UAE salary guide 2023: How much should you be earning?

Check out the earning potential for jobseekers in sectors such as technology, sales, property, banking, construction, office support and human resources

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Two of the biggest questions many employees ask themselves at the beginning of a new year are: how much can I expect to earn this year and will I get a pay rise?

This year is no different, particularly as the jobs market in the UAE continues to rally on the back of strong market confidence, a boost in foreign direct investment and companies accelerating hiring plans to attract the best talent, recruitment specialists say.

“On a broader level, the UAE’s jobs market has enjoyed its strongest year in a decade, with higher-than-anticipated demand across the public and private sectors,” Trefor Murphy, founder and chief executive of Cooper Fitch, says in the recruitment consultancy’s 2023 UAE salary guide.

Watch: Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, FEB 24, 2016. Jason Leavy, MD of Edelman Dabo. Photo: Reem Mohammed / The National (Reporter: Frank Kane /Section: BZ) Job ID: 27616 *** Local Caption ***  RM_20160224_JASONLEAVY_004.JPG

“This activity has been fuelled in no small part by the healthy position in which the nation’s government finds itself, as well as its success in incentivising local and international funding for large projects.”

The UAE jobs market has made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, boosted by the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.

The UAE, the Arab world’s second-largest economy, has undertaken a number of economic, legal and social reforms to strengthen its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers with new visas and provide incentives to companies to set up or expand their operations.

It has also introduced an unemployment insurance programme, which came into effect on January 1.

As the demand for talent in the UAE continues to accelerate, we look at the salary and employment outlook for jobseekers for the remainder of 2023. Read on to find out and check out our guides above for a detailed look at salaries in your industry.

Will salaries increase in 2023?

The outlook for salary increases for employees in the UAE this year is positive, with recruitment experts forecasting an average rise of between 2 per cent and 5 per cent.

However, this depends on an employee's role and sector.

Employees in the financial services and legal sectors can expect the highest salary increases in 2023, with an average rise of 5 per cent and 4.9 per cent, respectively, recruitment consultancy Robert Half says in its 2023 UAE salary report.

This is followed by the technology industry, which is expected to record an average 3 per cent salary increase, while finance and accounting professionals will receive a 2.5 per cent wage rise and the HR sector a 2 per cent increase, it adds.

Meanwhile, a survey by jobs portal and market research agency YouGov this month found that 53 per cent of employees in the UAE expect to receive a salary increase this year.

About 70 per cent of employees in the Emirates believe their salaries will either increase or stay the same in 2023, according to the poll, which surveyed 2,941 people from countries such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon and Jordan, from November 16 to 28.

An increase in opportunities, economic growth, intense competition in attracting and retaining talent and good corporate performance or improved profitability were some of the reasons cited for the expected rise in salaries, the poll found.

“Based on market confidence and therefore more aggressive growth and diversification plans, organisations shifted up a gear and their appetite to invest in attracting top talent increased significantly,” Jon Ede, regional director of Michael Page UAE, says in the company’s 2023 UAE Salary Guide and Hiring Insights report.

“We have also seen a significant return to foreign investments with businesses looking to expand their international footprint into the UAE.”

Are companies planning to pay annual bonuses in 2023?

It’s good news for many employees hoping to receive a bonus in 2023, with almost 75 per cent of business leaders who responded to the Cooper Fitch salary guide survey saying they plan to reward staff for their hard work over the past 12 months.

However, 26 per cent of respondents will not be paying an annual bonus, the majority of which represented the logistics and supply chain sector.

Thirty-six per cent of respondents to the survey say they expect to pay a bonus equal to one month’s gross salary, while 20 per cent plan to pay two months’ gross salary.

Meanwhile, 10 per cent of respondents will pay staff a bonus of up to three months’ salary, 3 per cent will pay four months and 1 per cent will reward employees with a five-month bonus.

“Employees working for 4 per cent of the companies surveyed this year can look forward to annual bonuses amounting to a generous six months’ gross salary,” Cooper Fitch says in the report.

“The sectors represented in this category include banking, financial services, investment management and consulting.”

Top 15 companies to work for in the UAE, according to LinkedIn — in pictures

What benefits can jobseekers expect in 2023?

A competitive benefits package is essential to attract the best talent, according to recruitment experts.

Some companies are thinking outside of the box and offering employees extra bonuses or one-off stipends to help ease a rise in the cost of living as well as enhance employee loyalty and encourage them to stay with the business, recruitment consultancy Robert Half says in its 2023 salary guide.

“Others are making longer-term adjustments to allowances for health care and housing — costs that are, and will likely continue to be, increasing and putting strain on employees’ personal finances,” Gareth El Mettouri, associate director for the Middle East at Robert Page, says in the report.

“To make it possible to offer these increases to employees, business leaders are having to make cuts elsewhere,” Mr El Mettouri adds.

“Many are looking to reduce overheads, and family allowances are one of the casualties. More organisations are offering single-status benefits rather than family benefits, which reduces the costs associated with education and health care.”

Learning to embrace a hybrid work model proves to be key in attracting and safeguarding employees
Michael Page, 2023 Salary Guides and Hiring Insights

In today’s knowledge economy, employees and jobseekers are focused on acquiring new skills to succeed in their careers, Michael Page says in its salary guide.

Training and career development are among the most wanted employment benefits, followed by private health care for employees and their families, it adds.

“Other benefits that make a difference include financial advantages, life insurance and company-issued tech devices,” the Michael Page report says.

Flexible working — a legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic — remains a top priority for employees in 2023, with the most popular arrangement for workers being three days in the office and two days at home.

“Learning to embrace a hybrid work model proves to be key in attracting and safeguarding employees,” Michael Page says.

What are the most in-demand jobs in the UAE in 2023?

The UAE’s economy is growing rapidly, driven by “impressive recovery rates” of key segments that underpin it, Mr Murphy of Cooper Fitch says.

“Our team sees 2023 as a year in which this momentum will continue to build,” he says.

“The consulting sector, for example, has established itself as a high economic performer for the UAE, and Dubai remains the GCC hub for this market.”

Consultants specialising in tax, law, strategy and technology are likely to be in high demand in 2023, Mr Murphy says.

In the banking and financial services sector, there is also growing demand for venture capital professionals, employees with start-up portfolio experience and compliance experts, according to the Michael Page salary guide.

“Compliance remains one of the key in-demand skill sets across the region, driven by sustained high volumes of newly established entities across the DIFC and ADGM, as well as the constant evolution of compliance frameworks, controls and processes,” the report says.

Other in-demand roles include nurses, doctors and medical scientists, driven by the UAE’s growing focus on biotechnology, digital health care and research and innovation, according to Michael Page.

“Their aim is to develop the smart healthcare sector and drive it to become the world’s international destination for health innovation,” it says.

HR professionals are also in demand as the jobs market continues to accelerate in the UAE, with companies seeking specialists who can help to set up policies and processes as well as drive recruitment campaigns.

Meanwhile, the technology sector will also dominate hiring in the UAE this year, as companies continue their post-coronavirus pandemic digital transformations, LinkedIn said last week.

Employers are seeking advanced skills such as programming languages and cyber security in response to a growing emphasis on data and automation in the region, according to data compiled by the world’s largest professional network.

What are the highest paid jobs in the UAE in 2023?

  • Banking: head of consumer banking — Dh95,000-Dh200,000 (per month)
  • Legal: partner (5+ years) — Dh105,000-Dh231,000
  • Public sector: undersecretary — Dh131,800-Dh183,000
  • Strategy: chief strategy officer — Dh92,000-Dh131,000
  • Senior finance: group chief financial officer — Dh102,000-Dh153,000
  • Sales and marketing: chief marketing officer — Dh70,000-Dh120,000
  • Manufacturing: managing director — Dh99,000-Dh136,000
  • Supply chain: general manager — Dh61,000-Dh95,000
  • Investment management: chief investment officer — Dh84,000-Dh158,000+
  • Technology: chief digital officer — Dh95,000-Dh126,000
  • Human resources: chief shared services officer — Dh104,000-Dh147,000
  • Accounting and finance: chief financial officer — Dh75,000-Dh170,000
  • Property and construction: general manager — Dh65,000-Dh100,000; executive director of sales Dh78,000-Dh115,000
  • Secretarial and office support: personal assistant — Dh20,000-35,000

Sources: Cooper Fitch and Michael Page

Updated: May 29, 2023, 8:55 AM