2014 UAE salary guide: 3.8% pay hikes

Salaries in the UAE and the Middle East are expected to go up by an average of 3.8 per cent next year, according to the just released 2014 salary guide by Robert Half Middle East.

This hike, the recruitment firm says is expected for starting salaries for professional occupations and will vary on the sector and of course the position and the circumstances of an individual.

Any kind of pay hike is welcome, but residents in the UAE say this will not be enough to beat the rising cost of living. Many of them believe it is important to bridge the gap between the cost of living and the salaries.

“It’s not easy to maintain a family and with the ever increasing rents and schooling costs it’s just becoming more difficult,” said Roland Allan, a resident in Dubai.

Last month, a report by professional services firm Towers Watson predicted higher pay hikes.

It said that employees in the UAE can expect an average pay increase of 5 per cent in 2014, adding that inflation will average 2.5 per cent, resulting in an increase in disposable income, or the real pay hike, to the tune of 2.5 per cent.

However, a recent report by Standard Chartered said that it expected inflation in the UAE to pick up to around 4.2 per cent in 2014 as the housing component [39 per cent of the inflation basket] better reflects market conditions.

“If we go by the latest report I believe we will need to spend more in the coming year,” said Viji James, an Indian resident in Dubai.

As per the Robert Half report, people in accounting and finance will have most to cheer about.

They are expected to see the largest gains among all fields researched, with an anticipated 5 per cent increase in the average salary for newly hired workers.

Within the sector, finance managers, management accountants and financial controllers are in demand and qualified accountants will find strong opportunities in the real estate, construction, oil and gas and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industries.

Those in financial services can expect a nominal increase in base pay with professionals seeing a starting salary raise of 2.5 per cent over 2013 levels.

Internal audit, compliance, transactional banking and insurance underwriting are particularly in demand, although skilled professionals remain in short supply. Corporate banking, investment management and insurance sectors are seeing the strongest hiring activity.

Technology will fare better than financial services in terms of pay hikes. The base compensation is expected to increase 4.6 per cent in the coming year.

Project/programme managers are in particularly strong demand, as are techno-functional specialists, managers and consultants and service delivery managers. Engineering, procurement and construction, financial services and pharma/healthcare industries are seeking skilled IT professionals, as are vendor-based technology firms and management consultancies.

Legal will not see much happening on the salary front as starting salaries for in-house and private practice overall are anticipated to rise 2 per cent on an average.

Paralegal, regional legal counsel and mid-level counsel with five to eight years’ post-qualification experience are in demand, particularly as firms are looking to bring more legal functions back in-house. The technology and media, construction, energy and financial services industries are seeing stronger-than-average demand for legal professionals.

Human resources will score even worse than legal. Starting salaries for HR professionals in the Middle East are expecting modest increases, an average of 1.2 per cent in 2014.

Specialists in talent management, learning and development and compensation and benefits as well as HR directors who are CIPD qualified are sought after. The FMCG, professional services, engineering, technology and energy industries are seeing the greatest demand for skilled HR talent.

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