View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Expats Need Dh10,000 a Month to Bring Family to UAE

Minimum Salary
The UAE government has this month (July 2009) raised the minimum monthly salary to Dh10,000 (US$2,723; ₤1,667; AUS$3,410; 130, 176 Rps.) as the new level for expat workers wishing to bring their spouse and family to the Emirates.

This represents a massive increase from the previous level of Dh6,000.

Earlier decisions had lifted the salary level by smaller increments from Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 and then to Dh6,000.

This new decision highlights the soaring cost of living in the UAE in recent years that has led many expats to send their family back to their homeland or to throw in their job and join them.

Salary Plus Independent Living
The new law not only raises the salary bar but requires the family to rent an independent house or apartment.

This will be tough for many couples and families who have previously chosen to share rooms in the one dwelling as rents have gone through the roof. Shared living has often been a cultural tradition not just an economic necessity.

Many single men are currently living in rooms of a house with five, six or even ten other men in order to keep down their living costs.

Sentenced to Separation
It is good to have a law that reflects realistically the cost of living in the UAE but the massive minimum salary hike and independent living rule will dash the hopes of many lowly paid expats. Unfortunately incomes have not increased as expenditure has climbed.

Many taxi drivers pulling in a shifting monthly salary of Dh3-4,000 have been dreaming of the day that their partner might join them from Pakistan. Now they are consigned to an existence of seeing their family one month a year or every eighteen months.

Expats from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh and the Philippines will continue to come to the UAE as the jobs and incomes are more promising that what is on offer at home. The commitment to support their families and their strong sense of duty will mean that they and their families will live largely separated lives.

Laws to Keep Families Together
There is no pressure on the UAE government and employers to increase the minimum salaries because, as the saying goes, “there’s plenty more workers back in your home land who will take your job if you don’t want it!”

But to a culture that places such value on the family it would be good to see salary levels raised and laws instituted that were aimed at keeping families together.

Abdullah Rasheed, Salary Norm for Family Visas to Be Revised, Gulf News, 1 July 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Image: “It would be good to see salary levels raised and laws instituted that were aimed at keeping families together.”