Expat Salaries Lagging UAE Inflation

Lisa Smith, BA (Hons), CeFA

Expat salaries in the United Arab Emirates are lagging behind the cost of living, according to a new report.

Average salaries for professionals are increasing at about half the rate of inflation, says a study by regional recruitment specialists Robert Half.

The report looks at remuneration and recruitment trends in the Gulf State across a range of white collar jobs, such as roles in finance, IT, the law, human resources and administration.

The conclusion was the call for workers with specialist skills exceeded the number of professionals available to fill the jobs.

Local companies were also hampered by improving job prospects and pay in the UK and USA, which stemmed the flow of expats to the UAE.

Search for talent

The search for talent was further dented by salaries rising at 2% or less, while inflation increased by 3.1% during the year.

At the same time as the supply of skilled professionals ebbed, local companies are desperate to expand.

More than 40% of chief executives told the recruitment firm that they had plans to take on staff in the coming months.

Many have decided to increase salaries by around 6%, while 27% will enhance bonuses – but just over half plan to leave salaries as they are.

Financial services is one of the fastest growing sectors as new firms move into the region and existing ones grow by taking on more staff.

Expats staying at home

Technology start-ups are also paying competitive salaries to attract IT talent in another of the UAE economy’s fastest growing sectors.

Human resources is also suffering from a talent shortage as more businesses startup and increase the demand for HR professionals to find and manage staff.

“Our research disclosed that despite high demand for skilled professionals who are in short supply, many companies are offering modest remuneration and are discovering they are being shunned by the top talent they need to fill critical roles,” said the report.

“Traditionally businesses relied on expats to fill these roles, but the global economy has changed and many potential job candidates are deciding to stay at home or look elsewhere as job prospects have improved, especially in America and Britain.

“Companies are working hard to fill their vacancies with remote interviews and offering relocation packages to attract the talent they need, but they still need to find a way of attracting even more professionals to the region.”

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