Dubai salaries: Do you get paid enough in Dubai?

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  • Salary ranges for roles in Dubai are often difficult to pinpoint.
  • It’s important to be well-informed before sealing the deal.
  • We cover key trends affecting the current hiring landscape and some insight into actual salaries per industry.

Today, the cost of living in big cities is much higher than it used to be. To feel comfortable living in Dubai, financially speaking, you definitely need a stable job that provides a decent income. And wherever you choose to live in the world, you need to work really hard to earn your bucks. The salary system in Dubai is quite intricate, and securing an employment contract after negotiating for a salary you believe you deserve can be quite of a rollercoaster ride.

Things are pretty much vague in the early stages of looking for a job, even after locking rounds of interviews. Often, recruitment sites seldom mention salaries in job descriptions. Even if you’re lucky enough to see the golden digits appear at the bottom of an advertised role online, it is not always clear what benefits/allowances that salary includes, and you never know what skills and qualifications are in-demand and currently highly paid so that you can tailor your search.

It’s important that those looking for a job in Dubai are well-equipped before securing the position they want with the salary they deserve. And by being well-equipped, we primarily mean being well-informed on the subject.

good salaries in dubai

To start with and to put it just, the most recent average salary in Dubai is AED 140,158 according to

Dubai’s most popular occupations’ Median Salaries (according to

Accountant: AED 69,783

Civil Engineer: AED 97,007

Mechanical Engineer: AED 97,889

Key trends affecting the hiring landscape in 2018 according to Robert Half’s 2018 salary guide:

  • The new VAT regime
  • A surge in new small and medium-sized enterprises (with 94% of all UAE businesses being SMEs)
  • Expo 2020 which is expected to bring a plethora of new roles to the travel, tourism, and hospitality industries

Trends per industry according to Robert Half’s 2018 salary guide (not all sectors figure below):

Accounting and Finance

Most in-demand candidates:

  • Those with five to eight years of industry-specific experience
  • Those who are skilled in automation

Skills and qualifications in demand:

  • Internationally recognized qualifications (ACA/ACCA/CA/CFA/CIMA/CPA)
  • Financial planning and analysis
  • ERP skills (SAP and Oracle)
  • Cash management
  • Macro-level Excel expertise
  • Effective communication (Arabic speaking)

Roles that are highly in demand:

  • Chief financial officers
  • Tax accountants/managers
  • Financial planning and analysis analysts
  • Treasury directors/managers

A sample of average yearly salaries within the industry (figures originally in USD):

CFO: AED 780,400 to AED 2,223,000
Finance Director: AED 660,300 to AED 1,479,300
Financial Controller: AED 540,600 to AED 750,300
Credit Controller: AED 191,700 to AED 264,400
Financial Analyst: AED 216,300 to AED 360,000
Internal Auditor: AED 212,300 to AED 300,400


As per the 2018 report, technology professionals should consider the full remuneration package when looking for new opportunities, as salaries within the technology hiring landscape have reached a steady plateau and are no longer at the same premium they achieved in previous years.

Skills and qualifications in demand:

  • E-commerce expertise
  • Data analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Programming languages

Roles in demand:

  • Program managers
  • Business analysts
  • App support developers

A sample of average yearly salaries within the industry (figures originally in USD):

Chief Information Officer (CIO): AED 840,600 to AED 1,441,100
Chief Technology Officer (CTO): AED 855,700 to AED 1,368,400
Chief Digital Officer: AED 624,300 to AED 960,700
Data Analyst: AED 191,000 to AED 336,400
Business Systems Analyst: AED 204,200 to AED 370,600
Technical Support Specialist: AED 193,500 to AED 307,800

Human resources and administration

The report states that senior-level administration and office support positions are currently in high demand, especially those professionals that have proven experience from top-tier financial services firms.

Skills and qualifications in demand:

  • CIPD certified
  • Arabic speaking
  • Change management expertise

Roles in demand:

  • Heads of HR
  • HR business partners
  • Executive/personal assistants
  • Office managers
  • Receptionists

A sample of average yearly salaries within the industry (figures originally in USD):

HR Director: AED 600,500 to AED 936,500
Head of HR: AED 420,100 to AED 471,900
HR Officer: AED 112,700 to AED 127,400
Head of Recruitment: AED 464,600 to AED 480,400
Recruitment Specialist: AED 170,800 to AED 180,000
Executive Assistant: AED 194,600 to AED 216,300


According to the report, there is high demand for lawyers with exposure to compliance and regulatory matters. And on average, UAE businesses are looking to increase lawyers’ salaries by 5% shortly, with bonuses accounting for approximately 10% of the overall remuneration package. The highest salaries within the legal profession go to those with bilingual abilities and Western education.

Skills and qualifications in demand:

  • Western-educated with GCC experience
  • Arabic drafting expertise
  • Effective English communication skills
  • ACII

Roles in demand:

  • In-house corporate and compliance legal counsel
  • Transactional associates (mid to senior level)
  • Project lawyers (mid to senior level)

A sample of average yearly salaries within the industry (figures originally in USD):

Chief Legal Officer/Head of Legal/General Counsel: AED 900,500 to AED 1,561,200
Regional Legal Counsel: AED 780,400 to AED 840,600
Legal Counsel 6-9 years’ experience: AED 600,500 to AED 810,500
Legal Counsel 3-5 years’ experience: AED 324,300 to AED 570,300
Legal Counsel 0-2 years’ experience: AED 240,200 to AED 360,300
Paralegal: AED 234,300 to AED 336,400

Here are some aspects to consider before snatching an offer:

Job hunting

If you currently reside in Dubai, we highly recommend you physically go to the firms and personally hand your CV. You will give a better impression which ultimately may lead to a better offer.

Salary negotiation

This is likely to be the toughest part. How you approach, it is key. Your salary will depend on your bargaining power and always ask for as much as possible, because the salary range in which an employer claims to be confined can quickly take a different course, to your favor, of course. Also, possessing extra skills such as being good with 3D or presenting can earn you more monthly bucks in your basic salary.


Unless you are quite senior, we confidently ask you to ditch your high expectations when it comes to accommodation. You can expect a few weeks accommodation at a hotel by the time you look for your apartment to rent, but that’s about it. One of the most significant expenses in Dubai is rent, and because rental costs are high, and you have to pay at least ¼ to ½ of a year’s rent upfront, most employers do help with offering advanced payments so that you can cover your initial rent by the time you’re fully financially settled.

Approximate cost of a one-bedroom apartment:

AED 6,600 to AED 7,300 per month including electricity and water, chiller, internet and TV bills (but sharing is always cheaper)

And last but not least, the raw truths:

  • While many jobs are qualification dependent, it’s important to note that salaries can vary substantially amongst different nationalities. But regardless of your ethnicity or race, employers in Dubai tend to favor those with western qualifications and therefore offer them higher salaries.
  • According to various surveys, average wages for men in Dubai are higher than for women. But it might only be because there is naturally a greater proportion of men working in higher paying jobs.



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