Salary expectations of UAE expatriates unrealistic, experts say

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Salary expectations of UAE expatriates unrealistic, experts say

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has long been a favored destination for expatriate professionals. Thanks to its relative political stability and rapidly expanding economy, the UAE attracts countless expatriates every year, many of whom work for large international corporations with an interest in expanding their Middle Eastern operations. Some of these professionals, particularly those with significant management experience, have high expectations in terms of their salaries and benefits packages, but according to some employment consultants, the bubble could soon burst for international workers hoping to secure excessive paychecks by moving to the region.

Challenging demands
According to Emirates 24/7, the expectations of foreign nationals coming to work in the UAE are often too high for many employers to successfully meet. Although initial expectations do not always translate to the final remuneration packages offered, the growing culture of entitlement among expatriates is proving detrimental to some industries. However, despite the prevalence of available positions, the supply of suitable candidates may serve as a counterbalance to the problem of unrealistic expatriate expectations.

"[We] currently have more than 3,965 vacancies advertised online in the UAE, with more than 1,690 job posts in Dubai alone," Suhail Masri, vice president of sales for a prominent employment consultancy in Dubai, told the news source. "To these are added hundreds, if not thousands, of unadvertised positions that employers prefer filling by browsing our database of CVs."

Gareth Clayton, director of finance and banking at Charterhouse Partnership, believes that while many expatriates' initial salary expectations are too high, the buoyancy of the employment market in the UAE will eventually impact the final salaries of many positions typically held by foreign nationals.

Emerging opportunities
While the affluence and expectations of expatriate professionals may be a barrier for regional employers to overcome, they are a potentially lucrative market to others, particularly real estate professionals. Incoming foreign nationals, especially those from Southeast Asian nations like the Philippines, have their sights set on investing in property in the UAE, and this represents a unique opportunity for commercial developers.

According to Gulf News, as many as 600,000 Filipino expatriates living and working in Dubai are waiting for the opportunity to buy their dream homes. Although short term rental apartments and corporate housing are plentiful in Dubai, the domestic housing market is particularly challenging, especially for expatriates. As such, several major real estate developers from the Philippines have flown out to the UAE to present their offerings to Filipino expats hoping to invest in property.

Economic data from the Philippines' central bank indicates that cash remittances for Filipino expats working in Dubai increased by 9.4 percent from 2011 to 2012, and that the region's crowded real estate market has prompted many expatriates to invest in houses in their home country. This situation could prove to be beneficial for commercial developers in cities like Manila, and providers of serviced apartments in Dubai, which offer comfortable and reliable housing for expatriates on short- and mid-term assignments, as it encourages investment of funds in domestic property.

The commercial housing market in the Philippines has grown considerably in recent years. The news source reports that more than 154,000 condominium housing units are scheduled for completion across the country between 2012 and 2016, significantly higher than the 87,000 units completed between 2007 and 2011 during the height of the global economic crisis.

Whether expatriates choose to invest in property in the UAE or their home countries, there is little doubt that the region's continued economic growth and attraction to foreign nationals will contribute to heightened demand for corporate housing and furnished extended stay accommodations.