UAE pay gap between Western and Asian expats is shrinking fast

Published:  3 Oct at 6 PM
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A new study has revealed that the gap between the higher salaries traditionally paid to Western expats and the pay scale of similarly qualified Asian expats is shrinking fast.

The survey, by Cost of Living Middle East, notes that long-standing rumours that expat professionals in the emirate are paid by skin colour rather than professional expertise has some basis in fact. The good news for Asian expats is that the pay gap is narrowing.

Head analyst at the company Rebecca Wilson also notes that more Asians are being seen in the workplace and a similar number of Western expats are now taking jobs in retail stores, bars and restaurants. Another study, the Gulf Business 2013 Salary Survey, pulled no punches with the fact that Arab expats from other parts of the Arab world earned 15.7 per cent less than Westerners, with Asian expats’ salaries even lower at 26 per cent less than the Western equivalent for a similar position.

Professionals in the recruitment sector believe that rates of pay in the UAE are fast becoming related to qualifications, experience and performance rather than nationality. Much more of a level playing field is now being seen, meaning that Western expats wanting to work in the UAE are been forced to demonstrate their fitness for the positions.

Wilson believes that the change reflects the ongoing recession in the West which is outlasting its effect on developing countries including the UAE, rather than marking a change of heart on the part of corporate employers. Developing countries such as India, she adds, are into sustained growth rates requiring an endless supply of skilled labour, with fewer nationals wanting to emigrate as a result and higher salaries for the few who do.
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