Growth in UAE economy drives demand for skilled professionals, finds Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide

Robert Half outlines top three roles in demand for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and human resources.

• 89% of CFOs are feeling confident about their company growth prospects for the year ahead
• Key drivers include economic diversification and the ongoing digitisation of businesses
• Robert Half outlines top three roles in demand for accounting and finance, financial services, technology and human resources

29 October 2018, Dubai – The UAE’s economic diversification agenda and the growing adoption of digital technologies are two of the biggest drivers in the rise of business confidence across the region. With the majority (89%) of CFOs feeling confident about their company’s growth prospects for the year ahead, demand for specialists with skills in this area is rising.

This increasingly competitive marketplace is shaping the workforce options for professionals today. It’s this evolution of the workplace that has over half (51%) of Dubai leaders and 45% of Abu Dhabi leaders concerned about the considerable effort needed to attract, secure and retain specialist professionals in the future.

Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director of Robert Half UAE commented, “Numerous economic indicators show that business confidence and growth are on the rise in the UAE region, which is creating more opportunities for talented professionals to develop their careers. The pervasiveness of new technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning in every business sector means that people with digital skills and know-how are particularly in demand. Hiring managers need to ensure they have effective recruitment strategies in place to secure their favourite candidates, as well as offer the optimum combination of salaries and benefits.”

The Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide is the most comprehensive and authoritative resource on recruitment trends and starting salaries in the UAE. The Salary Guide enables employers and employees to benchmark starting salaries for a variety of permanent professional roles in the current recruitment landscape.

Accounting and finance

The introduction of VAT will continue to drive the need for accounting and finance professionals with 5-7 years’ experience in accounting and compliance-related roles. The drive to automate financial processes is also fuelling searches for people with strategic and analytic capabilities, as well as those with softer skills like resilience, adaptability and communications, which are all needed to successfully partner with the wider business.

Top 3 most in-demand roles in accounting and finance for 2019

Job role Predicted starting salaries in 2019
Finance Director (large company) $196,200 - $402,800
Financial Planning and Analysis Manager (large company) $98,000 - $147,300
Financial Analyst (large company) $65,200 - $98,000
Source: Robert Half UAE


The technology roles most in-demand are mid-level to managerial, with an emphasis on proven experience in IT project delivery. As organisations are amid their transformation programmes, demand will continue to grow for technology professionals with an understanding of how digital technologies can deliver value by enabling change processes, across new systems and supporting new business models.

Top 3 most in-demand roles in technology for 2019

Job role Predicted starting salaries in 2019
IT Security Analyst $55,600 - $114,400
Applications Developer $52,300 - $125,100
Systems Administrator $46,600 - $78,500
Source: Robert Half UAE

Financial services

The implementation of IFRS 9, VAT and Basel III have forced financial services companies in the UAE to overhaul processes and systems, creating significant demand for compliance professionals. The rise of FinTech businesses in the region will also continue to create opportunities for those with digital expertise, particularly in the sub-sector of RegTech. Vacancies within the financial services sector is rising, exacerbating the ongoing war for talent for professionals with a track-record of adding value. 

Top 3 most in-demand roles in financial services for 2019

Job role Predicted starting salaries in 2019
Compliance Manager $114,400 - $179,800
Investment Banking / M&A Associate $114,600 - $192,100
FX Sales Manager $98,000 - $124,300
Source: Robert Half UAE

Human resources and administration

The rise in innovation and growth projects in the UAE has led to an increase in opportunities for HR professionals, who typically drive recruitment and retention programmes. Experienced office support staff and administrative assistants are also sought after. Administrative professionals with Arabic and English-speaking capabilities can expect the highest levels of remuneration.

Top 3 most in-demand roles in human resources and administration for 2019

Job role Predicted starting salaries in 2019
HR Business Partner $65,400 - $98,000
Head of HR $114,400 - $147,100
Personal Assistant $49,000 - $65,400
Source: Robert Half UAE

El Mettouri concluded, “The evolution of the workplace is seeing businesses needing to fill their ranks with specialist, and digitally skilled professionals. The professionals who possess all of these skills are hard to come by, so to avoid reduced productivity and limited growth with open vacancies, business leaders should consider how they promote their employer brand, company culture and the training and development options to ensure they can attract the necessary talent needed for the future of work.”

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

These starting salary figures are based on a number of sources, most notably the number of placements our recruiting professionals make each year. Our experts interact with hiring managers and candidates daily, which gives us unique, real-world insights into the latest salary and benefits trends.

The projected salaries for each position reflect starting pay only in US dollars. Bonuses and other forms of remuneration, such as pension scheme and long-term incentives, are not taken into account. This is because professionals joining a company may enter at a variety of experience levels and we report salaries in ranges. The ranges represent averages and will vary by industry and hard-to-fill skill sets.

Download the Robert Half 2019 Salary Guide

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. We have once again been named to FORTUNE’s “World’s Most Admired Companies®” list and remains the top-ranked staffing firm (February 2020). Founded in 1948, the company has over 300 offices worldwide, including the UAE, providing recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, legal, human resources and administration professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and jobseeker resources at