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My Dubai Salary: ‘I earn Dh25,000 a month in real estate operations’

Cost of Living Considerations
  • While Dh25,000 per month represents a substantial income, individuals must consider the cost of living in Dubai, including housing, transportation, and leisure expenses. Budgeting and financial planning are essential for maintaining a comfortable lifestyle and achieving financial goals.

Women weren’t generally encouraged to work in Nikita Kothari’s family. However, her mother motivated her to be financially independent from a young age.

“People in my state are not very broad-minded. They want their girls to get a good education, but don’t allow them to work,” says Ms Kothari, who is from Jaipur, in the state of Rajasthan in the west of India.

“But my mum pushed me to take tuitions for young children as she wanted me to be independent. I always had a zeal to work and took up employment while pursuing my college education.”

Ms Kothari, 34, works as an operations director for a real estate company in Dubai. Her husband launched the company, Skyline International Real Estate, during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

She has a master’s degree in environmental research.

Ms Kothari, who has been in the UAE for eight years, lives in Dubai Creek Harbour with her family, which includes her husband and a baby son.

Her family owns food and jewellery businesses in Rajasthan, while her sister runs a bridal trousseau company.

What was your first job and salary?

I started working in India even before I graduated. While I was in college, I started working with Kingfisher Airlines. My first salary was 15,000 Indian rupees ($179.80) in 2008-09. I was working with the ground staff and was in charge of conducting training and grooming.

After that, I worked with Porsche for four years in Delhi. I moved to the UAE after my wedding. I came here on a visit visa and it took me three months to find a job. Although I was new to the country, I was determined to find a job with good pay.

My first job in the UAE was as a buying assistant with an e-commerce company. I was part of the pre-opening team and started with a monthly salary of Dh8,000 ($2,178) and this increased to Dh18,000 by the time I left the company after four years as an assistant buyer.

Coming from a science background, it was a challenge to get into e-commerce. But learning doesn’t stop. I learnt a lot and the job gave me a lot of exposure.

What is your salary now?

Although I work in my husband’s business, I am still an employee.

I draw a salary of Dh25,000 per month. I’m the operations director – I design training programmes, take care of recruitment and also manage accounting and finance.

Do you save and invest?

Yes, I do. Coming from a Marwari business family, we have a natural tendency to save.

We have been taught to save a significant amount of our earnings and spend only whatever is extra.

I invest in gold and systematic investment plans. I also buy land and property. I try to invest all the money I save.

Where are your properties?

I purchased a property in Jaipur, which I have listed on Airbnb. I have also invested in a one-bedroom apartment in Downtown Dubai for Dh2 million, which I purchased with my own money in 2018.

I’m also planning to buy a studio apartment in Jumeirah Village Circle.

The property I currently live in in Dubai is a joint investment with my husband.

Do you have any debt?

I don’t use credit cards or have any loans now. There are many offers on credit cards here to attract shoppers. I was caught in this trap earlier, overspent and exceeded my budget. You end up buying impulsively, that became my habit at one time.

I prefer to spend with only debit cards and cash now.

I paid off the mortgage on my property in Dubai. I managed to do this because I try to cut costs wherever possible and save as much money as I can.

I prefer to go for a loan with a short tenure because if it’s a long-term loan, you tend to be relaxed.

I will take a mortgage to buy my second property in the UAE.

Growing up, were you taught how to handle your finances?

Yes, by my mum. Home makers are really good planners. She used to save a lot of money and tell us how to invest and what to buy.

She always asked us to invest in gold and taught us how to budget for household expenses.

How do you budget your salary every month?

I always strictly save 50 per cent of my monthly salary. From the remaining amount, I allocate 15 per cent for my expenses.

With the remaining money, I buy gold either on a monthly basis or every 15 days.

I don’t buy gold bars in the UAE because I cannot take it to India. I buy small jewellery.

Besides gold, I also invest in SIPs and post office saving accounts in India.

What are your major monthly expenses?

My major monthly expense are on groceries and my child’s stuff.

I do not go beyond my budget and plan it well every month.

I have a combined account with my husband for travel. We are travel freaks and take a holiday every two months. I don’t get into his investments or savings.

How to ask for a salary rise in 2024 | Pocketful of Dirhams

What is the one thing you dread most about your job? For many, that could be asking for a salary rise – even if you deserve it. Experts say there is a right and a wrong way to ask your boss for a wage increase and you should start by being prepared before sitting down with your manager for the “salary talk”.

Do you have an emergency fund?

Yes, it can sustain me for a year. I’ve had it for the past five years.

Although I have a passion to work and create money from money, I always have contingency money and a backup plan.

Have you started saving for retirement?

I wish to retire at the age of 40. I want to explore the world and give time to my family.

My properties and gold are to sustain me during retirement. If there is an emergency in the future, I can take out a gold loan or sell it.

What do you spend your disposable income on?

I buy luxury stuff since I also work as a fashion stylist. I love buying branded handbags.

I don’t buy it very frequently. I only buy them when I’m travelling to Europe or London and find good offers there.

Do you worry about money?

I don’t worry about money, but I worry about circumstances. Coming from a business family, we have seen rough times.

That’s why I want to secure my future for myself, my child and family. I don’t want to rely on anybody.

Nikita Kothari has an emergency fund with one year’s worth of living expenses. Chris Whiteoak / The National

What are your best money saving hacks to offset inflation?

I always check out deals when buying either groceries or things for myself, my baby, husband or helpers in Dubai.

Do you earn passive income?

Yes, through rental income from my property investments.

What are your financial goals?

I want to buy multiple properties and earn rental income in the next five years.

My long-term goal is to buy a farmhouse in India. I’m already in touch with property agents and am looking for a good plot. I want to live there in future.

Do you want to be featured in My Salary, a weekly column that explores how people around the world manage their earnings? Write to to share your story


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