Expat Forum For People Moving Overseas And Living Abroad banner

1 - 20 of 40 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am about to enter the murkey water of Dubai Salaries and Packages.

While the range of benefits and scale of salaries seem to vary enormously do any Brits out here that have gone through this have "tips" and "watch outs"

I'm in the IT sector, Consulting and have come from a Director/MD level role in the UK. Benchmarks are difficult so I'm just looking for some ideas on how to negotiate and maximise my package.

I plan on bringing my Wife and Son (15) out next year so it'll be me alone for 12 months.

All help - stories and traps welcomed as I always feel uncomfortable around the sticky subject of money.

If anyone is at this level and would prefer to pm me I'd welcome a phone conversation as I understand people may not want to share specifics openly.

Thanks in advance.
 

·
Super Moderator
Originally from UK but lived in many countries
Joined
·
6,963 Posts
Hi,
The key is to ensure that you are going to be working for a reputable company that pays salaries regularly and on time.
I know many people (myself included) that have worked for companies that don't pay on time.
When I left my last company, they owed me three months salary and a whole year of commission.
They gave me three post dated cheques (that fortunately cleared).
Make sure you find out the reputation of the company before you actually join them.
Feel free to PM me if you want a chat on the phone.
Cheers
Steve
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,294 Posts
Make sure *everything* offered to you - including bonuses, schools, housing etc - is in writing prior to starting. If some things are only on completion a probation period, make sure that is in writing now or you'll never see it down the line.

Also, loose the British reserve regarding money. You're going to have to, to avoid being ripped off if you move out anyway, so best get in the practice now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Hi Steve, good point, the company concerned is well established and part of large international group.

They have also employed and relocated people from the uk and us, so while there are no guarantees it looks good.

Pm would be good. Are you in a similar industry or at a similar level?
Thanks again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yep planning to bounce of a mate for negotiation.

Tips I've found so far...

Never name a price first
Never accept the first offer
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Having relocated recently, my "if I'd known" column has been about unforeseen costs that I'd not bottomed out properly and therefore not really negotiated.

So healthcare for my wife and son is going to cost me $6,500 a year. I'd foolishly based my estimations on top line figures given on expat sites that regularly quote a fraction of that, and on my experience of the UK system where, again, I'd be looking at a fraction of that.

Processing visas for my wife and son cost c.7,000 aed (done via an agency as I was just too busy to cart paperwork from pillar to post). I'd not seen that sort of estimate given anywhere.

You'll need to add 10% to any housing budget - 5% agency fee, 5% deposit up front on top of your annual rent.

If you've been offered annual flights home as part of your package, verify the actual cash value of the reimbursement provided. Having done so at this end, we'd have to be very selective about our dates for it to cover the whole cost.

If you're being offered free accommodation for a month on arrival, which seems to be common, push for two months. You won't be able to do anything at all to get yourself sorted and into a property while your visa, emirates ID, bank account etc are all in process. That eats your first month and you either end up in a desperate rush to sort a rental once legal or forking out of your own pocket for an extended stay in an apart-hotel. When they tell you that it will all be sorted in time for you to move out by the end of your month, they're not lying - it's just that the bureaucracy here is pretty unpredictable.

My headlines would be to push for as many of your bens as possible to be extended to the family, and push for as long a landing period in company funded accommodation as they'll bear.

On the actual job package front my only note of caution would be to keep any eye on anything in your performance related element that is dependent on clients paying invoices. Getting paid for work done seems to be the main challenge that a lot of businesses out here face, even with government entities. They seem to get paid eventually, but don't be thinking that an invoiced amount put out in month one is going to be paid in that quarter (or even half year) by the client. Debtor days run at rates that would see a UK finance function sacked en mass.

As I said, I'm pretty new and have probably embarrassed myself by admitting to some of these now obvious errors, but hope it helps.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Yep planning to bounce of a mate for negotiation.

Tips I've found so far...

Never name a price first
Never accept the first offer

On general salary negotiation tips (speaking as someone who headhunts at board level for a living) I'd say be careful with this sort of technique.

Most organisations are going to want a sense of your expectations. They're running P&Ls and they're conscious of cost and overpaying. But, more importantly, they're wary of people who don't know their worth. The general assumption is that someone who won't put details of their current package on the table is hiding something - usually that they've over-egged their importance to their current business and are actually paid a lot less than they might have let on.

Some people are bothered by this, but it's how it is to be honest.

The hard thing with relocating to a different market is knowing where to benchmark yourself given the expected premiums.

My general observation so far in Dubai is not to expect a huge uplift. Employers are aware that they're offering you a tax free package, so you're getting an uplift. Living costs are high, but not really any higher than London. Dubai is by no means a hardship posting, so you're not going to get clubbed over the head with a bag of cash and dragged there in the way that the Saudis or Qataris might seek to.

The job market here is actually fairly competitive, and packages reflect that.

General rule of thumb (and massively open to correction from more experienced people here, and hugely dependent on your field) is that I'd say you're unlikely to beat the 20%ish uplift on your package that you might expect in the UK unless you're taking a considerable career step.

Robert Half have a fairly useful and thorough salary guide here:

UAE Salary Guide | Robert Half

It may not have your role per se, but it's a good indicator of where the market bench marks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
Sorry to trundle on, but....

As food for thought, I'm in the process of appointing a partner level individual in the middle east operation of a major global consultancy. They flat out can't afford the salaries equivalent individuals in other global markets, including Australia and New Zealand. Their willingness to move here will be dependent on their willingness to compromise on gross for a bigger net.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,159 Posts
Honestly, being a Director/MD means very little in this country, from my experience. Everyone likes bigger titles so they get given them. So, really, it's more about the company you're planning on working for and the sector. I think you mentioned the sector in another thread but I forget. Best advice might be to see if you have any linkedin connections to the company in the UAE and see if you can reach out and ask questions to someone.

Make sure you have a list of all the considerations:
  • Base salary (what they'll base severance pay on, so they typically offer a low base wage)
  • Bonuses (they're not as easy to get as back home in IT sectors)
  • Visas (for you and your family)
  • Medical care (Does it come with dental? Is it for the whole family?)
  • 1 return flight home a year (should come as standard for the whole family. Is it an actualy flight or do you get cash?)
  • School allowance vs fees (I don't have children but from what I hear: YIKES)
  • Car allowance
  • Housing Allowance (Do you get it upfront yearly? Monthly? Do you get it or does the company pay direct to landlord?)
  • freezone or non-freezone visa?

But I think you have the gist.
Let them make the first offer, don't accept the first offer, negotiate, get it ALL in writing.

P took a 10% pay cut on the base salary to come out here but without 40% income tax, and all the extras (like not spending the entire housing allowance), we managed to save a good amount in only two years.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bluebossa

·
Registered
Joined
·
864 Posts
...But, more importantly, they're wary of people who don't know their worth. The general assumption is that someone who won't put details of their current package on the table is hiding something - usually that they've over-egged their importance to their current business and are actually paid a lot less than they might have let on...
for someone in a senior leadership role, this is excellent advice...

i expect my programmers to play the coy "tell me your number first" game, but would never accept it from one of my direct reports... infact, if one of my direct reports did the "show me yours first" at an interview, i would very likely move on to the next guy...

the whole "lets get them interested first, and when they are hooked, reel them in" only works for positions that are lower on the food chain...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Package now in - comments welcomed

So offer in today, and for those who've helped and all those looking at roles in Dubai this should help, what do you think?

Consists of the following elements high level:

  • Base Salary - equates exactly to what I was on in the UK - Gross so Tax Free of course
  • End of Year Bonus of between one and three months Salary
  • 50% of Package is Base Salary
  • 25% Housing - paid Jan and July 6 months in advance - interest free loan
  • 25% Transport Allowance
  • Annual Tickets Home - 50% of Wife and Sons Tickets
  • Medical Insurance including Dental - 50% of Wife and Sons Medical and Dental
  • Up to 3 months Temporary Accommodation Serviced Apartment - Comes out of Housing element of package
  • 22 Days Holiday - these are working days rather than Calendar days, don't really get this, but means you don't get robbed of long weekends? - maybe someone can explain.
  • Visas - Costs of My Visa process covered - + 50% of Wife and Sons Visa Application when they come.

Look forward to hearing what all you Expats think and where to negotiate.

I've been round a small base negotiation loop already - the rest is all to be put in writing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,294 Posts
[*]22 Days Holiday - these are working days rather than Calendar days, don't really get this, but means you don't get robbed of long weekends? - maybe someone can explain.
If you take a Thursday off, some companies deduct the weekend from your holiday entitlement too. This is because many workers go on one block of 30 days leave per year. If it was 30 working days plus weekends, the company would loose staff for around six consecutive weeks of the year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
  • Base Salary - equates exactly to what I was on in the UK - Gross so Tax Free of course
  • End of Year Bonus of between one and three months Salary
  • 50% of Package is Base Salary
  • 25% Housing - paid Jan and July 6 months in advance - interest free loan
  • 25% Transport Allowance
  • Annual Tickets Home - 50% of Wife and Sons Tickets
  • Medical Insurance including Dental - 50% of Wife and Sons Medical and Dental
  • Up to 3 months Temporary Accommodation Serviced Apartment - Comes out of Housing element of package
  • 22 Days Holiday - these are working days rather than Calendar days, don't really get this, but means you don't get robbed of long weekends? - maybe someone can explain.
  • Visas - Costs of My Visa process covered - + 50% of Wife and Sons Visa Application when they come.
Without actual numbers, it's hard to comment on specifics but for a high level/director position, I'm surprised they are only covering 50% of your wife and son's tickets/medical etc.

My company covers 100% of my wife and kid's ticket home, insurance (including dental) and visa fees.

Also, something to consider is the 3 months temporary accommodations - assuming that's for when you first move here - you said it comes out of your annual accommodations package? If you end up using the entire 3 months then you'll probably be left with much less for the first year's rent. Maybe try to get 1 month temporary accommodations instead but have the company pay for it outright rather than the cost coming out of the accommodation allowance? But then again, it all depends on the numbers - maybe the 25% allowance is enough for you to manage the first 3 months temp + a year's rent.

Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6 Posts
This is my first post however I'm in a similar position (director level posting) and there are a few things that I would certainly consider.

To put in perspective I'm single, 30, and the company who headhunted me offered the following..

Salary.
50% of salary (on top and up front) for travel and accommodation.
2 weeks hotel accommodation for me and (if I had any) family.
3 months pay bonus. (OTE of course)
Return business class flights for family once a year.
Full medical.

Although I have very few ties I have had to consider this carefully and I would very much advise finding a position and having full details before committing/certainly leaving the country.
I would imagine, as in all countries, director level roles are often recruited directly via headhunters rather than ad-hoc. Certainly in London that is the case.

Best of luck!

M
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
864 Posts
my take... but then again, without actual numbers this is just gut feeling...

[*]Annual Tickets Home - 50% of Wife and Sons Tickets
should be 100%...

[*]Medical Insurance including Dental - 50% of Wife and Sons Medical and Dental
same as above...

[*]Up to 3 months Temporary Accommodation Serviced Apartment - Comes out of Housing element of package
should be outside the accommodation allowance and a component of relocation...

[*]Visas - Costs of My Visa process covered - + 50% of Wife and Sons Visa Application when they come.
this actually makes no sense... visa costs taken as part of the whole picture are not that much... should be 100% in my opinion...

what about education, if you will need that?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
449 Posts
Yeh, without numbers we can't really help you. There are a couple of interesting things there though:

I find the transport allowance quite high (as a percentage). You better have a higher base salary as that is what counts towards your end of service benefits...

Tickets home, health insurance and visas should be paid in full by the company. I'm surprised they didn't give you that, especially at a director level...

Do they work 6 days a week of 5 days a week?

And regarding the 3 months temporary accommodation. What do you mean with "Comes out of Housing element of package"? So, basically you pay for that? Normally how it goes, the company arranges one month of accommodation which gives you time to sort everything out before you sign a tenancy contract yourself. The temporary accommodation is paid for by the company, not you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
So further - the package offered so far is 40k per month all in.
End of Year Bonus also - 10 to 30% on top of this depending on personal and group performance.

Breakdown is 50% Basic, 25% Accommodation, 25% Travel.

Working week is 5 days, Sunday to Thursday

Agree with all the comments so far, it's really helpful getting your insight.

One more bit of information -
While I am Director level, the role is a fair bit lower / more junior as that's what is on offer - lots of opportunity for Growth and I'd welcome the reduced responsibility - no direct reports or no P&L responsibility at this point.

Accommodation seems a bit mean too I agree.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
449 Posts
How many years of experience do you have?

Although it appears to be a reasonable strategy to take a job below your level and grow through the company, but you can only grow if people above you move as well. The higher you get in an organization, the fewer movement there is, meaning that you could actually be stuck there for a while...

Maybe I missed it, but who will take care of schooling for your child? Will that be the company? Or do you have to pay that from your 40k?
 
1 - 20 of 40 Posts
Top