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The Middle East: Salary survey and trends in 2014

  • By
  • Divisional Manager

The Middle East is growing. Barely a day goes by without a major new infrastructure or construction project being announced, so it is no surprise that engineers from all over the world are flocking to the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to take advantage of the new opportunities and competitive salaries.


While the cumulative effect of the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring certainly slowed down project investment in the region for a while, business is booming once again.

Just this week, engineering firm Rolta was awarded a major new contract with Saudi Arabia’s Sadara Chemical Company, worth millions of dollars. In Qatar, Al Jabar Engineering invested another $268m into a nationwide project to create an emergency fresh water supply. Meanwhile, a massive engineering project is underway at the UAE’s first ever nuclear power plant, which is being constructed at Barakah, right next to the Saudi Arabian border.


For engineers seeking a better salary and a new way of life, the Middle East is worth considering.

The latest survey from Expat Arrivals estimates that a chief engineer working in the Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC states can earn between $10,000 and $11,667 per month, tax free. According to Mercer’s 2014 International Geographic Salary Differentials report, expats working in the UAE are among the highest paid in the world, with the average senior professional taking home $79,352 (£46,846) per year tax free, and the average junior professional earning $51,498 (£30,402), tax free.

The key words here are ‘tax free’. The UAE’s competitive 0% income tax stance has been attracting ambitious expats for decades, and with good reason. An engineer earning £46,846 in the UK last year would have paid almost £9,000 in income tax alone in the last tax year, a considerable saving by anyone’s standards!


Added to that, the chance to work on an innovative project in a sunny, cosmopolitan and fascinating environment is enough to tempt anyone who is sick of the British rat race. Dubai, Saudi, Bahrain and Qatar have thriving expat communities with professionals from every background represented.

Whether you prefer golden beaches, extreme sports or fine restaurants, you will be able to pursue your favourite hobbies in the GCC states. Dubai even boasts an indoor ski resort, complete with chalets and an après-ski bar!

Employment opportunities in the Middle East show no signs of slowing down in 2014, while salaries are unlikely to go down. If you can handle the odd sandstorm, your future may lie in the engineering sector of the Middle East.

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