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Sun 25 Sep 2011 12:34 PM

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Emirati graduates earn 80% more than expats

Battle for UAE recruits amid nationalization quotas send salaries soaring

Emirati graduates earn 80% more than expats
Non-graduate UAE nationals are paid 33% more than the general market

battle to hire UAE employees is sending average salaries soaring, a report said
Sunday, with Emirati graduates commanding salaries up to 80 percent higher than
their expat counterparts.

by Hay Group found companies are bolstering wage packets in a bid to attract
qualified Emirati talent, as nationalization quotas begin to squeeze hiring

the demand and supply. There are not enough nationals to fill the roles for
particular sectors such as financial services, public sector or even some of
the family conglomerates that are going down the emiratisation route,” said Vijay
Gandhi from Hay Group.

At a non-graduate level, UAE nationals are paid 33 percent more than the general market.

“[It is]
80 percent at the graduate entry level but, as Emiratis get to management and
executive level, there are virtually no differentials.”

The UAE,
which depends on foreign workers to fill jobs, is ramping up its emiratisation
drive as the public sector struggles to keep pace with job demand.

are 35,000 unemployed Emiratis in the UAE, and only seven percent of nationals
work in the private sector, according to statistics from the Ministry of

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice-president of the UAE, said Sunday that
emiratisation remained a key priority to be tackled by the government.

was “a national responsibility” to achieve “the aspirations of the people of
the UAE and ensuring their welfare and decent living,” he said in a statement
by state news agency WAM.  

in the oil-rich Gulf country hired 12,000 more staff in the twelve months to September,
compared to the same period a year earlier, said Hay Group. Average salaries
during the period rose five percent, the report said.

report forecast that wages could rise up to 5.2 percent across the board over
the next year, but warned that new recruits could expect to receive 6 percent
under the market average.

 “Last year the same percentage was around nine
percent, so what we’re seeing is the hiring rate is going up but it’s still
lower than the average salaries. The situation is much better than last year,”
said Gandhi.

difference in pay gap between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is also narrowing with
employees in the capital now commanding 20 percent more than their counterparts
in neighbouring Dubai compared to 30 percent two years ago.

“This is
largely due to housing allowances in Abu Dhabi, which have stablised as more
accommodation has come online. Housing allowance is now 27 percent higher in
Abu Dhabi than Dubai, compared to 35 percent difference in 2010,” the report said.

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Fletch 8 years ago

“[It’s] the demand and supply,” said Vijay Gandhi from Hay Group. But it also says "There are 35,000 unemployed Emiratis in the UAE."

How can there be a shortage causing wages to go so high if there are 35,000 unemployed sitting about? It must be because there's a shortage of locals with qualifications.

So why aren't the unqualified ones driving cabs, waiting in restaurants or working in shops?

Anil Mathew 8 years ago

The headline is misleading. It should read "Emirati graduates earn 80% more than expats in the UAE"

Trish 8 years ago

The million dollar question....

Rustom 8 years ago

not true....
Next time Mr. Vijay, get facts and numbers....

suad alhalwachi 8 years ago

this is all lies, Poor Emiratis, all they have is this reputation, i have witnessed myself some of them working in companies, and the staff there avoid to give them any information. i have worked personally with a lot of Emiratis and they are all very hard working, companies do not give them jobs because they are worried that they will soon take over the jobs of the expats. and for this reason, all the companies are making it sound difficult to hire emiratis, and make it sound as if the sky is falling because there is shortage in number of graduates. i agree with Fletch above, there are many unemployed emiratis.

Interesting data 8 years ago

Not really surprising, nationality always dictates how much you get paid in the UAE. Would be interested to know how many non nationals manage to get graduate jobs in the UAE though.
The big question is are the individuals really worth the extra 80% pay, a massive over investment if not. UAE nationals do need to also take the lower paid roles, not everyone can be managers, CEOs etc. Skills and experience come from starting at the bottom, not from taking the top job from the outset.

The UAE employers in general are far too rigid & could benefit from learning the highest qualification isn't everything, willingness to learn on the job, gain news skills and being keen to give something a go shows more about a person than just a good grade....who would you rather employ, someone with just a high grade or someone who has taken the time to engage in sports, difference non- academic skills, travelled or done something different to experience life in a variety of situations??

cbg 8 years ago

I do agree with you, but on the other hand, I have seen Emaratis in responsible positions but dont ever take any decisions and leave it to the expats to make decisions on their behalf. They are usually out of the day to day operations and hardly ever make any effort to understand the business issues. So you cant really blame the expats for exploiting this.

The Consultant 8 years ago


As someone who works in consultancy I am familiar with the Hay Group reports and they are based rigorously on facts and figures.

As for the conumdrum of "supply and demand" contrasted with thousands of unemployed Emiratis, I think this is explainable with a bit of refining: firstly, the "demand" is for a certain type of graduate employee and many of the unemployed Emiratis do not fit what these employers are looking for (this is no different to any other country in the world). A second factor is that many of them are registered as unemployed but are holding out for a very specific job (usually something in the government/state-owned sector) and are effectively ruling themselves out of many of these positions. Thus the number of qualified candidates willing to actually take these jobs can in some case be quite limited depending on the specific opportunity.