Workers in Saudi and UAE: Here's what to expect in your salary package in 2019

Workers in Saudi and UAE: Here's what to expect in your salary package in 2019

Workers in Saudi and UAE: Here's what to expect in your salary package in 2019
Disclaimer: Business people looking at sticky notes in office. Getty Images / Hill Street Studios


As the focus on hiring local talent increases in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, salary hikes are being affected across the board. But how does this impact which professionals and sectors are in demand this year?

Companies across the region will offer attractive expat packages for business-critical roles only, a new report said. While salaries in the Middle East will increase by 1 per cent on an average, Saudi Arabia expects a strong salary growth of 2 per cent on average across all fields, according to a salary survey by Robert Walters. 

“The job market in Saudi Arabia will continue to be busy for government roles; we expect the private sector to follow suit and recover in 2019. Sectors such as IT, manufacturing, logistics, finance, banking and education will be key benefactors,” said Jason Grundy, Robert Walters Country Head – Middle East.

While the demand for nationals will continue to dominate the market, local market knowledge could be a key differentiator for all professionals across the region, he added.

Here are some predictions from the survey for the various sectors in 2019.


In the UAE, recovering oil prices, the investment ecosystem ahead of Expo 2020 in Dubai, and an active trade and tourism market will trigger demand for financial analysts, management accountants, business controllers, finance managers, chief accountants and project accountants in 2019. New roles will be created in compliance and risk. 

Based on the various projects and development initiatives announced by the Saudi government, including a 7.4 per cent increase in total spend for 2019, companies are gearing up to hire more employees. Hiring of nationals in Saudi Arabia increased in 2018, and the trend is likely to continue this year. Saudi firms are also likely to reduce their expat headcount in favour of locals who have international experience.


The UAE banking sector will see an increase in the number of technical and finance roles during the first half of 2019.

 As most industries have embarked on a path of digital transformation, candidates who have led or been part of large digital projects will find opportunities easier to come by, especially in the banking and retail industry.

Information security is a key area of hiring as businesses are maturing and starting to recognise the importance of having secure environments. Robotics, AI and machine learning have an increasingly important role within technology functions, and candidates with experience in these areas will be highly sought after, especially those from North America and Europe.


There will be an increasing demand for specific operational skills across all marketing roles. Areas of growth will be in beauty cosmetics, FMCG and the food-and-beverage sector. The e-commerce market will continue to go from strength to strength as online shopping becomes embedded in the local culture.

In 2019, salaries are expected to remain the same, with emphasis placed on attractive commission schemes for all sales roles.

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