The Middle East Job Market Update

The Middle East Job Market Update

If you are a Western expatriate working in the Gulf or looking to relocate, it’s one of the best times to be in the region. The latest salary surveys in the region show that average salaries for mid-level management are in the range of $140 thousand USD per annum. The amount, of course, covers the fully array of jobs categories, from approximately $60K USD for the PA/ Executive Secretary level to $420K USD at the CEO/ MD level, and job roles spanning those in finance, real estate, and media.

The survey also found that westerners, enjoy a distinct advantage over Asians and Arab nationals in the UAE, drawing salaries up to 26% higher than the former, and 15.7% higher than the latter.


Dubai: The place to be

Of the seven Emirates, Dubai remains the favorite destination of expats. This year, Dubai clinched the top rank in the Global Lifestyle Review report by Knight Frank. The emirate’s education services and superior climate, along with an abundance of leisure pursuits and top-quality restaurants, helped it achieve the top accolade.

Aside from lifestyle benefits, hard economic figures consolidate Dubai’s success story. Over the first quarter of this year, Dubai’s GDP grew by 4.1% and is expected to have grown by 4.7% during the second quarter. Finance, transport, real estate, wholesale and retail trade, construction and manufacturing are all looking up, fueling steady growth even in the face of a global economic slowdown.

Over the past three years, oil revenues in Dubai have grown by almost 40%, and tourism has boomed, with the result that hotels are witnessing occupancy rates of 90% and the Emirate is all set to welcome 4.66 million visitors during the next Dubai Shopping Festival.

Source: ‘Dubai Economic Outlook (DEO) Q1-2013’ report issued by the Dubai Economic Council.

Best Companies to Work For

Every year, the UAE-based Great Place to Work ® Institute surveys the top companies to work for, and their 2013 list includes familiar names such as Microsoft Gulf, Marriott, FedEx, DHL, Ericsson, Omnicom Media, PepsiCo, Securities and Commodities Authority, Merck Serono, General Electric, Mondelēz International. For the complete list and to view previous years’ lists, visit

For positions within such prime organisations, salaries can vary and range from 24k dirham  (AED) per month for a Project Manager based in the UAE , followed by Sales Managers at 18K, Project Engineers at 13K, Sales Executives and Accountants at approximately 7.5K (according to

Salary Increase: 4% Across All Sectors

From 2012 to 2013, salary growth was acheived in most sectors. However, the Finance and Accounting, HR, Technology and Legal domains saw the greatest level of growth.

If you’re a Paralegal, you could expect to earn 3.1% more this year in the UAE, as compared to last year. At the upper end of the scale, someone at the Regional Legal Counsel level would draw 5.3% more.

Technology jobs fared even better, with Security Engineers’ salaries growing by 7.2%, while the lowest increase in this sector was seen for the Tech Support profiles, with salary growth of 3.9% over last year.

In HR roles, the increase remained fairly consistent, ranging from 4.1% to 6.1% for all profiles.

But the real action was seen in the Finance and Accounting, and Financial Services profiles, with both seeing increases of up to 7% (for Credit Risk Analyst profiles) and 7.6% at the Compliance Director levels.

At a minimum, salaries rose by approximately 4% across industries, across the board.

Skills in demand: Focus on Finance and Tech

With 85% of finance leaders concerned about losing their top performers to competitors in the next year, this is a good time to be in finance, in the UAE. Technical roles in financial services, risk and compliance are in high demand, and companies are seeking candidates from the UK and Europe to fill these roles.

Vacancies exist in Risk Management, Credit Analysis, Compliance, Private, Retail and Corporate Banking. Senior managers would do well to seek roles in Investment Banking or Equity, to fill openings right from the Executive Director/ Managing Director level down to the Analyst/ Associate level.

In Technology and IT, just about every role is in demand, from that of CIO/ CTO to IT Director, to Business Analyst, ERP Manager, System or Database Administrator, and more. Same is the case with HR and Legal job profiles.

What to expect when you’re an expat: Relocation

For expatriates, there has been some change in the style – rather than the substance – of remuneration that companies offer. The relocation and housing allowance that was once on offer has now been incorporated into your base salary. Only about 28% of companies now call out this expense as a separate line item, while the rest simply include it in your pay package.

Hiring volume has risen but you might have to face multiple interview rounds, and wait for sign-offs from senior managers before you get that job offer from the UAE.


There are certainly opportunities available in the region and it seems the time is right to take advantage of the lifestyle and monetary benefits that it has to offer. We’ll be sure to keep you updated with the movements and outlook for Q1 2014 and can only predict that the region, particularly the UAE will continue to flourish and provide a perfect expatriate climate for you and your family.


  1. ANIRUDDHA KALE October 24, 2013 at 9:13 am

    Nice and informative release. May be usefull to everybody those who are trying to re locate.

  2. Cathy Gaither December 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    Thank for the informative update,it has given me great insight.

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