The average income of an expat is now 570,000 AED a year, or 47,500 AED a month, according to a new survey by HSBC.
HSBC interviewed 859 expats in the emirates for the survey, in a list clearly skewed towards a top end demographic that HSBC targets for its customers. Two thirds of those interviewed have lived in the UAE for more than five years.
Despite that skew, the survey is interesting because the bank interviews the same demographic across the world, probably best described as white collar, senior and highly mobile, global work warriors, or GWWS for short. Some 22,000 GWWs were interviewed globally.
For these Global Work Warriors the UAE is said to be the 10th best country in the world to live and work. The UAE dropped three places after ranking 7th in 2017.
In terms of the Economy the UAE now ranks 4th however, up one place from last year. The country's Achilles Heel? In terms of Experience it ranks 16th, and for Families the UAE sits in 19th place.
The UAE is clearly a destination for those interested in improving their position financially. More than half of those surveyed said the reason they relocated to the UAE was the chance to increase their earnings. A fifth said their salaries doubled when they made the move.
Overall, 71% of the expats in the UAE surveyed would recommend the country to someone looking for a new life abroad
“The financial benefits of a new life here can be substantial,” the report said, although 39 per cent of respondents said they were concerned about job security. Over two thirds (67%) of those polled having “more disposable income thanks to higher earnings and the tax-free environment”.
In fact, and contrary to that statement, the UAE can no longer claim to be tax free since the introduction of VAT, while higher costs of living offset, to a degree dependent on lifestyle, zero income tax. Clearly however for the UAE's highest earners these costs are proving less burdensome than for its low income workers.
VAT is described as a "regressive tax", because it is a tax applied uniformly, and therefore takes a larger percentage of income from low-income earners than from high-income earners.
Switzerland topped the list of destinations for GWWs offering the highest incomes, with an average expat salary of 196,725 Swiss francs (Dhs732,000). The UAE came in sixth place in terms of salaries.
Bahrain was deemed the best country in the Middle East to live and work, and ranked fifth in the world overall.
Overall, Singapore tops the list for the fourth year running, followed by New Zealand, Germany and Canada.