With gross domestic product likely to grow at a slower rate in 2016, you could be forgiven for thinking there’s no hope for salary increases this year. But a majority of UAE respondents in a recent survey think otherwise.

The 2016 Bayt.com Middle East and North Africa Salary Survey, conducted by Bayt.com, the job site, and YouGov, the market research agency, revealed that more than half (55 per cent) of UAE respondents are expecting a salary increase in 2016.

In April, the International Monetary Fund revised the growth outlook for the UAE with the overall real GDP growth moderating to 2.4 per cent in 2016 from 3.9 per cent recorded in 2015.

Current Salary

In the UAE, less than one in five professionals (18 per cent) believe that their salary is competitive with other companies in their industry, while the majority believe that their salary is lower than the industry average (64 per cent). When asked about the industries which offer the highest salaries, oil, gas and petrochemicals (37 per cent), banking and finance (30 per cent) and airline/aviation (29 per cent) emerged at the highest paying industries for UAE respondents.

51 per cent of UAE respondents claim the salary they earn is, at least to some extent, the main driver behind their loyalty to their company, while one-third (32 per cent) claimed their loyalty is not linked to the salary they receive. Besides salary, long-term career advancement opportunities (40 per cent) and line manager (35 per cent) emerged as the most important factors driving employee loyalty in the UAE.

In terms of equal pay, while half (49 per cent) claim they are unaware, the largest proportion (27 per cent) with a point of view believed that  men and women are paid equally for doing the same work.

“This study was especially designed to provide employers with insights into employee satisfaction levels with their salary and raises,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions, Bayt.com.

Promotions and Pay Raises

In 2015, around one in five (21 per cent) respondents in the UAE received a promotion, with two thirds of them (62 per cent) receiving an accompanying salary increase.

Surprisingly, close to half of UAE respondents (46 per cent) disclosed that they have not received a pay raise in 2015 at all, and 30 per cent of those who did were quite dissatisfied with their raise. In fact, only 9 per cent of UAE respondents said their raise was above the inflation rate; 17 per cent said it was in line with the inflation rate, and 52 per cent said the raise they received was below the current rate of inflation.

On the other hand, 36 per cent appear to be very happy or modestly happy with their raise, and 10 per cent believe that the pay raise they received last year was fair in light of their contribution to the company.

As for future expectations, a third (33 per cent) of UAE respondents expect a raise of up to 15 per cent, while a little over a quarter (28 per cent) do not expect to receive a raise at all in 2016. Another 16 per cent were unsure of whether they would get a raise.

Benefits, Bonuses and Promotions

In the UAE, approximately one in five (21 per cent) professionals receive overtime pay, and 43 per cent receive a company bonus or incentive plan. For those who receive a bonus, 67 per cent said they get an annual or year-end bonus, while 35 per cent get an incentive-based bonus.

In terms of pay structures, two-thirds  (65 per cent) of professionals in the UAE prefer a 100 per cent fixed pay structure, while almost a third (31 per cent) say that they prefer a partially-fixed pay structure, with variable pay for commissions and incentives. Pay structures are annually or biennially reviewed for 42 per cent of UAE respondents, while one fifth (18 per cent) do not receive any pay reviews at all. 

With regards to additional benefits, more that half (53 per cent) of UAE respondents say that they receive personal medical insurance, 48 per cent are allotted a personal air ticket and 31 per cent receive transportation allowance from their companies. When asked about their preferences, 55 per cent of the respondents admitted that they would prefer to receive a bonus, while others would rather receive housing allowance, or company-provided accommodation, at 36 per cent and 35 per cent, respectively.

Future Plans and Expectations

In the UAE, the majority of respondents (58 per cent) claim that they are planning on finding a better job in their industry within the next 12 months, while 37 per cent state that they will be looking for a better job in a new industry. Interestingly, only 12 per cent of UAE respondents plan on relocating to a different country in the Middle East in search of a better job.

When asked about future trends, almost a third (31 per cent) of UAE respondents expect salaries to slightly increase, while 9 per cent expect the opposite (slightly decrease). According to the respondents, factors causing salaries to increase include inflation/rise in cost of living (63 per cent), growth in opportunities and economic growth in the country (41 per cent), and good corporate performance/increased profitability (25 per cent). On the other hand, UAE residents see poor economic growth/declining oil prices (57 per cent), poor corporate performance/decreased profitability (39 per cent), and employer-friendly laws (24 per cent) as the factors preventing salary increases.

Expenses and Savings

With regards to the rising cost of living in the UAE, the majority of respondents say that they have witnessed an increase in their rent (80 per cent), food and beverage (57 per cent) and utilities (55 per cent). Another 35 per cent of respondents say they have also experienced increases in education, and 29 per cent mentioned entertainment as one of the major cost increases.

The increased cost of living has, in turn, hampered UAE professionals’ ability to save: 29 per cent of them admit that they save nothing from their monthly salary. Still, 60 per cent of UAE employees manage to repatriate a portion of their salary to their home country.


In the UAE, the most popular choice for monthly investments include investing in local property (13 per cent). It is worthy to note, though, that only 17 per cent of UAE respondents make financial investments on a regular basis.

Of those polled in the UAE, over a quarter own their own home (27 per cent), while 45 per cent are interested in owning a home in their country of residence, and 62 per cent would like to own a home in their home country.

Joao Neves, Research Director, YouGov, said: “It is interesting to note that 61 per cent of MENA respondents manage to save a portion of their monthly income, with 58 per cent of those living outside their home country being able to repatriate a portion of their savings to their home country. This is a good sign for both employers and job seekers, as the ability to save and repatriate savings will impact other factors such as employee satisfaction and loyalty towards the company.”

Data for the 2016 Bayt.com Middle East and North Africa Salary Survey was collected online from April 1st to April 15th 2016. Results are based on a sample of 8,158 respondents who live in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.