UAE jobs and salaries: How much can you earn in restaurants and hotels in UAE?

Hospitality salaries vary depending on expertise and experience

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The UAE's hospitality sector has demonstrated its resilience since being hit hard by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The industry faced challenging times as stay-home measures and safety restrictions – such as reduced capacities for hotels and restaurants – took their toll.

But residents continued to spend in the country's restaurants, and hotels were boosted by soaring staycation numbers.

A senior figure from one of the region's leading hotel chains said salaries were slowly returning to pre-Covid levels, but he also warned of the need to be realistic.

"I think salaries are starting to go back up but I think it's going to be at least 18 to 24 months before people can realistically expect pay rises on their contracted salaries," said Harpreet Singh, area senior director of human resources for Radisson Hotels in the Middle East and Africa.

"There will be a period when salaries are back to where they were before Covid but there won't be increases on top of that during this time."

He also said the pandemic meant there was more onus on staff to produce.

"Because of the pressure everyone's under, it is no longer enough to just do enough to merely meet expectations. The market is too competitive for that right now," he said.

"There is no hiding place anymore for people who are not producing."

He also said while the hospitality sector was showing strong resurgence in the region, it had to be put into context.

"Things are already picking up here in this region, which is great," Mr Singh said.

"However, many of the companies are global and not every market is performing as robustly as the Middle East.

"People need to be aware of the bigger picture."

Another of the region's leading hospitality experts explained how the pandemic has affected the industry.

"From 2014 to 2015 there was a massive influx of restaurants, which led to a shortage of staff, and payroll went a bit crazy," said Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, who manages a portfolio of restaurants including Folly and Reform in Dubai, and the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel in Oman.

"If you worked in a reputable restaurant then you were being headhunted for more money.

"But in the last 12 months we've seen a drop in demand and salaries, as some restaurants closed and others reduced their staff."

But there are still jobs available, so The National went to find out how much you can earn in the UAE hospitality sector.

Hospitality salary round-up

The monthly salary brackets listed below are for a six-day week, and include transport and live-out allowance, but do not include any extra service charges or tips.

Depending on the restaurant or hotel, these perks can amount to as much as Dh700 to Dh1,000 ($190 to $272) a month.

Waiting staff: Dh2,800 - Dh3,500

A waiter wearing a face protection mask serves a coffee on the terrace of the "Restaurant Le Leman" the opening day of the terrace, restaurants can only open their terraces but indoor rooms remain closed, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Nyon, Switzerland, Monday, April 19, 2021. (Laurent Gillieron/Keystone via AP)
A waiter serves a coffee on an outdoor terrace during Covid-19 restrictions. AP 

Traditionally viewed as the first step on the customer-facing hospitality ladder, motivated staff can move quickly between employers if they have a proven track record.

The role involves proffering menus to customers, describing specials, taking orders, liaising with the kitchen to serve food and drinks, preparing bills and processing payments.

Often seen as a temporary role, some waiting staff in the UAE will swap jobs for a Dh200 pay rise, as most send their money home to their families.

Hosts and hostesses: Dh5,500 - Dh7,500 

Friendly hostess working at a restaurant and talking to clients at the entrance. Getty Images
Restaurant hosts and hostesses are the welcoming face of their employer for customers. Getty Images

This job role involves greeting and seating the customers as they arrive.

Hosts and hostesses are also expected to be composed and friendly, to answer questions and take bookings on the phone.

Fluent English and Arabic speakers can expect to earn more, while a smart appearance goes a long way as staff will often be the welcoming face of their employer for customers.

Waiting staff supervisor: Dh6,500 - Dh7,500

One up the ladder, and a minor managerial role, a supervisor's earning power depends on their experience and the size of their team.

The role involves co-ordinating and training junior staff, stock control and ensuring the customers are kept happy.

Supervisors are often asked to balance cash registers as well.

At a large fine-dining restaurant, a waiting staff supervisor can expect to achieve the upper end of this salary bracket.

Assistant restaurant manager: Dh8,500 - Dh10,500

Responsibilities include supervising restaurant staff performance, managing contracts and payroll and ordering food and kitchen equipment.

Assistant managers should have one eye on customer service and the other on employee retention and minimising operating costs.

Shift schedules are often their responsibility as well.

Restaurant manager: Dh16,000 - Dh22,000

Assistant Restaurant manager, portrait. Getty Images
A restaurant manager has many responsibilities. Getty Images    

This is one of the broadest salary brackets, but the role is entirely different depending on the style and size of the restaurant, plus its popularity.

Managers are responsible for maintaining the restaurant's revenue, hiring and firing staff, operational costs and marketing, so the salary really depends on how much work they have to shoulder.

Many managers will have a degree in business administration, hospitality management or culinary schooling, and they will be expected to be familiar with restaurant management software.

Ensuring the restaurant complies with health and safety restaurant regulations is also a key responsibility, particularly during the pandemic.

Commis chef: Dh2,200 - Dh2,400

A chef at Molly Malone's in Chicago makes a batch of Irish stew. Among the ingredients in her stew is beef and Guinness.  (Photo by Bob Fila/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Kitchen teams usually follow a strict hierarchy. Getty Images

This is entry level role for a chef, and for many their first job in a kitchen.

Commis chefs are expected to assist with food preparation, cook, clean and deal with deliveries, as instructed by the chef de partie.

Chef de partie: Dh4,000 - Dh5,000

Restaurant and hotel kitchens are very hierarchical, and a chef de partie – or line cook – is responsible for a specific area of food production, for example the cooking of the fish.

In large kitchens, each chef de partie might have several assistants, but it is more likely they are working alone with occasional assistance from a commis chef.

The role involves pre-preparing ingredients for the service, ensuring there are enough supplies and preparing menus in collaboration with senior colleagues.

A culinary school diploma is normally needed to go straight into this role, but kitchen staff often work their way up the ladder.

Sous chef: Dh10,000 - Dh12,000

A sous chef is second in command in the kitchen, so good managerial skills are considered essential, particularly at a large restaurant or hotel.

Responsibilities include ensuring the kitchen operates in a timely way and customers are served shortly after they order.

Sous chefs also manage and train kitchen staff, and assess their performance, order supplies and help design the menus.

They are also expected to establish working schedules and to enforce sanitation regulations and safety standards.

Most sous chefs hold a degree in culinary science or a related certificate.

Head chef: Dh16,000 - Dh20,000

Head chef. Getty Images
 A head chef can command about Dh20,000 per month. Getty Images

The head chef, as the title implies, is the person in charge of the kitchen. The role requires much more than just being in charge of cooking the food.

Head chefs are responsible for creating the menu and keeping up with current trends in the culinary world.

They are often tasked with looking after purchasing and ensuring that costs do not go over budget.

A head chef’s role also includes managing staff and ensuring high standards are kept throughout the kitchen.

Sommelier: Dh15,000 - Dh20,000

A sommelier is tasked with ensuring a venue has a drinks selection that meets the needs of the customers.

They will require a working knowledge of the latest trends in the drinks industry, as well as being an expert in the traditions of the beverage sector.

Sommeliers are typically tasked with coming up with offerings that contain customer favourites along with the latest trends in the sector.

They could also be called upon to make recommendations for guests who are not sure what drink goes best with each dish on the menu.

Barista: Dh4,000 - Dh5,000

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, October  12, 2020.  Khalidiya by night article by Saeed Saeed on restaurants, café's on Al Yahar Street.  Drips Café barista, Renz Canon prepares a brew.
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Saeed Saeed
The salary of a barista is typically supplemented by tips from customers. Victor Besa / The National    

A barista will be expected to meet and greet customers and take their orders, as well as advising on any requests they have and be ready to make expert recommendations.

They will have to be ready to prepare food and drinks, particularly tea and coffee, to order as well as making sure the displays are up to date and be able to take inventory and update stock as required.