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Salaries and wages in Dubai

Monday 18 February 2019 (UAE)   

Average salaries and wages in Dubai and UAE

Table of average wages and salary ranges for jobs in Dubai. Similar pay scales and wages paid in Abu Dhabi companies and jobs (or higher), similar or lower in other emirates. All salary figures are monthly in UAE dirhams (AED) (3.67 dhs = US$1). Actual amount will depend on qualifications, experience, employee nationality, employment history, employer mood, and other random factors. Suggest corrections or additional professions and salary ranges in the UAE salaries forum topic. Comments about nationality and qualifications are not intended to be opinions, judgements, or moral statements of what is good or bad, but observations of how it is. There are exceptions to the generalisations also.

  • Some job titles have a large salary range (highest is 5x-10x lowest) - generally that means Emirati, GCC, and Western nationals (or possibly those holding Western qualifications if relevant) will be more likely to earn the top end salaries, whilst Asians, Africans, and Middle East (not GCC) nationalities will be paid low-range salaries. Some will view this as racist, and others will view it as reflecting education, experience, work ethic, and other generalizations. What matters to you personally is the minimum that your company thinks they can get away with paying you, and whilst you can't easily change your nationality, you can change your qualifications, your experience, how you present yourself, etc.
  • Job titles which have a smaller salary range (highest is 1x-3x lowest) are more likely to pay dependent on experience and qualifications, sometimes size of company, and less dependent on nationality. However, nationality might be a factor in determining whether or not a person actually gets hired for the higher paying jobs (this usually won't be made clear in job advertisements or interviews, and is more likely in small companies which don't have a human resources department).
Job title 2005 2006-2007 2008-2009 2010-2011 2012-2013 2014
  AED, monthly AED, monthly AED, monthly AED, monthly AED, monthly AED, monthly
Abra driver   700        
Accountant   3,000-10,000   3,000-15,000   3,000-20,000
Air Hostess - see Cabin Crew            
Airline Pilot (Captain) 25,000-35,000     30,000-45,000   30,000-50,000
Airline Pilot (First Officer) 15,000-25,000     20,000-30,000    
Bank - management 8000-25,000 10,000-30,000 15,000-40,000 15,000-50,000    
Bank - teller         5,000-12,000  
Bar Manager       5,000-15,000   5,000-25,000
Bus driver - Indian school           1,500-2,500
Carpenter   1000-4000        
Cashier         1,000-5,000  
Cashier, supermarket       1,000-2,500    
Cabin Crew 4,000-7,000 4,000-8,000 5,000-10,000 5,000-11,000   7,000-14,000
CEO, small company 15,000-30,000 15,000-35,000 15,000-50,000 15,000-40,000    
CEO, large company   50,000-100,000 50,000-150,000 50,000-150,000    
CEO, banking sector       100,000-150,000    
CEO construction industry       60,000-150,000    
Cleaner           800-1,300
Construction worker 500-1000 500-1000 500-1500 500-1500    
Cook, Chef       1,000-10,000    
Country Head (banking)       130,000-170,000    
Customer Service Agent       3,000-10,000    
Doctor 15,000-50,000 15,000-60,000 15,000-75,000 15,000-75,000    
Driver 1000-2000 1000-2000 1000-2000 1000-2500    
Editor, newspaper       10,000-75,000    
Electrician   1500-5000        
Engineer           8,000-30,000
Engineer, Civil       10,000-75,000    
Executive Assistant           15,000-25,000
Flight Attendant - see Cabin Crew            
Front Desk Staff (hotels)       5,000-15,000    
Gardener 500-1500 500-1500 500-1500 500-1500    
General Manager (hospitality)       25,000-45,000    
Instructor (tertiary level)         6,000-25,000  
Investment Banker   50,000-100,000 50,000-100,000 should be zero    
IT - too vague, wide range         3,000-50,000+  
Kindergarten Supervisor (Indian)       5,000    
Kindergarten Supervisor (Western)           12,000-20,000
Kindergarten Teacher see Nursery School Teacher entry
Laborer 500-1000 500-1000 500-1200 600-1500   600-1500
Lawyer     25,000-200,000      
Maid, Nanny2 700-2000 700-2000 700-2000 700-2500   700-3000
Manager, mid-level 5000-15,000 5000-20,000 5000-20,000 5000-30,000    
Manager, senior 8000-25,000 8000-30,000 10,000-40,000 10,000-50,000    
Nurse 2,500-8,000 2,500-10,000 2,500-10,000 2,500-10,000 2,500-15,000  
Nurse - Nursery, Preschool       2,500-5,000    
Nursery School Director, Manager       10,000-20,000    
Nursery School Teacher   1,000-5,000   1,000-8,000   1,000-10,000
Nursery Teaching Assistant       2,000-3,000    
Office Manager           8,000-16,000
Office Worker 2000-5000 2000-5000 2000-6000 2000-6000 1500-7000  
Personal Assistant (PA) 2,000-10,000 2,000-15,000 2,000-20,000 2,000-25,000   2,000-25,000
Pharmacist       5,000-8,000 6,000-9,000  
Pilot - see Airline Pilot            
PRO   2000-10,000        
Product Officer (banking)       10,000-20,000    
Professional1 5,000-40,000 5,000-50,000 5,000-60,000 5,000-40,000    
Project Manager 10,000-30,000 10,000-50,000 10,000-60,000 10,000-50,000   12,000-75,000
Quantity Surveyor (junior)       10,000-14,000    
Receptionist 2000-5000 2000-6000 2500-8000 2500-8000    
Receptionist, bilingual       10,000-15,000    
Reporter, newspaper       10,000-25,000    
Research Assistant           8,000-12,000
Restaurant Manager   3,000-10,000   5,000-15,000    
Sales, commercial           5,000-25,000
Sales assistant, shop           1,500-2,500
Sales supervisor, supermarket       1,500-2,500    
School Headmaster (Indian School)       6,000-10,000 7,000-15,000 7,000-12,000
School Principal (expensive school) 20,000-30,000 20,000-30,000   25,000-40,000   25,000-45,000
Secretary - see Receptionist            
Security Guard 1000-1500 1000-1500 1000-2000 1000-2000 1000-2000  
Shop Assistant 1000-3000 1000-3000 1000-4000 1000-4000    
Taxi Driver 1000-3000 1000-3000 1000-6000 1000-4000    
Teacher, Indian school 1,500-5,000 1,500-5,000 1,500-5,000 1,500-5,000 1,500-5,000  
Teacher, Emirati, government school           24,000-34,0003
Teacher, expat, government school 2,000-6,000 2,000-6,000 2,000-6,000 2,000-6,000    
Teacher, expat, PPP school Abu Dhabi     5,000-20,000 5,000-20,000    
Teacher, preschool, kindergarten see Nursery School Teacher entry
Teacher, university 3,000-16,000 3,000-18,000 3,000-20,000 3,000-22,000   5,000-30,000
Teacher, western school 4,000-15,000 5,000-18,000 5,000-20,000 5,000-22,000    
Teaching Assistant (TA)       2,000-4,000    
Technician, Etisalat 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000    
Technology - too vague, see IT            
Telesales and Marketing       3,000-10,000    
Waiter, Waitress 1,000-3,000 1,000-4,000 1,000-5,000 1,000-5,000 1,000-5,000  
Window cleaner (Burj Khalifa)           2,2004
  1. Professional means a profession for which a higher level qualification is required, e.g. lawyer, architect, engineer, etc. Salary range is for those employed by a company. Professionals who work for themselves can earn between 0 (or less until going bust) and $lot$ per month (>100k is possible).
  2. Minimum salaries for maids set by the respective governments of the country they come from are: Bangladesh AED 750, India AED 1,100, Indonesia AED 800, Philippines AED 1,400, Sri Lanka AED 850 (figures not confirmed). It's not clear if these minimum salaries are supported by labour law in the UAE. Some maids are paid less than the minimum.
  3. Public school teacher salaries in Abu Dhabi - comment by teacher ("I used to get Dh24,000. Now I’m getting Dh34,000 ...") reported 06 Feb 2014 (The National), not confirmed.
  4. CNN report 22 Feb 2014.
  • Real Estate brokers are not included since the range is so variable as to be meaningless. Many were easily earnings tens of thousands of dirhams per month at the height of the property boom in 2007-2008, some were earning AED 100,000s per month, and even more if they were trading properties themselves. At the end of 2008 and into 2009 as the Dubai property market crashed and burned, they're probably the same ones we saw in a report of ex-property brokers in jobs such as offering private taxi services so they could scrape by and earn enough money to feed themselves.
  • Some salaries for new employment categories for 2010 based on Gulf News / Charterhouse report 06 February 2010. Others based on vacancies advertised in the press, online, or with recruitment agencies in the UAE.
Salary surveys Abu Dhabi, Dubai, UAE, Middle East
  • Macdonald and Company, a property recruitment specialist, released their 4th annual 'Middle East Salary Survey' of over 1000 property industry employees at Cityscape Global 2010 in Dubai with an average base salary of real estate professional in the ME region of AED 38,351 per month (AED 37,980 in 2009) (press release 04 October 2010).
Salaries and Nationalities in the UAE

Salaries can vary substantially amongst different nationalities and appear to depend on nationality. Many jobs are are qualification dependent, and for some professions, western qualifications are regarded as worth more than non-western qualifications resulting in higher salaries for westerners or western trained employees. Another factor is that the salary level is not necessarily determined by the nationality but by the demand-supply equation for the job markets - some jobs attract less interest from some nationalities because of the high workload and/or low salary level - often nationalities that have more options because of a better (perceived) reputation, and/or coming from a better (perceived) education system. And sometimes the salary might just be dependent on passport and/or DNA of the job applicant.

Average salaries for men are higher than for woman according to various surveys, but that might be the result of a greater proportion of men in higher paying jobs distorting comparisons rather than men getting paid more because of their gender or genes.

If there is wage discrimination based on nationality, assume the range will decrease in this order, with the top paid nationalities getting 2 or 3 times as much as the bottom paid nationalities for the same job. The order of list is not set in stone, there will be some overlap and some fluctuation depending on various factors, especially between groups 3 and 4.

  1. Westerners (Europe, North America, Australasia) and GCC Arabs will be paid the most.
  2. Japan, South Korea, and Singapore nationals are paid similar to Westerners.
  3. South Africa, Eastern Europe, Russia, Taiwan, Central and South America, and non-GCC Arabs.
  4. Philippines, Thailand, China and other Asian countries but not sub-continent; and non-GCC Arabs.
  5. India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Africa (except for South Africa and the MENA region).
Jobs and salaries in Dubai and UAE

There is a range of Dubai jobs much the same as in any city but a larger range of incomes than many expats are familiar with for several reasons. Apart from teachers and maids, there is no minimum salary so market forces determine a fair (or unfair wage). As the UAE, and Dubai in particular, has a mixture of nationalities, market rates tend to be governed by what is enough to lure foreign nationals away from their home country, not what is a fair wage relative to what others are earning for the same work in the UAE. Hence Indian teachers end up getting paid a tenth of what Western teachers do, and manual laborers and maids are paid what seems to be a pittance in the eyes of patronising Western journalists (who cleverly demonstrate their ignorance of basic economics), but is a kings ransom in the eyes of all their compatriots lining up at home trying to get a visa to come and work in the UAE. That comment isn't intended to dismiss the very real difficulties facing the working class in the UAE but there are other issues that are more important than the actual salary level - the non-payment of wages for months at a time, the extortionate fees charged in their home country to bring them to the UAE, the difficult living conditions in some of the camps, the harsh and unsafe working conditions on some of the construction sites.

  • Manual labor type jobs are demanding and poorly paid. By poorly paid we mean relative to other job sectors in the UAE, not relative to pay levels for the same job in other countries - for example a salary of 1000 dhs per month can be 10x the salary or as little as a tenth of the salary for the same job in other countries. Most workers in this type of employment in Dubai come from the Asian sub-continent, especially India and Pakistan. It is not uncommon to work 12 hours per day 7 days per week. A critical Human Rights Watch (HRW) report from 11 November 2006 ("Building Towers, Cheating Workers") about the UAE construction industry claimed wages as low as 370 dhs per month were being paid.
  • Maids, nannies, drivers, gardeners, security guards work long hours, six or seven days a week, and are poorly paid (security guards usually get more). There's supposed to be a minimum wage of 700 dhs/mth for Filipino and Indonesian maids according to agreements signed between the UAE and their respective governments in mid-2006. Updated to salaries of AED 570-1,400 per month in later years (not confirmed)?
  • Tourism related and service sector jobs are relatively poorly paid and quite demanding. Most people working in these jobs come from Asia especially the Philippines. Some sectors, for example aircrew, have all nationalities represented, and working conditions and salaries are much better.
  • The nursing sector also seems to attract many Filipinas. The work is demanding and not so well paid.
  • Taxi drivers can earn 400 dhs in an eight hour day according to Dubai Transport in 2006. But according to reports from taxi drivers, they earn less than that, and it takes 12+ hours a day. Drivers receive a percentage of their daily takings as income (30% to 40%) which works out to 1000-3000 dhs monthly.
  • Secretaries and Receptionists will earn low wages for long hours. Upgrade to a PA (Personal Assistant) for the boss of a large company and salary becomes more attractive, especially if you're fluent in English and Arabic. Substantial salaries, on a par with other professionals, are possible in some cases.
  • Middle management are usually Asian - especially Indian, or expat Arab. Pay can be mediocre to reasonable or even better for well trained executives in large corporations.
  • Teaching, curiously, is one of the few professions with a minimum wage requirement of 2000 dhs/mth (not always adhered to though). Salaries in government or Indian schools are 1500-4000 dhs per month. English curriculum and other western oriented private schools have salaries of 5,000-15,000 dhs per month and a handful of the better ones pay up to 20,000 dhs per month or more. Salary sometimes varies in the same school depending on the nationality of the teacher (passport rather than DNA is the main factor although where the teaching qualification came from can make a difference - western ones being worth more).
  • Professionals such as architects, lawyers, accountants, pilots, teachers, are represented by all nationalities but the more reputable companies and higher level jobs usually require western trained personnel. Salaries range from poor to very good.
  • Doctors are a variety of nationalities and usually western trained. Salaries mediocre to good depending on the hospital/clinic and nationality of the doctor (or where s/he trained).
  • Project Managers or Directors were able to command ever increasing salaries during 2006-2008 and the building boom boomed, but going into 2009 the demand supply equation reversed. They're not quite at the level of paying their employer to be allowed to keep their jobs but many are sweating, even in their a/c chilled offices.
  • Senior management tend to be western or UAE nationals and these jobs are well-paid but are usually demanding (it's the board of directors and executives that play golf, not the foremen and managers).
  • CEOs and Managing Directors for large companies usually get very well paid but even top level management for smaller companies should be on a decent wicket.
  • Private investment bankers were getting an average of 80,000-90,000 dhs per month according to a 2007 survey by Dunn Consultancy. And probably more in 2008. Now you know why your pension fund evaporated. Whatever they're getting in the aftermath of the financial burnout of 2008 and 2009 is bound to be far too much.

Add a comment to the Dubai salaries topic in the forum, or contact us, if you think this information is incomplete and/or inaccurate, or even just to send a tirade of abuse if you're an investment banker or western journalist.

Salaries and Benefits - transport, housing, medical, travel, pension, tax

Benefits can include company housing, housing paid for by the company but found yourself, a housing allowance (usually not enough to find something suitable), a car or transport allowance, private medical insurance - check carefully who with and the terms and conditions, and a yearly or more frequent return ticket to your home country (or sometimes cash in lieu of a ticket).

A gratuity is paid at the end of employment and depends on various factors. The law specifies a certain minimum but your own contract can improve on that. Not everyone is automatically entitled to a gratuity - it depends on the type of contract (fixed term or unlimited) and under what circumstances you terminate your employment. It is intended to compensate for the lack of a pension for expatriates (there is one, but only for UAE nationals).

There is no income tax in the UAE, although occasionally the possibility is discussed. It's unlikely to happen in the near future, and very unlikely unless somewhere like Saudi Arabia considers it seriously. Depending on where you come from, and how long you stay in your Dubai job, you may have to pay tax in your home country. Every country is different and you should speak to either your tax department or a tax lawyer/accountant to get definitive information.

Salary increases in the UAE
  • 24 Feb 2015 - Sharjah government employees minimum salary to be AED 11,000 per month. Minimum pension payment for retired workers raised from AED 10,000 to AED 11,000 per month (WAM). Minimums apply only to Emirati nationals, not foreign expats.
  • 17 Dec 2013 - Dubai Government Human Resources Department announced 30%-100% pay rises for public employees, backdated to 30 Jun 2013.
    • 100% increase up to a maximum of AED 25,000 per month for doctors, financial auditors, financial controllers.
    • 50% increase to a maximum of AED 10,000 per month for employees at the Dubai Ruler's Court, engineers, financial planners, internal auditors, investment managers, legal advisors, university teachers, and some other unspecified categories.
    • 30% increase to a maximum AED 6,000 for accountants, emergency medicine technicians, nursing pharmacists, paramedics, and other unspecified jobs in customs, environment, health, and public safety positions.
    • 25% additional allowance for night shift workers.
  • 12 Jun 2012 (E247) assistant teacher below AED 8,000, school teacher AED 10,000-20,000 (Taleem), school teacher AED 3,500-16,000 average AED 9,750 (bayt.com), primary or secondary headteacher AED 22,000-25,000, school principal AED 35,000+, Indian school teacher AED 1,500-2,400, international school teacher AED 3,000-8,000
  • 10 Jun 2012 (E247) - nursery teacher AED 3,500, teacher Arab school AED 2,000, teacher British school AED 8,000-14,000, teacher Asian school AED 1,350-2,000;
  • 26 Apr 2012 (E247) - secretaries AED 6,843 and administrative assistants AED7,179 average salaries (bayt.com).
  • 19 Mar 2012 (E247) - Emirates pilots AED 41,240 (Captain), AED 29,145 (First Officer) for 85 hrs flight time. Cabin Crew (EK) AED 8,420-9,520 (80-100 hrs flight time).
Last update Wednesday 25-Feb-2015
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