Middle East expatriates the highest earners, says HSBC survey

Expatriates based in the Middle East earn more than anywhere else according to a new survey, even as the low oil price threatens to slow growth.

The UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman were among the top 10 most popular destinations for expats to relocate, according to an annual HSBC survey.

The UAE jumped 6 places to become the 9th best destination for expats, up from 15th place in last year’s survey.

The average salary of survey respondents in the UAE was $120,000. That’s almost twice the World Bank’s estimate of per capita income in the UAE ($60,866 in 2011), and significantly higher than the median salary in Abu Dhabi – $89,000, according to the Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi.

But the UAE’s popularity as a place to save cash could be under threat as living costs mount.

Rents have been rising at double-digit rates, and the low oil price is encouraging the government to cut spending on subsidies and grants by as much as Dh20 billion this year. The UAE has been rising higher in the global cost of living indexes in recent years, as increasing rent prices, school fees and fuel and utilities costs push up inflation. Dubai is now the world’s 23rd most expensive place to live, and Abu Dhabi the 33rd, according to a survey that placed the two cities 67th and 68th, respectively, last year.

Abu Dhabi now has some of the highest rents in the world, according to one survey from CBRE that placed the emirate second among all housing markets the company studied. Consumer prices rose by 6.1 per cent in Abu Dhabi in the 12 months to August.

While property prices are now falling in Dubai, that has followed a spike in rents that pushed housing costs up to levels not reached since before the 2008 financial crisis.

Bahrain ranked as the Gulf’s most popular destination for expats, who think it’s a better place to bring up children – and more fun – than anywhere else in the region. Expats believe that it is the fourth-best place to relocate in the world, after Singapore, New Zealand and Sweden.

Expat Bahraini residents’ main concern is that salaries in the kingdom are not as high as those in Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, or the UAE, the survey said.

The survey, conducted online by polling company YouGov, polled 21,950 expats across 39 countries.

In the UAE sample, 31 per cent of those polled were British expats, with a further 30 per cent of expats coming from India and Pakistan. About 17 per cent of UAE expats polled worked in financial services.


Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Share This Post