When will Dubai's gratuity savings scheme be applied to private sector, ask expats

‘2020 UAE Security and Savings’ survey by global consultancy Mercer found that almost half of UAE expats have no plans for financial security post-retirement



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Nandini Sircar

Published: Thu 3 Mar 2022, 6:18 PM

Last updated: Fri 4 Mar 2022, 9:54 AM

In a landmark move, the Dubai Government on Wednesday announced a new savings scheme for expats working in the public sector.

The expat community in the Emirate has welcomed the introduction of the new fund.

While the scheme will be optional for private sector firms, they reiterate that the idea will be an “important addition” to end-of-service benefits currently given to employees.

Many expat employees in the UAE don't do enough to ensure a steady post-retirement life, with an overwhelming number counting on just their end of service benefits.

‘2020 UAE Security and Savings’ survey by global consultancy Mercer found that almost half of UAE expats have no plans for financial security post-retirement.

Indian expat BK Senani, who had landed in the UAE in the year 1979 and is best known for his long standing and renowned bookstores, Book World Trading in Al Bada Satwa and Archies Bookshop, says, “This savings scheme is as good as the UAE Golden Visa [service]. If it is extended to the private sector, then it will be ideal.

A lot of people decide to retire in their home countries as they often cannot visualise the UAE as a place for retirement since the cost of living is high and there are no other end-of-service benefits apart from gratuity. I have been living here for 42 years, with this scheme and if it’s embraced by the private sector, then more people may want to continue living here post retirement.

Senani, whose career here span 38 years, was an employee at Dubai Aluminum (DUBAL) for 28 years.

He explains lifestyle, priorities, and the mindset to save was very different back then. “When we were young, we always thought about how to plan our savings and keep money aside for our children’s education,” he adds.

Senani continues, “We didn’t spend money on leading a very luxurious life. Additionally, I also always made it a point to save 10 per cent of my salary every month that I refused to touch and kept it aside completely. In 2007, I also bought a property in Dubai as I believed that even if I wanted to lead a retired life here, I must have a shelter of my own, which will be a concrete asset and I wouldn’t have to pay any rent,” he added.

“The announcement that Non-Emirati employees working in Dubai’s government and public sector can join a new savings pension plan is a very pleasant surprise. Any form of income support to a retired person is more than welcome and will lead to better financial security, especially when one is beyond his/her prime income earning period.”

Shedding light on how he prepares financially for retirement, Panigrahi adds, “I believe in not putting all my investments in one basket. My savings are spread across term deposits which are risk free but offer low returns, portfolio management services (PMS), where professionals manage your funds and in systematic investment plans (SIPs) which bring in discipline in investments (fixed amounts of money are invested at pre-defined intervals in selected mutual funds).”

37-year-old, Egyptian resident in Dubai Mina Kiwan opines, “If this scheme is embraced by the private sector, then it will seriously be a win-win situation for the expat community living here.

"People spend the best years of their lives working hard here but eventually they return to their home countries only with what they’ve managed to save on their own and the gratuity. I am now trying to save a portion of my salary for the down payment of a 2-BHK flat here so that I can eventually save on the rent.”

Many highlight employees must understand that the current end of service benefits is far from enough to ensure an adequate standard of living post-retirement.

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"As an individual who has grown from a salaried person to an entrepreneur, my advice to all salaried people in the UAE is to lock a 33.33 per cent of your salary and save that money in some form of savings account or scheme which will give you enough money in few years to take home for retirement. When I had my first salary, I told myself only 2/3rd is what I am going to bring home, that’s how I have been saving and hope to continue the practice in the future.”

Dr Shams says, “The introduction of the saving scheme is another milestone for the UAE. Time and again the UAE has proved to be a perfect place to live, work and retire and this is a testament of the same."


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