GNcareers, from Gulf News

Salaries still expected to rise in some sectors in UAE

Salaries still expected to rise in some sectors in UAEImage Credit: Supplied

Some doom and gloom. That's what employment market analysts have warned about amid low oil prices and tight liquidity.

Recruitment specialist Morgan McKinley had earlier forecast that most people's pay slips won't show significant changes this year, as the outlook for 2016 is ''highly uncertain''. However, a closer look at the company's salary guide shows that there is still room for optimism on the compensation front.

Out of the 12 professional groups reviewed for the Morgan McKinley 2016 Salary Guide, at least six are predicted to see some financial boost.

Accounting and finance professionals, as well as those in the supply chain, manufacturing, sales and marketing, human resources and construction industries, can expect some wage adjustments in 2016 despite a slump in the economy.

Increments can range between 2 per cent and 6 per cent for most professionals, while those that are highly qualified and experienced can enjoy 15 per cent to 20 per cent increase in their income when they move jobs.

''We expect salaries to remain broadly flat. There are significant divergences around this forecast, however, with some sectors likely to perform better than others, leading to respective salary growth,'' said Trefor Murphy, managing director at Morgan McKinley.

Pay adjustments, however, may not apply to all professionals in each sector, as companies are now more selective in granting financial rewards.

''As a result of weak global oil prices and struggles in large economies such as China, I think salaries increasing [by 2 to 6 per cent] across the UAE is a projection that some may see and others won't, based on the sector they are in,'' said Ebony Thomas, Morgan McKinley's manager for manufacturing, supply chain, engineering and HR for Middle East and North Africa.

''Employers won't be able to give increments to everyone and I don't think it will be across the board. Conservative businesses may not seek to expand their manpower too much this year and rather focus on rewarding, training and developing the current team of employees they have and focus on strategies to get the most out of their current team,'' Thomas told Gulf News.

Nuno Gomes, Mercer's information solution leaders for the Middle East, said earlier that pay increases will more likely go to ''high performers and holders of business critical positions. ''Not necessarily those in high-rank positions, but those who are vital to the business and bring value to the organisation.''

Accounting and finance

According to Morgan McKinley's report, salaries of accounting and finance professionals will likely go up by 4 per cent on average, above the forecast regional average of no growth or negative salaries.

''Individuals who are already based in the UAE can expect their salaries to increase by at least 5 per cent to 6 per cent when they move jobs, however,'' wrote Vilius Dobilaitis, consultant at Morgan McKinley.

He noted that there is still optimism in the industry today, as the UAE government ''has been able to maintain the majority of its fiscal policies and the delivery of its large-scale projects.''

''Businesses are therefore broadly confident about the region's growth prospects in the foreseeable future. This optimism is set to benefit accounting and finance professionals, as UAE employers seek to reorganise their finance teams and improve systems and processes – all in anticipation of future expansion.''


If you think engineers and other skilled professionals are no longer in demand because there are fewer buildings and other infrastructure being built, think again. Despite tight liquidity, ''highly skilled'' construction professionals, particularly those with experience in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region, are still highly sought after.

In fact, in 2015 alone, salaries of employees in this industry saw their take-home pay rise by 5 per cent to 10 per cent.

''[2016] is likely to be a tougher environment, however, we expect salaries to increase by 2 per cent to 5 per cent,'' the report said. ''Given market conditions, employers are likely to take a more considered approach to hiring in 2016, but talented construction professionals should still find good opportunities in the market.''

Human resources (HR)

HR professionals can also expect some positive news, with their salaries forecast to increase by approximately 2 per cent to 5 per cent in 2016.

Thomas said companies are now keen on investing in a strong HR team to ensure they're able to ''do more with less'' during times of uncertainty.

''During this time it's common for stakeholders to ask their HR department to do more with less when managing human capital. Many of our clients, both multinational and regional, are investing in building a robust and efficient HR team as they know hiring and retaining the best people in this function will help the sustainability of the business during difficult times,'' Thomas told Gulf News.

''This is why I believe that HR talent is still highly sought after and professionals working in this function can still expect a salary increment of 2-5% this year not only as a retention strategy but to show how much they are valued by their organisation.''

Supply chain

Salaries of supply chain and procurement employees are forecast to rise by four per cent to 6 per cent. The report noted that there is now a growing trend for procurement professionals to invest in neuro-linguistic programming courses and other psychology-based qualifications. ''This is because having an in-depth understanding of human nature and behavior is seen as highly beneficial when negotiating,'' the report said.


The implementation of value-added tax on most goods and services in the UAE is expected to discourage some expatriates from working in the country. As a result, companies will have to work on their talent retention strategies, which can include offering higher pay.

Given the scenario, salaries among engineering and manufacturing professionals are forecast to rise by 4 per cent to 6 per cent.

''This is because employers will be looking to retain talent amid rumours that tax is going to be introduced in the UAE. The introduction of taxation would probably result in an exodus of expatriate talent since most foreign nationals are predominantly attracted to the UAE for its tax-free living,'' the report said.

Sales and marketing

Companies now more than ever need the expertise of sales and marketing professionals to boost their profits. Employees with the right qualifications and skills can therefore expect to see a 4 per cent to 6 per cent increase in their wages this year.

''Economic growth, inflation and fiercer competition for talent means that salaries for sales and marketing professionals are expected to increase,'' said the report.

Overall, Morgan McKinley predicted salary growth to drop below current levels or to remain flat for the year ahead.

Did you know that 52% of workers in UAE, rest of GCC received pay hike last year

Source: Cleofe Maceda, Senior Web Reporter,