Strategy consultants set for salary hike in Saudi Arabia and the UAE

20 December 2019 3 min. read

Strategy consultants in the Middle East are set for a healthy pay hike next year according to a newly released salary guide from Cooper Fitch.

Executive search and recruitment firm Cooper Fitch has released its latest annual salary guides for the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with strategy consultants set to be the big winners next year – predicted to receive the largest of pay hikes among the industries analysed. Market-rate salaries in the UAE’s accounting and finance arena are on the hand expected to dip, with a 3 percent decline predicted, although a 4 percent rise is forecast for Saudi Arabia.

To compile its guide – which doesn’t take into account bonuses and other forms of remuneration such as pension schemes and long-term incentives – Cooper Fitch assesses several sources of data, including successful assignments competed over the past year and its continuous interaction with hiring managers and mid to senior-level executives across the region. The firm also considers the economic landscape in examining salary trends.

Accordingly, as the UAE regains its growth momentum, Cooper Fitch expects a moderate improvement in the employment market in the coming year, with an average 1 percent salary increase for new hires across all sectors. Meanwhile, an average rise of 3 percent across sectors is predicted in Saudi Arabia, courtesy of the Kingdom’s ongoing transformation and continued expansion and growth of numerous industries.

UAE strategy consultant salary guide

Such transformations require strategists, who in all the professions assessed – including among others the banking, human resources, legal, sales & marketing and technology sectors – should cash in the most. According to the guide, a senior management consultant can expect to earn a minimum of ~US$65,500 per annum, while a five-year-plus partner at a management firm will be bringing in an excess of $400,000 p/a, minimum. A director: ~$180,000 to $230,000.

“The UAE’s strategy and consulting sector is more competitive than ever, driven by growth in industries such as healthcare, energy and technology, media and telecoms (TMT), together with a pick-up in regional IPOs and corporate transformation programmes as firms position themselves for future growth. Market rate salary ranges in 2019 increased by a healthy 5 percent and we expect to see the same growth in salary ranges for 2020,” the report states.

And the rates for strategy work are higher again in Saudi Arabia. A five-year partner at a management consultancy is given as earning somewhere closer to $480,000 at a minimum (no maximum figures are listed for this specific category), while an even greater discrepancy is found in the private sector – around $320,000 minimum for a Chief Strategy Officer at a private company in the Kingdom compared to a minimum rate of ~$260,000 in the UAE.

“Strategy and consulting roles in Saudi Arabia recorded significant salary increases in 2019, driven by growth in markets such as defence, telecommunications, healthcare, telecoms and tourism and culture,” the report states, predicting a 7 percent wage rise for industry consultants. “Implementation of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic roadmap is prompting fresh demand for strategy professionals both in industry and consulting and this is set to continue in 2020.”

Elsewhere, Cooper Fitch notes that bilingual Arabic-English consultants with public sector experience are in exceptionally high demand in the UAE (leading to inflated salaries), with the top source markets for UAE strategy staff including Lebanon, Jordan alongside Turkey and Europe. Across in Saudi Arabia, consultants with strategy knowledge and experience working on short-term projects, such as growth or market entry strategies, will be in particularly high demand.