How to Negotiate Your Salary as an Indian in Dubai

Salary negotiation is always a tricky skill, but one that is also essential to master. Learn how to negotiate your salary as an Indian working in Dubai with these tips from our guide.
negotiate your salary as an indian in dubai

The oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE) relies heavily on large numbers of foreign workers to sustain economic growth and a high standard of living. Thanks to its proximity to South Asia, this workforce consists of millions of immigrants, primarily from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.  Migrant workers also come from Nepal and Sri Lanka to take advantage of the thriving economy and plentiful job opportunities to form the majority of the current workforce.

While many immigrants successfully join the Dubai economy, they also face challenges like being underpaid and overworked in harsh conditions with little recourse from precarious situations. With these negotiation strategies for Indians, you can be sure to obtain better wages that will allow you to enjoy life in the UAE. If your goal is to send money to friends and family back home, consider using some of these salary negotiation strategies to ensure that you earn enough money.

Remember to Understand Your Anticipated Salary

In Dubai, your salary will depend on several factors, including your qualifications, years of experience, whether or not you have obtained your drivers’ license, and the company that you decide to work for. Some workers prefer working for older, established companies, while others are willing to risk future job security for higher wages at smaller startup companies. The choice depends on your risk tolerance. With a diploma and working English fluency, you can secure a back-office job, even if you don’t have much experience or a driver’s license. In this situation, expect to earn about AED 3000-4000 each month.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, a worker with a post-graduate degree, at least five years working the field (especially in the same sector in Dubai), can earn more than AED 15,000 per month. For most employees, two years of additional experience working in Dubai will generally lead to a 20% pay increase.

Calculate Your Projected Expenses

Many Indians look forward to the ability to send some of their earnings back home to family and friends. Costs of living in Dubai are relatively high, but there are plenty of ways to optimize your salary by negotiating for higher pay and managing your expenses. A typical boarding setup with multiple roommates will cost between AED 500-1500 every month, or less, depending on the conditions that you’re willing to tolerate. Some employers even provide accommodation as an added benefit.

A single bedroom flat costs between AED 3000-4000 every month, which can be prohibitive for a low-skilled worker. Plan to spend between AED 500-2000 per month on your remaining expenses, like food, transportation, and entertainment. You can save more money by cooking at home and sharing costs with multiple roommates.

Salary Negotiation is Culturally Appropriate

As an Indian in Dubai, you must advocate for your worth. Otherwise, you’ll leave potential wages in the pockets of your employer. To negotiate your salary as an Indian in Dubai, carefully follow the guidelines in this post. Salary negotiation in Dubai requires an exceptionally shrewd set of skills since it is practically an art form. Knowing how to navigate the system can often help you secure a significantly higher salary than if you were to simply take what you were initially offered.

It’s culturally appropriate and expected for you to negotiate your salary. This practice is widespread and generally accepted, so you should feel entitled to ask for the compensation you deserve. These tips will help you understand the typical protocol and procedure for asking for a higher salary and show you how to prepare your best case for higher wages.

UAE's Immigrant Workforce

Since 1975, the population of non-nationals in the UAE workforce has outpaced the number of nationals residing in the UAE, resulting in one of the world’s highest population growth rates. Most of the workers who find employment in the UAE are low-skilled and semi-skilled workers. A smaller number of highly-skilled executive-level workers immigrate from North America and Europe to work in the UAE.

This group of skilled migrant worked have been able to find some success in the UAE, experiencing meaningful employment and a higher standard of living by coming to work in the UAE. It all comes down to finding the right job willing to pay you the wages that you deserve.

Here, you’ll learn how to negotiate your salary as an Indian in Dubai. To do that, you must follow these salary negotiation tips that will help you secure the highest pay for the work you perform.

Why is it important to negotiate your salary as an Indian working in Dubai?

Housing

Housing is one of the most significant expenses that you’ll encounter working in Dubai. Without enough consistent income, you’ll join the ranks of many immigrants who are forced to move from house to house like nomads. Worse still, the cost of housing is continually on the rise. While it is possible to look for employment in other, more affordable Emirates, Dubai is the business hub with the most opportunity.

Some commute further to work or share an apartment with roommates to save on costs. Without a salary that will cover your necessary expenses, you’re better off not making the costly move to Dubai.

Quality of Life

Your salary will directly impact your quality of life in the UAE. If you don’t negotiate a salary that is enough to afford your basic expenses, you won’t enjoy your time there.

It is expensive to live in some parts of Dubai. Unfortunately,  foreign workers often find themselves in difficult positions since there are no family members or available resources to help them cope with challenging situations.

Education

Indians who are also supporting dependents will recognize that the cost of education is quite high. Salary negotiation for Indians is imperative if you wish to provide your children with costly access to the best schools in the UAE. 

What should you prepare to negotiate your salary as an Indian in Dubai?

1. Research the salary and benefits typically offered by the company

Before you go into the interview, you should have a good idea of what you’ll be awarded and what working for this company will mean for you. Companies with good prospects for future growth, for example, should be treated differently than positions that will likely be static without greater future earning potential. Look up normal salary ranges on web portals to arm yourself with accurate numbers before your interview.

2. Determine how much you're worth

Look at several salary tools, like Glassdoor,  to find out how much you should be paid. Make sure to look at positions that reflect your level of skill, education, and experience within your chosen field. Be prepared to argue how much you deserve and justify it. Companies should also determine the minimum and maximum salary that they can pay you. This is called performing a job evaluation exercise. If you are asked what you think your salary should be, first ask if they’ve determined how much they should be paying you before you answer. If they haven’t completed the exercise, you’ll be prepared with a well-reasoned answer to seek your highest salary.

3. Consider the entire offer

Most often, the salary is only one portion of the complete package offered to a potential employee. If there are other benefits, like healthcare, moving expenses, or routine expense perks, factor those into your budget to understand the real value of your compensation.

If you can, seek company accommodation (since housing is expensive) and medical insurance because medical treatment is costly in the UAE. A package that includes those benefits may be worth more to you than a package with a higher salary and fewer benefits. Feel free to ask for time to review the whole offer.

Photo by Bram Naus on Unsplash

What are the top 10 salary negotiation tips for Indians in Dubai?

1. Do Your Research

Know your industry-standard wages backward and forwards so that you can keep your cool as you negotiate. This knowledge will keep you within the salary bands that companies are inclined to offer without exceeding them. That will help you avoid potentially losing the offer to an employee willing to settle for a lower salary. In short, know your competition.

2. Don't be emotional

Be objective in your dealings with your future employer. If you feel slighted, don’t let that show. Simply assert yourself to negotiate your salary as an Indian in Dubai.

Stay positive and maintain your professional presence as you iron out the details. Keeping a clear head will help you secure the best salary, and confidently presenting these facts will help you come across as professional and self-assured.

3. Consider the whole package

Take a look at what benefits are included, if there are any. If your housing accommodations or moving expenses, for example, are covered by your employer, you can save or send home whatever money you would have had to spend elsewhere.

Take the opportunity to seek additional benefits from your employer. Ask for medical insurance, more paid vacation time, or even the chance to work from home if you’d like to. These all add value to your employment package and can easily make quite a difference.

4. Don't tell your employer what your salary should be

As previously mentioned, companies should perform a job evaluation exercise to know precisely how much or how little they’re willing to pay to do a job. If they ask you to name a number, turn the question back to them; otherwise, you may wind up shortchanging yourself.

5. Know how much you're worth

Don’t agree to the first offer. Negotiation is the best strategy for getting a better salary in Dubai. Feel free to ask your employer’s permission to take a day or two to consider their offer of employment.

This will give you the chance to properly evaluate your whole employment offer and prepare to counter it, if necessary. Occasionally, employers will request payslips to verify your previous salary if you ask them to match it. You need not agree to provide it, and you should avoid that line of discussion at all costs.

6. Consider all of the elements of the employment package

Sometimes, the most effective negotiation strategy is to ask for perks that might help offset some of your expenses instead of looking for a higher salary. Accommodation, vehicle, furnishings, food, and health insurance allowances, along with future paid vacation days, could save you quite a bit of money or add a significant amount of value to your package over a higher outright salary. Gratuity pay can also be quite lucrative but less predictable than a pay check.

7. Be mindful of growth potential

To accurately assess an offer of employment, consider the long-term potential for growth. If you’re working with a startup set to grow rapidly, you may get a raise. If you’ll be stuck in the same position without the chance to climb the corporate ladder, acknowledge that as you compare what your offer is worth to you. If applicable, negotiate performance-based incentives (especially at smaller startup operations) if the company can’t give you the initial salary you want.

8. Project a confident image

Explain your facts and figures with clarity and ease. Rehearse them until your negotiation feels easy. Make eye contact, speak clearly and thoughtfully convey your intentions.

9. Get it in writing

When you are satisfied with the results of your negotiation, get a written copy of your contract. Carefully review so that you’re pleased with what you’ll be getting.

10. Practice your pitch

Train yourself to handle these negotiations. Money isn’t the most comfortable topic. If you know what you need to say and practice saying it, you’ll have a better command of your future negotiations.

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What should you avoid during salary negotiation in Dubai?

When you negotiate your salary as an Indian in Dubai, be sure to avoid the following fatal mistakes. Rushing into any decision will leave you wide open to regrets later on.

1. Don't start talking about salary right away

Talking about money can be awkward but necessary. Instead of bringing up the topic suddenly, work your way up to the actual negotiation. Be subtle but firm when you bring up the subject of your salary. When you do discuss salary, don’t volunteer how much you earned at your previous job.

Employers use the shrewd tactic of limiting you based on your past performance, and you should not fall for it. Instead, maintain your value proposition and know how you stack up against the other people competing for this job in this field. Having those facts at hand will help you convincingly present your case for a higher, more competitive salary, especially if you’ve practiced these arguments and convey these thoughts.

2. Don't accept the first offer that you're given

Unless you’re offered well above what you’d expected, ask for time to reflect and truly understand your offer of employment. If you need to negotiate, request some time to understand the full value of your perks. Know that salary negotiation in Dubai occurs quite frequently. If you want the best salary and benefits, you may have to ask for it and justify the increase.

3. Don't undervalue Your Perks

Yes, your salary is important, but so are the other components of your package. An accommodation allowance of AED 650 per month over a 1-year contract essentially adds AED 7,800 of value to your agreement. Costly private medical insurance and other benefits like paid vacation time also figure into the more accurate picture of your contract’s value. Evaluate the whole package. If you can’t increase the salary directly, look for other benefits that might give you an equivalent advantage.

Conclusion

If you are just starting out on your job search journey, we’d be glad see you through your journey here on GrabJobs.

As one of the millions of Indians working in Dubai, prepare to negotiate your salary with these tips. Intelligently discussing your salary with your employer is essential for you to secure wages you can live well on in the UAE. Know what you want when you begin these talks and only settle for what you deserve. The best of luck as you embark on your successful salary negotiations in the UAE!

Valentin Berard

COO at GrabJobs. Valentin leads strategic and operational activities regionally. Background in Business Development and Recruitment. Passionate about social innovation, he constantly strives to find solutions to real-world problems through harnessing smart technology. Read more: https://www.linkedin.com/in/valeberard/