UAE salary guide: how much should you be earning across public and private sectors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi?

'The National' charts the earning potential for sectors including IT, legal, marketing and communications and human resources

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Related: 60% of UAE employers plan to hire more workers in 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic caused major disruptions to the global jobs market last year, but sentiments towards UAE salaries for 2021 look promising.

A new report by Hays recruitment agency showed that 44 per cent of respondents in the UAE expect a pay rise in the next 12 months.

Just over half are confident their pay package will remain the same, while only two per cent foresee a cut coming their way.

The results are surprising, considering the global salary cuts and redundancies in 2020, due to strict lockdowns.

However, recruitment experts are hopeful the market is set for a rebound – even if a little slower than normal, due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19.

“We do not expect the pandemic to negatively affect salaries in 2021,” said Samantha Wright, senior recruitment consultant with Hays.

“This view is reflected by professionals working in the UAE, with 53 per cent expecting their salary to remain the same, year-on-year in 2021, 44 expecting an increase and two per cent expecting a decrease.”


Going forward, Ms Wright said IT specialists with digital technology and data-driven skill-sets will be the “most in-demand professionals in the market in 2021”.

This is due to the UAE government’s ongoing focus on digitisation and automation.

Positions that invite a big salary package include IT directors and managers, as well as digital marketing managers.

In late 2020, the government embarked on one of the biggest overhauls of the legal system in years, with changes to family law and other areas affecting people's daily lives announced.

The laws reflect progressive measures to improve living standards for both nationals and residents in the UAE.

As a result, the legal sector is likely to be a part of the economy's rebound efforts, with more opportunities for legal advisers, legal secretaries and paralegals likely this year.

As part of the Hays 2021 Emiratisation Salary and Employment report, experts have mapped out a salary guide that Emiratis can use to benchmark their salary packages against others in the region.

The salaries have been broken down into three categories – the private sector and the public sector in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The report clearly shows that public sector organisations in Abu Dhabi pay the highest salaries to UAE nationals – sometimes more than 40 per cent higher than private organisations.