Salaries and job titles are two of the most important factors for Emirati professionals when applying for a new role, as the UAE government continues to ramp up efforts to meet Emiratisation targets in the private sector in 2023, according to a report by recruitment consultancy Michael Page.
There is also increased hiring activity at the “junior end” of the market, particularly for fresh Emirati graduates in sectors such as information technology, technology and finance, that is being driven by an increase in the salaries being offered, Michael Page says in its 2023 Emiratisation Salary Guide and Hiring report.
“It’s interesting to see the different approaches being taken up across a range of industries in the UAE,” says Samantha Wright, Emiratisation lead at Michael Page.
Watch: Some of the stats behind the UAE's hiring boom
“Research shows that businesses venturing into Emiratisation for the first time are mostly progressing with a bottom-up talent approach,” Ms Wright says.
“Those close to achieving their quota continue to develop their Emiratisation strategy with a combination of entry roles, and senior roles mainly in human resources and finance.”
In January, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, said the first phase of the UAE’s Emiratisation drive was a success after tens of thousands of Emiratis were successfully placed in private sector jobs in 2022.
In 2023, private sector companies with at least 50 employees are required to add a total of 2 per cent of Emiratis to their workforce — 1 per cent by July 1 and the another 1 per cent by the end of the year.
In January, the Emirati Talent Competitiveness Council said the Nafis employment programme had exceeded expectations in 2022, with more than 50,000 citizens now working in the private sector.
Launched in September 2021, Nafis, which means “compete” in Arabic, was set up to ensure key Emiratisation targets are met.
Emiratis on Emiratisation — in pictures
Its website also features thousands of job opportunities for Emiratis, particularly in fields such as coding, nursing and accounting, according to Michael Page.
Under Nafis, Emiratis working in the private sector are also entitled to salary top-ups as they would typically earn more in the public sector.
The UAE jobs market has made a strong recovery from the coronavirus-induced slowdown, boosted by the government’s fiscal and monetary measures.
What is the salary and employment outlook for Emirati private and public sector jobseekers this year? Read on to find out — and check out our salary guide above for a detailed look at sectors.
Can Emirati professionals expect a salary rise in 2023?
The average salary increase for professionals in the UAE is expected to be 3 per cent in 2023, according to the Cooper Fitch Salary Guide.
In a separate report released last September, global advisory company WTW said employers in the UAE planned to raise salaries by an average of 4.4 per cent.
However, wage increases will depend on the sector and role, with banking and finance typically paying more to reward employees.
In November, the government also announced an increase in the Nafis salary top-up programme for private sector Emirati professionals.
Emiratis with degrees now receive a salary top-up of Dh7,000, up from Dh5,000 previously. Diploma holders are paid an extra Dh6,000 on top of their salary and high school graduates receive a top-up of Dh5,000.
Meanwhile, the 2023 salary for a chief human resources officer in Abu Dhabi's private sector has risen by about Dh5,000 when compared with Michael Page data compiled in 2022.
An Abu Dhabi-based chief marketing officer working for a private company can expect to receive between Dh65,000 and Dh110,00 a month, compared with Dh65,000 to Dh95,000 in 2022, the data shows.
In Dubai, the salary for an Emirati officer manager has increased to between Dh24,000 and Dh40,000. This compares with a range of Dh20,000 to Dh35,000 in 2022.
What benefits are Emirati professionals seeking in 2023?
As the UAE’s knowledge economy continues to gather pace, Emirati professionals are focusing on acquiring the skills they need to succeed in their careers, according to the Michael Page report.
About 70 per cent of respondents to a survey by Michael Page, which is included in its 2023 Emirati Salary Guide report, placed training and career development among their most-wanted employment benefits.
“This was followed by private health care for employees and their families — a top priority for just over half of respondents,” the Michael Page report says.
“Other benefits that make a difference include financial advantages, a company car and company-issued devices.”
What about flexibility?
Flexibility is also a top benefit for Emirati employees, with 72 per cent saying they would like to work remotely either some or all of the time.
About 28 per cent of respondents to the poll said they preferred to work four days in the office and one day at home.
“Around 27 per cent would like to work from home at least two days per week, while just 6 per cent would like to work from home at least four days per week,” Michael Page says.
However, the trend for remote working shouldn’t disguise the fact that many employees enjoy working in the office, it says.
“The key motivation for these workers is the chance to socialise: 31 per cent enjoy the kind of social links and relaxing moments that are only possible in an office environment, while 42 per cent of respondents highlighted the advantages of having informal meetings with colleagues.”
Is corporate social responsibility important?
Working for a company that is committed to corporate social responsibility (CSR) is increasingly important for Emirati professionals, according to Michael Page.
“These days, candidates aren’t just looking for a salary boost and career development opportunities,” it says.
About 78 per cent of survey respondents said they wanted to work for a company committed to CSR, while 61 per cent chose human rights as an important value, followed by environmental responsibility (56 per cent) and economic responsibility (50 per cent), Michael Page says in the report.
What are the highest paying jobs for Emiratis in the private sector?
- Human resources: chief human resources officer — Dh75,000-Dh110,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh65,000-Dh95,000 (Dubai) a month
- Marketing: chief marketing officer — Dh65,000-Dh110,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh58,000-Dh92,000 (Dubai)
- Procurement: chief procurement officer — Dh105,000-Dh125,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh90,000-Dh110,000 (Dubai)
- Legal: chief legal counsel — Dh80,000-Dh120,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh72,000-Dh112,000 (Dubai)
- Office support: office manager — Dh25,000-Dh45,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh24,000-Dh40,000 (Dubai)
- Technology: chief technology officer — Dh75,000-Dh150,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh70,000-Dh140,000 (Dubai)
- Finance: chief financial officer — Dh70,000-Dh150,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh65,000-Dh130,000 (Dubai)
What are the highest-paying jobs for Emiratis in the public sector?
- Human resources: chief human resources officer — Dh96,000-Dh150,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh75,000-Dh125,000 (Dubai) a month
- Marketing: chief marketing officer — Dh92,000-Dh145,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh70,000-Dh105,000 (Dubai)
- Procurement: chief procurement officer — Dh120,000-Dh140,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh110,000-Dh120,000 (Dubai)
- Legal: chief legal counsel — Dh85,000-Dh145,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh75,000-Dh95,000 (Dubai)
- Office support: office manager — Dh34,500-Dh65,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh27,000-Dh37,000 (Dubai)
- Technology: chief technology officer — Dh92,000-Dh150,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh70,000-Dh140,000 (Dubai)
- Finance: chief financial officer — Dh92,000-Dh165,000 (Abu Dhabi); Dh70,000-Dh140,000 (Dubai)
Source: Michael Page