Residents who are considering leaving the UAE because of the high cost of living and stagnant salaries hope to be among those getting a 4.8 per cent pay rise next year, as projected by a study.
The figure comes from The Total Remuneration Study by global consulting firm Mercer and predicts that "most industries" in the Emirates will receive a pay increase in 2019 — with the strongest hike for those in the pharmaceuticals and health care sector.
But residents working in health care say their wages have not increased in almost a decade.
"We, in healthcare, haven't had a pay rise or increment for the past nine years," a senior nurse from the UK, who works for a large hospital in Abu Dhabi, wrote on The National's Facebook page.
“Instead, there have been cuts to the benefits package overall.”
She said a lack of salary increase combined with rising school fees had caused some of her colleagues to leave the UAE altogether, and a number of families being split in search of cheaper tuition fees.
“A lot of staff are still here but have sent their children home to study,” she said.
Another reader claimed she had not received a pay rise in seven years, when she joined her current company. She has taken to spending on her credit card to fund her lifestyle.
“You cut going out for dinner and buying fancy clothes but there are some basic supplies you still need,” said the Iranian woman, 44, who has lived in the UAE for 15 years.
“You could see a difference in the inflation but this year it is unbelievably massive.”
She said the costs associated with her three pet dogs, such as food and vet bills, have rocketed.
She has repeatedly asked for a salary increase in the past five years, only to be laughed off. None of her colleagues have been given raises either.
“If it gets to a point where I cannot survive it, I won’t have any other choice than to leave. You don’t want to be here and be chased by the banks for debt,” she said.
“I have seen bad things that have happened here to senior managers who have lost their jobs and can’t pay their bills or credit card payments. I don’t want to end up in a situation like that.”
UAE employees can expect a 4.8 per cent pay rise next year
A fifth of UAE expatriates doubled their salary when they relocated
The Mercer study found only 3 per cent of the companies imposed salary freezes in 2018 compared to 10 per cent in 2016.
The study found that, overall, salaries in the UAE increased by 4.5 per cent this year, with the biggest pay rise of 5 per cent awarded to those in the life sciences sector.
For next year, real wage growth (salary increase minus inflation rate) is expected to steadily rise in the region, with the life sciences, consumer goods and high-tech industries, in particular, generating more employment opportunities and salary increases, the report said.