Emiratis accepting salaries as low as $2,000, says top Dubai recruiter 

Nationals suspect the private sector ‘isn’t serious’ about hiring them

Lubna Hamdan 2 Min Read

Emiratis are accepting monthly salaries as low as $2,000 (AED7,000), according to Abdulmuttalib (Talib) Hashim, founder of Dubai-based TBH Advisory, a recruitment and nationalisation specialist.

Speaking on Frankly’s YouTube show Behind Closed Doors, Hashim says Emiratis have significantly reduced their salary expectations in 2022.

“From my conversations and from what I see when I speak to employers, the expectation from Emiratis when it comes to salaries has reduced significantly… You have nationals accepting salaries of AED6,000 to AED7,000, and you think that’s too high?” he says, referring to some private companies’ claims that Emiratis demand excessively high salaries.

The private sector must meet the 2% Emiratization target set by the UAE’s government, according to the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratization (MoHRE). If they fail to do so, they face fines ranging from ($1,6000) AED6,000 a month to ($19,600) AED72,000 a year. 

While several surveys, including the Hays Emiratisation Salary Guide 2022, showed 50% of Emiratis expected a salary increase in 2022, the Emiratisation initiative requires that salaries for skilled national workers meet a minimum of just $1,000 (AED4,000). 

Meanwhile, Dubai ranked the number one city globally for the highest expat salaries in 2018 at $138,000 (AED500,000), according to the HSBC Expat Explorer survey.

Hashim argues, “It’s very subjective, this assumption that Emiratis are paid significantly higher than expats,” he says. 

“The question is, if the indigenous people of this country are not entitled to a higher salary [in the UAE] then where are they entitled? How are they protected…. ?” he adds.

“Why are we talking about salary differences today when the government announced last year that it will now finally put an end to this contentious issue by subsidising wages?

“So today, if you’re a private sector company and if are hiring Emiratis for apprenticeship programmes, you can tap into subsidies of up to $2,200 (AED8,000) a month. If you have employed Emiratis, you can tap into subsidies of up to $1,300 (AED5,000). What else do you expect?” Hashim says.

Last month, Emiratis said they are tired of unemployment and low-paying jobs after a company put out an ad offering citizens ‘sandwich making’ roles in line with Emiratization.

The ad, which said sandwich making company Subway is “now hiring Emirati men and women for sandwich making jobs…” was later retracted by the franchise owner the Kamal Jamjoom retail group, which apologized for “misspelling” the job. 

The UAE’s authorities have since opened an investigation into the company.

Hashim says such instances have resulted in Emiratis being “suspicious” of whether the private sector is serious about hiring them.

“Emiratis have long held this suspicion and point of view that the private sector isn’t serious about hiring nationals. And if they do actually look at hiring them, it’s only to full a quota and number, and hire them in jobs that don’t bring value or contribute to their career progression,” he says.

He is also the co-founder of Sdara, a national talent platform that helps companies find opportunities in Emiratization, and is launching an online platform called Maylis, which addresses the gap between locals and expats in the GCC’s business community by bringing them together. 

Watch the full interview below.