2022 Salary Guide: What are the recruitment trends affecting the UAE?

By Robert Half on 2nd November 2021

While Dubai has long been recognised as a global hub for business, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) now stands at the precipice of a predicted five-year growth phase, driven by a commitment to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the region.

However, the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic means that many businesses have lost the support of expat talent that they had come to rely on, while others have been forced to restructure to save money – and now the race for talent is one.

Our 2022 Salary Guide identifies the key trends in hiring and recruitment with helpful insights for business decision makers, as well as providing starting salaries for more than 150 jobs in the accounting, financial services, technology, HR and legal sectors.

What are the main trends you need to know?

  1. Newly created roles are driving competition for talent with hybrid skills
    Businesses are now hiring into vacant roles after drastically reducing headcount at the start of the pandemic, but the roles have evolved due to restructuring efforts. Now, businesses are at war over-qualified expat talent with in-demand blended skill-sets.
  2. Dubai is becoming a long-term living destination, despite cost-of-living increases
    The average stay for expat professionals is now between eight and ten years in comparison to just three years a decade ago. This is largely thanks to new laws and initiatives designed to benefit foreigners, such as 100% foreign ownership, which has seen new companies and entrepreneurs flood into the region.
  3. Salaries and benefits in the UAE are losing their competitive edge
    Average salaries in the UAE may have increased by 4 per cent over the past 12 months, but this sits below the average 11 per cent increase in the UK, a prime source of expat talent. While salaries in the UAE remain higher than those in the UK, Europe and Australia, limited increases combined with the rising cost of living in the UAE means the region is not as attractive as it once was.
  4. Increasing salaries might not be enough to tempt the brightest talent
    Qualified candidates are consistently receiving multiple offers from potential employers, so businesses need to be prepared to compete on salaries and benefits - but candidates are increasingly interested in sharing values with the organisation they will be working for. Moving fast during the recruitment process can also increase the likelihood of securing the best talent.
  5. Hybrid working goes head-to-head with company culture
    Remote and flexible working is now the most commonly requested benefit across all sectors. While multinational companies are happy to facilitate remote working for employees, especially in finance and accounting, some smaller local SMEs have been more resistant, which impacts their attractiveness to potential new hires.

    However, as in Europe, hybrid working is raising concerns about how to preserve corporate culture and staff retention, so it is important for businesses to focus on team collaboration and invest in wellbeing initiatives – rather than restricting flexibility.


Our 2022 Salary Guide is packed full of trends and insights just like these, covering national insights, trends for specific sectors, and the need-to-know information about perks and benefits. You can also find average starting salaries for more than 150 roles – simply select the role you are recruiting or applying for to find the numbers you need.

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