Do you have questions about the Cost of Living reports ?

Reader Question  - Compensation InsiderA few weeks ago I introduced the Cost of Living Reports for the UAE, Qatar, KSA and an overall GCC report.

The reports are very comprehensive and include sections on:

  • accommodation costs (very detailed by accommodation type and area in the Dubai and Abu Dhabi)
  • education
  • health
  • transport and travel costs
  • household goods and utility costs
  • lifestyle and hospitality costs
  • as well as commercial property and the costs of setting up and running a business.

There is also a section with salary indications for a number of “standard” positions.

I encourage you to download the table of contents of the UAE report – you will see how incredibly detailed the report is (160 pages) :

Prices are very competitive : AED 4,000 (USD 1,100) for the UAE and Qatar reports, AED 7,000 (USD 1,900) for Saudi Arabia, and AED 9,500 (USD 2,500) for the regional GCC report.

To get a better idea of what’s covered and hear some of the numbers, please listen to these 2 interviews from Nick Nice the COO of Cost of Living Reports, at the Business Breakfast on Dubai Eye :

COL in the UAE:

COL in the GCC :

A free gift if you purchase the GCC Cost of Living report before February 1st

Despite its incredibly low price, Cost of Living Reports are giving away a copy of their 2014 CEO Survey (to be published in Q2) if you buy a GCC report before February 1st, 2014. This is a value of AED 3,000 ! The CEO Survey covers:

  • Global trends transforming the GCC
  • Most pressing issue by vertical
  • What CEOs are doing to manage costs within their industry
  • Short-term confidence by industry
  • And much more……

And a gift from me if you buy any Cost of Living report before February 28, 2014.

I will offer you a free copy of my upcoming ebook about compensation surveys and salary reviews.

The topic fits nicely with how you can use the reports, and I plan to sell the ebook for at least AED 200.

Please give me a little time as this is still work in progress so expect a few weeks before receiving the ebook.

How to receive my free ebook ?

It’s very simple. Simply email me a PDF copy of your invoice at Sandrine [at], and the magic will happen ! Soon, you’ll receive a brand new, shiny ebook filled with tricks and advice on how to perform these fundamental processes of Compensation and Benefits J

Frequently Asked Questions on the Cost of Living reports

The reports are raising a lot of interest, and I would like to share some of the answers here.

Sandrine, why are you recommending these reports ? Is it because you get a commission ?

Well, yes I will receive a commission if you let me know that you purchased the report. But you’ve seen the low price of these reports. My plan is clearly not to get rich in 2 months and retire in the Seychelles after this announcement 😉 !

I do recommend the reports, because they are a complete and credible source of information on most of the common questions that we as HR receive about life in the GCC region.

Can you give me examples of companies that buy the reports ?

They tend to be very loyal customers. Here are some of the names you may be familiar with :

Dubai DED, Australian Trade Commission, DHL Express, Emirates Group, ADCB, Zurich International Life, Novartis, Travelport, Starwood Hotels, Mediclinc, Cegelec, Ericsson AB, INSEAD, Al Futtaim, Adidas, Givaudan Suisse, Paris Gallery, Mubadala, American Univeristy of Sharjah, and many, many more.

If you are interested, you will find some testimonials here :

Which companies participate in the surveys ?

The data is largely collected from the client base of Cost of Living Reports, which is mainly large companies with 500+ staff. Overall, 1,500 professionals from a variety of industries participate in the survey. The respondents are mostly middle-senior management.

With a limit of 5 respondents per company, it means the results constitute at least 300 different organisations.

Is it robust data ?

In the words of Nick Nice, COO of Cost of Living :

“My response may be subjective here, I suppose.  However, as a local company, we have been in the market for 10 years providing COL reports for the UAE.  In 2003, it was initially the Cost of Living Dubai Report.  Over the years, as we’ve expanded, we’ve introduced more reports.  Our research is mostly Primary Research, and where we do quote, we only use sources such as the Economists Intelligence Unit, World Bank, IMF along with various ministries in the Gulf etc.  So we feel it’s as robust as we can make it.”

How about the salary section ?

You can request a sample from the Qatar report at the bottom of this page :

Nick and his team work hard to produce the information, and it is useful to a lot of companies.

Basically, a number of standard jobs are identified across major functions (about 100 jobs in total), and salary ranges are provided for these jobs, based on company size and number of years of experience.

The report does not include allowances information, a thorough job matching methodology or data points for average, median or specific percentiles of the market. From that point of view, it is less detailed and thorough than the survey reports you would receive from dedicated compensation surveys. Remember, this is a COL report, not a salary report.

However, I find that the information can be quite effective if you are looking to prepare a rough budget, for example if you are setting up or expanding in the country for the first time.

This section will also be convenient for small to mid-size organisations that may not have very detailed salary structures, and that plan to hire for new roles this year.

Large organisations would also benefit as this is a good, quick snapshot that can be helpful in a year when you don’t do a thorough review of the salary ranges or participate to the heavy but super detailed compensation surveys from the big and/or niche providers, and when a general market “feel” is enough to decide whether to slightly adjust the midpoints or not.

What is the difference between the GCC Report and the 3 Cost of Living country reports of UAE, KSA and Qatar ?

The GCC report is not a simple compilation of the data you can get in the other 3 reports. It covers all 6 GCC countries so this is your chance to get data from Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait as well.

The structure of the report is the same (salary benchmarking, accommodation, medical and healthcare, education, transport and travel, utilities and lifestyle, and business set-up costs as well as commercial property).

However there are some differences with the country reports :

  1. The GCC Report is entirely quantitative, i.e. there’s no commentary.
  2. The GCC Report uses country and (in some of the sections) also capital city averages throughout.  So for example you won’t see prices for Ras Al Khaimah, Dubai, Ajman etc in the GCC report.  But you will in the UAE Report.
  3. The GCC Report isn’t retrospective, meaning it doesn’t go back and compare prices to last year.  It compares the 6 GCC countries against each other.

What can I use the reports for ?

For Compensation & Benefits : the accommodation and education sections are worth the price just by themselves. The reports will provide the information that you need in order to review your housing and education allowances. The health, transport and utility sections will also be useful for that purpose. If you are a regional HR manager needing to secure approval from Corporate for any changes to your salary and allowance structures, the reports will help you secure a good understanding by your colleagues at HQ, and receive an approval.

For attracting candidates, during the onboarding or to facilitate geographical mobility : you can also use most of the content in your communication with candidates and new hires aswell as potential international assigneees, to give them a fair background on what life in the UAE entails in terms of costs – this will reduce their uncertainty and help secure their agreement or commitment to your company.

For promotions or salary review requests triggered by perceived changes in the market : the information will also be very useful when line managers (or employees themselves) come to you saying that you need to change the grade of their team members “because now our allowances are not enough any longer”… Giving them external data if you need to push back will help position your advice and recommendations as professional and grounded into reality.

For establishing operating costs : if you are a company looking to establish or expand in the UAE, the information will prove very useful in preparing your budget and cost analysis.

The team at Cost Of Living have also put a nice list of examples of the questions you will be able to solve thanks to the data provided in the reports. Check out the “How can the report help me ?” section on the page of each report.

Interested ?

Find more information about the Cost of Living reports here :


Saudi Arabia :

Qatar :

Regional GCC report :

And don’t forget :

When you buy the GCC report before February 1st, you will receive a free copy of the CEO Survey report which will be published in Q2.

And when you buy any of the reports before February 28, I will send you a free copy of my upcoming ebook on compensation surveys and salary reviews. Simply remember to send me a PDF of your invoice at Sandrine [at]

I wish you all a great salary review and budgeting period, with the support of the Cost of Living reports !

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