Dubai's tech talent earn higher salaries than in most leading global hubs, reveals study

Survey says they make almost 30 per cent more than those working in other tech hubs



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Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Fri 8 Jul 2022, 8:52 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Jul 2022, 11:23 PM

Software engineers in Dubai with a minimum of three years’ experience earn the third-highest salaries in the world when compared to other global technology hubs such as London, Amsterdam and Berlin.

Software engineers in Dubai earn almost 30 per cent more, stated a study from global consulting firm Mercer.

According to Mercer’s Cost of Living 2022 survey, while Dubai is the most expensive city in the GCC to live and work in for expatriates this year, ranking 31st in the world, it also shows that the cost of living in Dubai remains considerably lower than most tech hubs, including London (ranked seventh), Singapore (ranked eighth), New York (ranked 11th), San Francisco (ranked 19th), and Amsterdam (ranked 25th).

The reasons for Dubai being a relatively more affordable city to work in are two-fold, the survey reveals. “Given the rise of remote and flexible work globally, almost 60 per cent of UAE employers offer flexible working which reduces employees’ transportation costs significantly, said the study.

However, for employees that do travel to work, purchasing a car as well as fuel costs on average remain the lowest in Dubai when compared to other technology hubs like London, New York, and Berlin.

Vladimir Vrzhovski, workforce mobility leader at Mercer Middle East said, “Dubai’s status as a global business hub, coupled with its income tax-free environment, world-class infrastructure, safety, and high quality of life make the emirate a very attractive market for talent.”

He added, “The demand for tech talent, in particular, will continue to grow in the UAE given the nation’s drive to be a global capital of the digital economy. Above all, a key incentive for tech talent is the opportunity for a significant uplift in salary when compared to other tech hubs, where the cost of living is higher in terms of transportation and housing.”

Affordable rents, public transportation

“Dubai is more affordable when it comes to housing and rental costs, which represent a significant portion of the cost of living in a city, with comparable accommodation costing double in London and New York, and 50 per cent more in Singapore,” the study added.

The cost of public transportation is also lower in Dubai as compared to other cities such as London and New York, which are markedly higher than Dubai at 152 per cent and 67 per cent more expensive respectively.

However, the benefit of lower accommodation and transportation costs must be considered on balance with areas in which the emirate is costlier. “For example, employees in Dubai pay significantly more for high-speed internet, which is essential for flexible working; paying between 50 to 60 per cent higher than residents of London, Singapore, Berlin, New York, and Lisbon,” explained the study.

“Moreover, the flexible working culture that often sees employees work from cafes or co-working spaces is costlier in Dubai where the cost of a cup of coffee can be up to 70 per cent higher compared to Berlin, New York and Lisbon and close to 50 per cent higher than in London and Amsterdam,” it added.

Dubai houses highly competitive tech eco-system

Vrzhovski also said, “While inflation and rising fuel costs are a pressure on the cost of living around the globe, Dubai is building a nurturing and highly competitive tech-ecosystem that pays highly competitive salaries - creating an environment that promises to attract and retain the best talent globally.”

He continued, “Over the years, the UAE has also implemented several initiatives that make it easier for talent to live, work and stay in the country. The launch of the Golden Visa program in addition to Dubai’s recently announced Talent Pass aims to attract global professionals in the fields of technology amongst other key areas.”

National initiatives such as the National Program for Coders launched last year, are designed to attract 100,000 coders from around the globe and set up 1,000 digital companies by 2026.

Mercer's Cost of Living 2022 looks at the rising cost of living across 227 cities worldwide including the cost of packages for employees, which depend on factors such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services and accommodation expenses.


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