Expats are choosing to call the UAE ‘home’ for increasingly longer periods of time and investing more in their homes than they have in the past, due to a shift in salary packages on offer from employers.A recent survey on the salary packages of multinational companies in the Middle East has revealed the traditional focus of high basic salaries and cash allowances is shifting towards long-term incentives and ‘protection’ benefits which are enticing expats to stay longer.
The changes in benefit practices are being driven by the continuing increase in multinational companies based in the region, expansion of the expatriate workforce, and greater mobility of expatriates between jobs.
“Increasingly, expatriates are making a long-term commitment to living in the UAE due to new employment incentives that encourage long service and also a greater understanding that the UAE is a safe place to raise a family,” said Ajai Kumar Dayal, General Manager - Retail and Marketing, Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG), distributors for Better Life, United Colours of Benetton, ID Design, and Leigh’s Paints.
“In the past, it was common for people to come to the UAE with a two or three year plan, but now people are deciding to stay, to raise and school their children, and make a home for themselves here,” added Dayal.
According to the results of the survey, pensions and medical, life and disability insurance, and lifestyle benefits such as company car allowances and leave entitlements are proving increasingly important, while allowances for housing, transport and education remain popular.
Many employers are motivated to focus on benefit provision, not only to respond to competitive pressures but also erosion in value of cash-based remuneration paid in local currencies which are pegged to the weakening American dollar.
Almost all companies in the Middle East provide additional perks and allowances to their expatriates. These vary between countries and employers, but the majority provide allowances for housing, schooling and flights home. In the UAE specifically, 86% of multinationals in the survey provide housing allowances, while 90% provide support with schooling. All participants, without exception, provide allowances for return flights to expatriates’ home country.
“There has been a noticeable shift in the number of expats buying high-quality home appliances over the past few years. People not longer want appliances that are inexpensive and perform for the short-term, but appliances from trusted brands, that will last longer, and have excellent resale value if and when the time comes for them to move,” added Dayal.