The 5 most overpaid jobs in the UAE

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Almost no one in the UAE would admit to being overpaid.

It is human nature, indeed, to believe that we deserve more (much more), but the truth is that many of us take home paycheques that may be bloating just like our waistlines – signs that speak of prosperity.

“Fair compensation” is a relative term and can be interpreted in so many different ways, believe HR and executive headhunters in the country, but they still nod their heads in agreement that some jobs command excessive pay that they blame on the supply-and-demand imbalances and the perception that these particular positions just deserve to be paid more.

And, for once, it isn’t the often-blamed chief executives or celebrity stars that earn these ‘overpaid’ amounts. There are other professionals in some jobs that too may draw the flak from others who come down the salary ladder.

“That is a tough one,” said Ash Athawale, Recruitment Manager at REED consultancy, when asked about the ‘overpaid’ jobs in the UAE.

“Overpayment is the perception of management when they hire an employee who does not meet or exceed expectations of work performance,” says Athawale.

“Similarly, employees feel managers are overpaid when they have far less qualifications, less experience, no proven track record and achieve nothing, say, in a year’s time,” he adds..

Of course, there still remain sectors and jobs that offer much more when compared to the average salary. Here’s a list if the top 5 professions that seem to be tagged as ‘overpaid’ by UAE recruitment specialists.

Oil, gas and petrochemicals

To put it crudely (pun intended), executives in the oil and gas sector are often paid very well – they may come first when it comes to excessive pay.

A survey carried out by online portal in December 2012 reveals that the common perception is that those in oil, gas and petrochemicals are the best paid. A majority (48 per cent) of the participants believe that this is the best paid sector in the country.

And their perception is bang on spot. “The oil & gas sector is well paying anywhere in the world. High oil prices and even higher demand has meant that high salaries are the norm,” Graham Whitworth, Senior Banking Consultant at Charterhouse Partnership, told Emirates 24|7.

Besides the good base salary and yearly increments that professionals get in this sector, they are also eligible for various other benefits, including hardship allowance and hazard pay.

“Whilst the Middle East continues to deliver higher levels of benefits across most categories, this is in the most part offset by lower basic salaries. Indeed the inter-relationship between base salary and benefits should not be ignored when considering regional differences in overall remuneration,” said a statement by Hays recruitment.
Banking & Finance

As in any other country of the world, those in the UAE’s investment banking and wealth management sector earn loads of money. Arguably, it isn’t an easy task to manage somebody else’s finances and one ought to be compensated dearly.

The survey that highlights the best paid sectors puts banking and finance second on the salary list, with 24 per cent of respondents claiming this is the best paid industry.

But tagging all areas of banking with finance as ‘obscenely paid’ would not be fair. It is primarily those in the above-mentioned areas that get the most. Whether you like it or not, wealth managers and investment bankers take home the biggest share of the pie.

According to Charterhouse Partnership, an executive search company, the head of investment banking in sales roles can take home a monthly salary of Dh140,000 without the other frills that make up the package. The ‘Organisation Head’ roles get a better deal at Dh150,000 per month. The head of Asset Management gets to take home Dh120,000.

Professionals in private banking also get plum deals. The salary band for those in this particular area of banking varies between Dh25,000 to Dh90,000 per month, the minimum being drawn by a just an average associate (read: straight out of an A-grade college).

Major airline pilots

We all know pilots earn good money. You wouldn’t want to board a plane flown by a second-rate pilot, would you? For a layman, the more the pilot earns, the better he should be at managing the lives of 250+ people on board.

First Officers with leading airlines in the country get both cash and non-cash elements as part of their package.

The cash element for a Captain includes a monthly salary of Dh41,240 (basic salary plus hourly flying pay based on 85 block hours per month), whereas, the First Officer is estimated to take a monthly salary of Dh29,145 (basic salary plus hourly flying pay based on 85 block hours per month).

Pilots are paid an hourly flying pay on block hours, up to a threshold of 83 to 92 hours. An additional productivity pay is paid for every block hour above the threshold of 92 hours.

Besides, airlines operate an employee profit share scheme based on the company’s performance and results. A minimum tenure serves as the qualifying period for all new employees.

The Bayt survey put this sector third on the salary ladder.

Real estate agents selling high-end homes

There is no dearth of luxury properties in Dubai and an agent’s commission on the sales proceeds can roll into hundreds of thousands of dirhams with one such deal.

Listing on<> shows a 5-bedroom penthouse in The Residences, Downtown Burj Khalifa is priced at Dh40 million (only). Just a 2 per cent commission on such a deal translates into Dh800,000 (yes), putting the MBAs to shame.

A survey by Macdonald & Company, a property recruitment specialist, has revealed that professionals in the industry have seen a hike of 5 per cent on the basic salary and 8 per cent more bonuses given as current average base salary in the Middle East remains in line with last year’s average.

The annual study has revealed that the average base salary of regional real estate professionals across all disciplines is Dh36,293 per month as compared to the Dh37,965 per month figure posted in 2011.


Lastly, it is the lawyers who make loads of money on somebody else’s misery. Not necessarily on others’ misery, but these well-educated professionals need to keep themselves up-to-date with ever-changing local and international laws.

Hays figures show a newly qualified lawyer can make between Dh30,000 and Dh40,000 per month – quite a good deal for a fresher, won’t you say?

Top class lawyers who represent large corporates or patent battles can never stop counting money. If they are the best, hundreds and thousands of dirhams would just be a peanut to crack for them.

Even though these sectors may be the top-paying ones, there are no set limitations for other industries as well. For example, a professional in healthcare or marketing could also take home a fat paycheque.

It’s very much dependent on individual circumstances.

“The job market is a free market and in sectors with high demand and little supply, escalating salaries can be expected. There are lots of highly paid roles in the UAE but if an employer is happy to pay it and if that is the market rate, it is unfair to class the job as overpaid,” says Whitworth.

“Some employees are what I like to call ‘spenders’. They are employed, paid a wage (possibly above what they should be earning) and then ‘spend’ time with a company until they are discovered and forced to leave or they leave on their own to another company to ‘spend’ time there,” summarises Athawale.

Now those are the real ‘overpaid’ ones. Do you have such ‘spenders’ in your organisation? Tell us all about them in comments below.

source :  Emirates 24|7.

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