Salaries in Dubai

Apr 21 '06 33 Last Comment
Apr 21, 06 4:49 pm

What sort of salaries do architects get in Dubai?


sporadic supernova
Apr 23, 06 12:47 am


where are you from ..?
what's the lettering on your passport ..?
what race do you belong to ..?
where did you study/graduate from ..?
how much experience do you have ..? (actually .. that's not too inportant.. but the rest are ..)

sporadic supernova
Apr 23, 06 12:47 am

* important

Apr 23, 06 4:08 pm

ok, I'll play...

From? Chicago, Miami

Passport? USA

Race? Caucasian

Graduate? UFlorida

Experience? 1 year

SO supernova, what'll they pay me?

Apr 23, 06 5:34 pm

I've worked in Dubai for a couple of years (between 99 and 01) and from the information you gave I can say that you can make anyware between US$2500-3500/month.

Supernova forgot to mention that it also depends on the kind of company you'll be working for: local, foreign, multi-national, mixed, big, small.. etc.

Apr 23, 06 6:32 pm

that doesn't seem like very much. at all.

sporadic supernova
Apr 24, 06 1:19 am

mmm ... things looks good for you AP ...

By my estimates.. you should get between $4500 - $5500 . At least in my firm that's what you would get. but my firm is a big multi-national (thanks frozenmusic) and are generally good paymasters. but i've heard of some firms paying upto $7000/- for someone with your experience... but thats rare

the salary that frozenmusic mentioned would be applicable for local firms, I wouldnt know coz i never applied to any of the local firms.

they money is actually good. what you dont realize is that by local rates ... it would go a long way. you can actually have a blast

Apr 24, 06 2:43 am

another thing to take note: you don't pay taxes in dubai. at least that's what i understand from my friends who live there (they're not UAE citizens). that makes a huge difference too.

sporadic supernova
Apr 24, 06 2:59 am

yeah thats true ... no tax ..

but they do disguise in other terms ...
eg; .. no housing "tax" .. but housing "fees" ..

but it wont hurt you like taxes would ...

sporadic supernova
Apr 24, 06 2:59 am

yeah thats true ... no tax ..

but they do disguise in other terms ...
eg; .. no housing "tax" .. but housing "fees" ..

but it wont hurt you like taxes would ...

Apr 24, 06 9:41 am

that sounds more financially lucrative...maybe something to consider to pre-pay impending grad school debt...

Apr 24, 06 9:57 am

I've heard that some firms provide housing in addition to a salary. Is that true?

Apr 24, 06 4:44 pm

As far as I know that's true for construction companies who hire architects among others (possibly as project/construction managers) or architecture practices owned by or a part of a larger construction group. However, I've heard of managers in some architecture firms being offered nice villas to live in with their families and in some cases even a car..

Apr 24, 06 5:14 pm

What would be some examples of firms and construction companies that are offering great pay [5500-7000] per month and living accomidations.

Apr 24, 06 7:12 pm

i'd like to know what that salary is relative to, how does it compare to the cost of living? $5500-7000/month is good money, but that can mean so many different things. $7000/month in NY is different than $7k/month in billings which is different than $7000/month in dubai.

although i guess this all goes out the window if they're paying for housing/car. still, what the cost of living?

sporadic supernova
Apr 25, 06 5:54 am

Well, there are firms that do offer you a place to stay .. but you have to be very assertive about it during the initial negotiation.

normally, people who gets an external contract ( ie; hired from another country but working in dubai) do get nice villas to stay in and usually even a car .... the streets are filled with people driving SUVs, Porches, ferraris and jaguars. all on company account .

a low end Studio flat (mine) would cost you around $1000/month + electricity + water .. its not too bad if you get a decent salary, but the prices are on the rise like crazy !! .. and nowadays it's fashionable to complain about the escalating costs and how thing are not how they used to be !! .. :)

Apr 25, 06 7:05 am

Hopefully you'll earn more than the migrant construction workers: $4 per day.

Read more

Apr 27, 06 9:56 am

Hey SS,

What do you suggest as the best way to start looking for positions in Dubai? Is there a good website where jobs are posted or anywhere that has a list of firms that have offices in the city?

sporadic supernova
May 3, 06 12:51 am

hmm ... havent really seen any that lists all the firms that have offices in the city ... but for job listings you could check out the "appointments pages" in

May 4, 06 6:07 am

well infos have any idea about interior designers like how much they can get ? :)

Jun 23, 07 5:05 pm

hey guys

if you don't mind i'd like to probe all of you for some information and play the same game everyone else is playing. how much would an architect make in dubai?

from: chicago
passport: usa
education: university of illinois Bach, March. MSCE
nationality: american
ethnicity: chinese
experience: 2 years, high rise residential

The reason i'm asking is because i've heard rumors that there are some in dubai who establish their salary rates more on ethnicity(the way you look) than on merit. As american who is asian, will i be treated differently than other americans? And if this is true about dubai, how prevalant is it?

thank you.

Jun 24, 07 10:43 am

Having worked in Dubai for almost a year, here are my thoughts.

I am an Australian architect


1-2 years experience you are looking at about $2500-$4000 in a foreign office. I have 6 years post grad experience and I was on $6500. I was offered another job at $7500. If you go for more 'design' firms then this is what you are looking at. If you go for construction firms and the like you may get a bit more. 'Local' companies won't pay as much as foreign ones.

Your salary will really depend on your bargaining power. You can get shafted really easily. Some skills; 3D work, presentation goes along way as there is allot of front end work done over there. So if you are good with 3D then you could get a pretty good salary. Salaries do vary allot so ask for as much as possible.

Very few people, unless you are senior get accommodation. Maybe a hotel for a few weeks. They don't really do that anymore....


This is not really a problem if you have graduated from US, Europe, Aus. regardless of your skin colour. I believe if you have a good folio and speak fairly articulately you will be fine. It is only the shopkeepers, construction workers, cooks from asia that get scraps

Living costs

Rental costs are high, hard to get a place and you have to pay at least 1/4 to 1/2 of a years rent upfront. A one bedroom apartment was $1800/m including bills. sharing is cheaper, up to you. Go to
You will need a car. Buy or lease ($700/m)
Entertainment costs are high - $6-8 for a drink. If you are on less than $3000/m you would be much better off in the US


No tax....for most. I was told that US citizens have to pay 20% back home. You need to check this. I think it is true.


I would go directly to the firms and send your cv. They recruit allot from the UK say try some employment agencies there. It can be hard finding who actually works there; your best bet is word of mouth.

here are some of the better foreign practices:

woodsbagot (my office)
cox richardson
Atkins - do some good work but commercial rubish mainly
Norr Group

there are a few more but they are just setting up and hard to find. You will have to hunt them down somehow. Look for buildings that interest you and try try hunt down the office. Allot of the interesting stuff is done offshore and shipped out to Dubai.

hope this helps

Jun 25, 07 3:31 pm

Great to read this I have been recently approached by a former colleague of mine which is on his own in Dubai. I have done some consulting (moonlighting) on the side for him in the past, so I know the work he does is not commercial "rubbish".
What concearns me most is safety, cost of living/ taxes back in the US *(earning money abroad). I'm looking at roughly 140k/yr and by the sounds of it, it's enough.
I've asked before...but as a naive american, I've heard that Dubai is extremely safe...but I've also read about the massive ammounts of low paid workers and how some can lean towards the extreme side of things.
Other questions: Do you need a car? is driving around safe? do I need a visa to work there? medical insurance/coverage-health system? etc...

Jun 25, 07 5:27 pm

J3.....I just want to know do they hire Old work in Dabai?

Jun 25, 07 6:47 pm

what? who's an old fart?

Jun 25, 07 7:01 pm

Have drawn on linen
Have drawn on vellum
have drawn on bum wad
Have drawn on mylar
Have done pin bar overlay
Have worked on a 286 computer (so I know what regen means)
Have worked on Autocad 2007
Have Wife and Dogs to I need to work for more than food.

Plus: I know how to finish concrete

are they hiring old farts?

Jun 25, 07 10:35 pm

the only thing that can harm you in Dubai is loosing your car in the carpark with your groceries in hand in summer. That, I found was a very harrowing experience! :-)

Very safe

need visa

insurance usually covered by employer

You need a car. There is a train being built but it is a year or so off.

Old farts are in high demand!

Jun 26, 07 12:41 pm

Traffic in Dubai is hell. It's actually a bit of a clusterfuck. Parking is truly a pain and there is no true downtown urban experience. You need a car to get anywhere and you'll get stuck for miles. And their new high speed metro isn't going to be in service until about 2014.

Other than that, people there are pretty nice generally. It's a safe place with an extremely strict legal infrastructure. Therefore, there isn't any rampant crime at all, only the normal stuff you can expect from a big metropolitan area and even that doesn't compare. As a matter of fact, the only thing I usually hear about in terms of crime is a few organized crime cases.

In terms of salaries, you'll get a little more in Dubai or about the same. It really depends on your credentials and experience. But most places that were interested in hiring me there were offering significantly more than I would be making in say, Washington DC. It's music to their ears when you tell them you've had your training in America. Trust me. But as architecture firms, the local firms do things way differently. They are usually consultant firms who have a division for architecture, for lighting, and for all the other specialties.

Also you will never see a more diverse place there. Arabic of course is the main language, but since there are so many people, most people speak English. I would even go so far as to say that you can get by there for years without a word of Arabic.

Dubai is a decent city, but it will take a while before it can be a great city. Right now, there is no true identity, and there are many pending problems that people aren't really addressing. I decided to stay in the states because it's a better fit for me right now. It's too hot and I didn't want to drop off the face of the planet and be far from the fam.

But I've been back and fourth from there since I was little (in the 80s). So if you have any questions about it, please let me know.

The Thriller in Manila
May 15, 08 4:04 pm

Are your chances less if your black? (American and educated in the US)

May 15, 08 5:52 pm

Aedas have a lot of work out there (they are doing the metro, and pentominium tower among others).

Remember also that the working week, at least in the Dubai office of my firm, is 47.5 hours. Apparently it was 50, but we are nice guys and cut it to 47.5. That is the standard. Expect to work longer hours still.

Realise that while there is little crime, and no tax, there is also very little in the way of legal protection. If the guy tells you he's keeping your deposit, he is keeping your deposit. If they tell you your job is over, your job is over.

May 15, 08 9:58 pm


the Metro will be running by Sept. 2009, not 2014.

working week for most 'western based' firms is about 42 hrs/week.

there is SO much work that even an "old fart" could find work.

May 26, 08 10:26 pm

i think there are a lot of opportunities for old farts with CA experience since so many people seem to be needed on site during construction from the architect's office.... it seems like my firm has a whole army of people who are only doing CA work

May 30, 08 1:18 pm

what are the requirements to get an arc license there?

Feb 14, 12 11:02 am

I've heard that in Dubai an architect from a big project like skyscraper like burj Al Arab , trum tower take 1000000/1500000$ to sometimes 2000000$ but from what i can read the salaries are not very big i think in europe you can get more 

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