According to global consulting firm Mercer, software engineers in Dubai with a minimum of three years in experience earn the third-highest salaries in the world, when compared to other global technology hubs such as London, Amsterdam, and Berlin – earning almost 30 percent more. This difference in compensation indicates the high demand for tech talent while reaffirming the emirate’s ambition to attract the top digital talent and become a global tech talent magnet that supports the growth of the digital economy as a key strategic priority for the UAE.
Additionally according to Mercer’s Cost of Living 2022 survey, while Dubai is the most expensive city in the GCC to live and work in for expatriates this year, ranking 31st in the world, it also shows that the cost of living in Dubai remains considerably lower than most tech-hubs, including London (7th), Singapore (8th), New York (11th), San Francisco (19th), and Amsterdam (25th).
The reasons for Dubai being a relatively more affordable city to work in are two-fold, the survey reveals. Given the rise of remote and flexible work globally, almost 60 percent of UAE employers offer flexible working which reduces employees’ transportation costs significantly. For employees that do travel to work, purchasing a car as well as fuel costs on average remain the lowest in Dubai when compared to other technology hubs like London, New York, and Berlin.
Dubai is more affordable when it comes to housing and rental costs, which represent a significant portion of the cost of living in a city, with comparable accommodation costing double in London and New York, and 50 percent more in Singapore. The cost of public transportation is also lower in Dubai as compared to other cities such as London and New York, which are markedly higher than Dubai at 152 percent and 67 percent more expensive respectively.
However, the benefit of lower accommodation and transportation costs must be considered on balance with areas in which the emirate is more costly. For example, employees in Dubai pay significantly more for high-speed internet, which is essential for flexible working; paying between 50 to 60 percent higher than residents of London, Singapore, Berlin, New York, and Lisbon. Moreover, the flexible working culture that often sees employees work from cafes or co-working spaces is more costly in Dubai where the cost of a cup of coffee can be up to 70 percent higher compared to Berlin, New York, and Lisbon and close to 50 percent higher than in London and Amsterdam.
Vladimir Vrzhovski, Workforce Mobility Leader at Mercer Middle East said, “Dubai’s status as a global business hub, coupled with its income tax-free environment, world-class infrastructure, safety, and high quality of life make the emirate a very attractive market for talent. The demand for tech talent in particular will continue to grow in the UAE given the nation’s drive to be a global capital of the digital economy. Above all, a key incentive for tech talent is the opportunity for a significant uplift in salary when compared to other tech hubs, where the cost of living is higher in terms of transportation and housing. While inflation and rising fuel costs are pressure on the cost of living around the globe, Dubai is building a nurturing and highly competitive tech ecosystem that pays highly competitive salaries – creating an environment that promises to attract and retain the best talent globally.”
He continued, “Over the years, the UAE has also implemented several initiatives that make it easier for talent to live, work and stay in the country. The launch of the Golden Visa program in addition to Dubai’s recently announced Talent Pass aims to attract global professionals in the fields of technology amongst other key areas. National initiatives such as the National Program for Coders launched last year, are designed to attract 100,000 coders from around the globe and set up 1,000 digital companies by 2026.”
Mercer’s Cost of Living 2022 survey provides employers with current, extensive, and reliable data to help them navigate compensation strategies for their mobile employees in the unpredictable global markets. It looks at the rising cost of living across 227 cities worldwide including the cost of packages for employees, which depend on factors such as currency fluctuations, cost inflation for goods and services, and accommodation expenses. Mercer measured the comparative cost of more than 200 components — including housing, transport, utilities, food, domestic supplies, and entertainment, among others for its ranking.