Not surprisingly, things are looking pretty uncertain for 2021…

It’s safe to say that 2020 has not been one of our best years on the personal finance front, with pay cuts and redundancies a common theme. But if you’ve been pinning your hopes on a pay rise for next year, you may be out of luck, according to the Cooper Fitch 2021 UAE Salary Guide.

Will you get a pay bump in 2021?

Each year, Cooper Fitch recruitment agency polls 200 firms in the UAE, and asks them about their hiring, firing and wage intentions for the coming year. According to the 2021 UAE Salary Guide, 65 per cent of companies said there had been no change to mid-level and senior salaries in 2020.

Going forward, 41 per cent of businesses don’t know whether they will give staff a pay rise in 2021; 27 per cent said they would introduce a merit salary increase; 17 per cent remain in a company-wide salary freeze; and 14 per cent have delayed or are considering delaying pay rises for 2021. In addition, 30 per cent were unsure if they would pay this year’s bonuses.

According to Trefor Murphy, founder and CEO of Cooper Fitch, “the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic continue to ripple across the country, with a significant impact on the jobs market.

“Despite the worldwide economic challenges, we believe the UAE is an extremely robust and resilient market with considerable bounce-back power. The emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are especially good at reinventing themselves and looking ahead to the next thing that will keep them relevant in the global market,” Trefor said.

2021 UAE Salary Guide

Digital and technology

Chief information officer: Dhs85,500 to Dhs111,000
Head of cloud: Dhs65,000 to Dhs85,000
Head of digital: Dhs52,000 to Dhs67,000
Senior digital marketing manager: Dhs34,000 to Dhs44,000
IT manager: Dhs32,000 to Dhs40,500
Developer: Dhs25,000 to Dhs40,000
Network engineer: Dhs13,000 to Dhs16,500

PR and Marketing

Regional commercial director: Dhs55,000 to Dhs69,000
Head of corporate communications: Dhs51,000 to Dhs65,000
Marketing director: Dhs40,000 to Dhs50,000
Digital account director: Dhs35,000 to Dhs42,000
PR account director: Dhs30,000 to Dhs40,000
PR account manger: Dhs18,000 to Dhs25,000
Marketing manager: Dhs20,000 to Dhs24,000
PR account executive: Dhs11,000 to Dhs18,000

Finance and Accounting

Group chief financial officer: Dhs90,000 to Dhs130,000
Big4 partner: Dhs70,000+
Chief financial officer: Dhs55,000 to Dhs90,000
Financial director: Dhs40,000 to Dhs70,000
Chief accountant: Dhs12,000 to Dhs30,000
Financial accountant: Dhs10,000 to Dhs20,000

Investment banking

Managing director: Dhs95,000 to Dhs130,000+
Director: Dhs60,000 to Dhs80,000
Associate: Dhs23,000 to Dhs35,000
Analyst: Dhs15,000 to Dhs23,000


Partner (5+ years): Dhs100,000 to Dhs200,000
Partner (1-4 years): Dhs70,000 to Dhs120,000
In-house general counsel: Dhs60,000 to Dhs75,000
Senior associate: Dhs40,000 to Dhs90,000
Associate: Dhs30,000 to Dhs65,000
Paralegal: Dhs15,000 to Dhs30,000
Legal secretary: Dhs13,000 to Dhs25,000


HR director: Dhs40,000 to Dhs70,000
Learning and development manager: Dhs25,000 to 35,000
HR manager: Dhs22,000 to Dhs35,000
HR generalist: Dhs13,000 to Dhs18,000
Recruiter: Dhs14,500 to Dhs16,000

Manufacturing and Supply Chain

Managing director: Dhs94,000 to Dhs130,000
General manager: Dhs53,000 to Dhs90,000
Supply chain director: Dhs45,000 to Dhs65,000
Operations manager: Dhs19,000 to Dhs35,000
Civil engineer, lead: Dhs15,000 to Dhs22,000
Warehouse manager: Dhs14,000 to Dhs19,000
Electrical/mechanical engineer: Dhs9,000 to Dhs13,000


General manager: Dhs50,000 to Dhs58,000
Sales director: Dhs45,000 to Dhs50,000
Regional sales manager: Dhs30,000 to Dhs36,000
Store manager: Dhs12,000 to Dhs18,000
Sales executive: Dhs8,000 to Dhs12,000
Sales assistant: Dhs5,000 to Dhs8,000

2020 in review

While 2020 will go down as one of our worst, there was some promising news to come out of the UAE Salary Guide. By the end of 2020, 62 per cent of companies reported that business activity was either busy or had started to pick up by the fourth quarter.

Two thirds of respondents (67 per cent) were able to avoid enforcing redundancies as a result of Covid-19, but 34 per cent of organisations implemented a hiring freeze.