In a relatively short period of time, Dubai has established itself as one of the most prominent cities in the world. It has become a renowned travel destination due to its towering modern architecture, luxurious accommodations, fine cuisine and a shopper’s paradise of everything from traditional marketplaces to high fashion malls. It also doesn’t hurt that it boasts an impressive list of high-profile stars who have taken up residence in the city. Who wouldn’t savour the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of David and Victoria Beckham, Madonna, Aishwarya Rai, Roger Federer and Giorgio Armani?
Those luxury homes and high-rise apartments aren’t filled exclusively with celebs, of course. As a rapidly expanding international business hub, Dubai has also attracted a steady influx of ambitious individuals and major corporations looking to capitalise on new markets and opportunities. Since you’re reading this article, we’re guessing you might also be considering a strategic relocation to the UAE.
One of the fundamental tips to working abroad is to secure a job before making the move. This is especially true in Dubai, where a sponsoring employer is essential to getting both your residency visa and work permit. To make the move worthwhile, you’ll want to find a job that not only suits your skillset and adds valuable experience for your career but also rewards you financially.
To that end, we’ve put together a list of the highest-paying jobs in Dubai. It should give you an idea of which industries are the most lucrative, as well as whether your blend of education and skills will help you secure one of the best positions.
Average salary: AED 60,900 ($16,600)
Though oil revenue helped kickstart Dubai’s growth and expansion, today the emirate’s economy relies more on industries like tourism, aviation and real estate. Businesses across all sectors need someone to manage their finances, so accounting jobs are plentiful.
Those who decide to become an accountant must not only be good with basic mathematics; they must be savvy with a variety of spreadsheet and database software. The modern accountant can also be called upon to do complex financial analysis, so possessing an analytical brain capable of problem-solving and critical thinking is also essential.
Just be aware that Dubai is not necessarily the place to kick off your accounting career. Competition is fierce, and many companies in Dubai prefer hiring chartered or certified accountants with at least a few years of experience. Those with more experience and credentials get a shot at the highest salaries, of course, with a role as management accountant potentially bringing in two to four times more monthly income than a more generalised accounting position.
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6. Mechanical engineer
Average salary: AED 79,300 ($21.600)
As you’ll see from our list, engineering is one of the most lucrative career options in Dubai. Mechanical engineers research, design and build all things mechanical. The city’s automotive and aviation industries will obviously provide a huge opportunity for job options, but that’s not all.
Mechanical engineers also have a hand in many aspects of building construction, including heating and air systems, electrical generators and elevators. Aside from Dubai’s ongoing construction boom, you also have the option of working in the medical industry, designing medical devices and equipment.
You’ll need a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and many students go on to collect a master’s degree as well. Along with mathematics and mechanical expertise, potential employers will be looking for other desirable job skills like problem-solving, creativity and teamwork.
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5. Electrical engineer
Average salary: AED 85,000 ($23,100)
Electrical engineers often work side by side with mechanical engineers, designing and building the electrical components that give power to the machines their colleagues have designed. Aside from engineering components in the automotive, aviation and medical fields, electrical engineers may also work on designing, implementing and inspecting products for telecommunications and navigation systems.
The highest-paying jobs in Dubai require a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering or a closely related engineering field. Degree programmes for those who want to become an electrical engineer are available at many universities around the globe, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, ETH Zurich in Switzerland and, locally, the University of Dubai.
A variety of technical and soft skills are essential for an electrical engineer. Aside from an understanding of electrical circuitry and computer coding, critical thinking, communication and creativity are also highly valued. With complex projects and looming deadlines a standard part of an electrical engineer’s day, many job openings in Dubai also list organisational and time management skills as requirements.
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4. Civil engineer
Average salary: AED 88,000 ($24,000)
Dubai is a grand, modern city built in the middle of a desert, a feat of design, architecture and engineering that boasts the tallest building in the world, one of the largest shopping malls in the world and man-made islands that astronauts can see from space. Civil engineers, who are responsible for determining the viability, environmental impact, structural integrity and safety of a city’s infrastructure have been a huge part of Dubai’s development.
Civil engineers lend their expertise to the construction of buildings, streets, airports, bridges, waterways and dams. As a shipping port and gateway for air travellers, Dubai naturally offers a wealth of well-paid job opportunities. You’ll be collaborating with architects, construction workers, government employees and more, so two of the most important skills for civil engineers are communication and negotiation. Fluency in both English and Arabic is useful, as well as other commonly spoken languages like Hindi and Urdu.
Civil engineers need at least a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, but a master’s is often preferred. Becoming a civil engineer requires a large commitment to studies, hands-on training and experience. Aside from technical skills, employers in Dubai will want you to be familiar with local laws and building regulations. Some may request membership in the Society of Engineers – UAE.
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3. Project engineer
Average salary: AED 121,900 ($33,200)
Project engineers can have a background in a variety of engineering disciplines, including the three we’ve listed here. While this is a supervisory role, you won’t just be approving budgets and coordinating work teams on major construction, design or manufacturing ventures. You’ll also need the right expertise to inspect all facets of the project and develop solutions for any problems.
A degree in a related area of engineering and quite a bit of experience is usually required for a job as project engineer. Since you will be collaborating with several different departments as well as being the boss, good interpersonal skills and strong leadership are essential. Once again, skill in additional languages is also helpful and may be required for some jobs.
Aspiring expats typically check salaries and taxes in their desired destination, but you should also look into the culture and employment rights before getting a job abroad. In this case, Dubai does not have the same equal opportunity laws that you may be used to in your country. While the Dubai offices of an American or European corporation may operate similarly to their home base, some job listings for project engineer in Dubai specify a preferred nationality and will only interview male candidates.
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2. Business development manager
Average salary: AED 185,400 ($50,500)
A business development manager is responsible for expanding a company’s profile and client list. You’ll be directing sales and marketing teams but will also take the lead on finding and facilitating new business relationships as well as maintaining or improving existing connections. Business development managers need to be extremely skilled in the arts of persuasion and negotiation.
It’s not an easy role to just step into another country, so employers will tend to want someone who already has some contacts and experience working in Dubai or elsewhere in the region. Many jobs also require fluency in both English and Arabic.
In some countries, you may have worked your way up to a development manager position through your years of experience in sales or marketing. Depending on the industry and size of the company, however, Dubai employers frequently ask for candidates with a bachelor’s in business, marketing or a related field. Some even require a master’s degree for this challenging role.
1. Operations manager
Average salary: AED 210,800 ($57,400)
As you’ve probably noticed from our list, the highest-paying jobs in Dubai are those with the most responsibility. Operations managers make sure everything in the company is working for peak productivity and profit. They may oversee staffing, workflow, manufacturing operations and department budgets.
Depending on the business, you may specialise in one area, handling all staffing, training, legal issues and efficiency for HR, for instance. No matter what department or sector you work in, you’ll need excellent organisational, communication and time management skills.
While some operations manager positions in Dubai require a bachelor’s degree in a business or related field, most companies are more interested in your experience in their industry. When writing your executive CV, you’ll want to put emphasis on your related work history and your accomplishments in streamlining and improving those operations.
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We hope this list of highest-paying jobs in Dubai has helped you understand more about the employment market and the opportunities available. If you’ve decided to relocate to Dubai, you should definitely review our guide to working in the UAE.
Did we miss out on a well-paid job in Dubai? Join the conversation below and let us know!
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published in July 2014. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by XE.com on 3 October 2019.