits include work-from-home policy, childcare support and subsidised training support, the study revealed.

In the UAE, multinationals are happy to enable remote working but some SMEs are resisting, which is putting off potential candidates for whom it is a priority perk, the recruiter said.

Half of all employees in the UAE expect to move to a new job over the next 12 months, with salary the No 1 reason to switch jobs in 2021, according to a January survey by global recruitment agency Hays.

The average salary increase for professional services roles in the UAE is currently 4 per cent, estimates based on the analysis of salaries for more than 150 roles revealed. The most significant salary increases are in the legal sector, followed by finance and accounting, and technology, the Robert Half research found.

Business leaders in the UAE are primarily hiring for roles that support financial recovery, digital transformation and human resources, the research found.

Resilience, adaptability, good communication skills, leadership and empathy are considered fundamental soft skills for almost all job roles.

“While focus remains on hiring for critical vacancies, businesses will also dedicate resources to bolstering skills in their technology, legal and finance departments,” said Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for the Middle East at Robert Half.

“The hiring market is now weighted in favour of the employer. Digital skills are more in demand than ever as remote working and digital transformation continue to change the workplace.”


The most resilient industries in the UAE today are pharmaceuticals, utilities, FMCG and government, according to Robert Half, and the top jobs in demand are for financial planning and analysis, finance managers, executive assistants, chief technology officers and HR officers.

In the UAE’s accounting and finance industry, Covid-19 led to some organisations scaling down their accounting and finance hiring to core positions only. With the region moving towards “business as usual”, hiring for non-critical roles has resumed, according to the recruiter.

The most in-demand jobs in this industry are senior roles across financial planning and analysis, credit and project management, the salary guide found.

Meanwhile, in the UAE’s financial services industry, there is robust demand for skilled professionals with experience in financial transformation and change management.

Banks will invest in digital and e-commerce talent to oversee the implementation of new operating systems and system migrations, according to Robert Half.

Companies are also upskilling teams in data analytics and digital skills to help them meet new challenges.

The most in-demand roles in the UAE technology industry are in cyber security and data analystics. Professionals in this space can expect to earn between $20,000 and $40,000, depending on their experience, Robert Half said.

“Tech professionals will find good opportunities in FinTech, specifically with online payment and lending specialists. Start-ups are rushing to optimise e-commerce experience, supporting demand for software developers and engineers,” the guide said.

In-demand jobs in the technology sector include software engineer, data analysts and scientists, and cyber security specialists, the study found.

The most sought-after roles in the UAE human resources and admin industry are for HR generalists, HR consultants and executive assistants, according to Robert Half. HR and admin professionals must have digital skill sets and experience with various software so they can continue to support, on-board and train staff remotely.

Meanwhile, jobs in demand in the UAE legal industry are head of legal, general counsels, senior legal counsels, senior associates and legal counsels, Robert Half revealed.

“Legal professionals are seeing increased demand from companies in the technology, data protection and cyber security space. Bilingual candidates (Arabic and English) are the most preferred, as are those with a UK or US educational background,” the research found.

Updated: November 03, 2021, 12:33 PM