As Bernanke joked on Tuesday: "I can say whatever I want."
Not always, as his predecessor learned.
Greenspan drew criticism for giving high-paying investors a potential leg up on their competitors with closed-door remarks about interest rates shortly after he left office, and for comments in March 2007 on the probability of a U.S. recession that roiled financial markets even as Bernanke was reassuring investors about the outlook.
At the conference sponsored by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, attendees paid $2,000 each to listen to Bernanke and other speakers, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers.
Greenspan garnered a similar fee in the United Arab Emirates capital in 2008.
Bernanke, who is now a distinguished fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution think-tank, did not discuss monetary policy, and only brushed on prospects for the U.S. economy. Instead, he choose to elaborate on his experience as chairman, acknowledging the Fed could have done more to battle the financial crisis.
(Read more: Who did it better: Ben Bernanke or Mario Draghi?)
Questions from the audience were relatively soft, leading to a discussion about family and baseball. On Wednesday, Bernanke speaks at a Johannesburg forum hosted by the financial firm Discovery Limited, and on Friday he will discuss the U.S. energy boom at a conference hosted by Siemens and IHS in Houston.
Through a Brookings spokeswoman, Bernanke declined to comment on his speaking engagements.
Greenspan took to the speaking circuit one week after departing office in January 2006 with an appearance at a private dinner hosted by Lehman Brothers. That brought in a reported $250,000, while a private telechat with investors in Japan that same day brought in about $120,000.
Greenspan's take on that first day is equivalent to $433,000 today after adjusting for inflation.
For his planned memoir, Bernanke is being represented by Robert Barnett, the Washington-based attorney who also handled Greenspan, according to a source familiar with the situation. Bernanke plans to meet publishers soon to discuss the book.
While it is unclear how large of a cash advance Bernanke is seeking, Greenspan clinched $8 million.
Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who is also publishing a book, made $400,000 from three speeches to financial firms, according to the Financial Times.
After handing the reins to Greenspan in 1987, former chairman Paul Volcker also hit the speaking circuit after learning, he later recounted, that he could make a year's salary—about $80,000 for the Fed chief at the time—in a speech or two.