Revealed: the top ten paid individuals in the UAE

486The 10 highest earning chief executives in the UAE make several million dirhams a year, taking home a total of Dh78.14 million in salaries and bonuses in 2013 alone, according to a new survey.

A study conducted by, an Arabic website, which looked at the income of 30 top-ranking officials of listed companies in Dubai and Abu Dhabi last year, showed that three executives from Etisalat and one from Emaar, the developer of Burj Khalifa, were among the UAE’s ten biggest earners in 2013. One of the executives made more than a million dirhams a month. The lowest monthly income stood at little over Dh400,000.

Seven out of the ten highest paid officials work for companies based in Abu Dhabi, while the rest are based in Dubai. Males dominated the list and only one woman chief executive, who used to work for Emaar Properties, made it to the top ten.

The biggest earner, Etisalat CEO Ahmad Julfar, took home Dh17.27 million in 2013, or about Dh1.4 million a month.

Dubai, meanwhile, emerged as the third most expensive city in the Middle East for expats, after Tel Aviv and Beirut. Abu Dhabi follows Dubai at number four. Jeddah, on the other hand, ranked the region’s least expensive city.

“Several cities in the Middle East experienced a jump in the ranking, as they are being pushed up by other locations’ decline, as well as the strong increase for expatriate rental accommodation costs, particularly in Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” stated Nathalie Constantin-Métral, Mercer’s Principal.

The survey compares the price of housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment in the world, with currency movements having been measured against the US dollar.

In previous years, employees in the UAE considered stability and a company’s reputation, in addition to salary, before taking up a job, said Rayhana Levy, recruitment and team manager at Hays, a recruitment firm. However, as rental rates and other costs go up, employees today “look at money as a key motivational factor [before accepting a job],” she told Gulf News.

As property sales and value growth decline, the rise in rental charges is becoming a key driver in Dubai’s residential property market. Rental growth in Dubai outstripped that in London and Hong Kong in the first three months of the year, according to a recent report from real estate consultancy, Knight Frank. “In Dubai, prime rents continue to outpace wage inflation. This is raising concerns about affordability,” it stated in the report.

Meanwhile, few other African cities were ranked among the top 20 most expensive cities for expats, as a result of high living costs and prices of goods for expatriate employees. Victoria in The Seychelles was at number 13, followed by Libreville in Gabon at number 19.

Karachi, meanwhile, ranked 211, as the world’s least expensive city.

Cities in Australia and Canada, however, went down the rankings. As the Australian dollar has depreciated against the US dollar, Sydney is ranked as the 26th most expensive city for expats, while Melbourne is ranked 33rd, having dropped 17 places from last year. And Perth at number 37, fell 19 places. Vancouver in Canada, meanwhile, fell 32 spots to 96th this year.

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