Salary gap between Western and Asian expats in the UAE is shrinking: Study

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Your country of origin or the passport that you hold has long been a topic of discussion in the UAE, with a general consensus on the theory that expats from Western nations get higher salary compared with those from Asian countries because of factors that go beyond qualification and experience.

Online fora see people engage in heated debate that country of origin determines salaries, but post-recession, this factor has become less important.

Breaking from the past traditions, pay hikes for expat professionals in the UAE are expected to be more on performance than mere nationality, say experts in the recruitment industry.

According to a new report by ‘The Cost of Living Middle East’, the difference between Western and Asian expatriate salaries in the UAE is decreasing.

“This year’s Cost of Living UAE Report findings show that the difference between the traditionally higher Western expatriate salaries versus Asian expatriate salaries is in fact abating,” says Rebecca Wilson, Head of Analysis at the Cost of Living Middle East.

“As nice as it would be to declare that it is because we have attained a more benevolent social utopia within the corporate world, it is due to the unwavering global economic forces coming into play, and the fact that the recession in the developed world has simply outlasted the recession in the developing world. The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” she says.

“On the other hand, developing economies such as the Indian economy are screaming out for qualified labour because of their sustained growth rates,” Wilson said.

“As a result, there’s less emigration to the UAE. Consequently, the difference between a typical Westerner’s salary and a typical Asian’s salary is continuing to reduce,” she concludes.

“The empirical proof of this is all around us. We’re more frequently seeing Westerners working in bars, restaurants and retail chains and, reciprocally, we are seeing more Asians in the office environment than ever before,” she says.

Have you noticed the same here in the UAE? Is the pay-gap indeed shrinking or is it just another myth? Share your experience in comments below.

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