Seeking Employment in the UAE (Dubai or Abu Dhabi)?
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about working in the UAE.
In this fact sheet we have concentrated on the booming Emirate of Dubai.
However it is widely predicted that the massive growth occurring in Dubai is soon to be replicated in Abu Dhabi.
1. Why is everyone talking about Dubai - what is it really like?
Dubai offers one of the most favorable personal and commercial environments in the industrialized world. With excellent communications, booming economy, western lifestyle, fully convertible currency, stable exchange rate and minimal tax regime this emirate has rapidly become an attractive proposition for professionals, families and organisations alike. Dubai is one of the most relaxed places to live in the Gulf region as it has a more secure and tolerant regime than any other location in the area.
Women are treated equally and have an equal status to men with none of the restrictions on dress and conduct that would apply in say Saudi Arabia. The author of this fact sheet spent 12 months working in Dubai & Abu Dhabi and found the whole experience extremely enjoyable. The climate for 9 months of the year is fantastic - very hot in summer though!
Dubai has a great deal to offer in terms of leisure activities including world class sporting facilities for golf, tennis, squash, sailing, rugby and many others. Restaurants, hotels and night spots are plentiful, diverse and always spectacularly opulent. The quality of the leisure facilities are among the best in the world and hence have encouraged considerable tourism to the region.
They call Dubai the Hong Kong of the Middle East - a fair comparison.
2. What sort of visa do I need?
To work in Dubai you will need a residence visa, labour card and health card. This will allow a working stay of up to 3 years and if you are a qualified professional with a degree or have an established employment history, there should be few difficulties in obtaining the necessary paperwork to become a resident. Most companies provide all the relevant immigration and visa advice and obtain the necessary visa for the new employee - so really nothing to worry about here.
3. What are the salary packages like?
Most of the people we speak to think the salary levels in Dubai will be way above their home levels - they're not. The huge difference between Gulf salaries and the salaries of the western economies no longer exist. However the salaries can be on average 10% more than other countries plus there is the advantage of not paying any tax!! If you live in countries such as the UK or Australia this can add 25-35% to your take home amount - and this is where the benefit lies.
On average the salary packages for a professional with 5 years plus experience are between 25,000 and 40,000 dirhams per month - obviously depending on age, experience, specific expertise etc etc etc . The packaging of accommodation, flights, car allowances etc varies between companies.
What should be remembered is that a mandatory 15% lump sum of the persons yearly salary is paid on departure if the person has worked for more that 2 years in the emirate.
In conclusion we would advise that the pay is world class and the packages invariably include flights (including family), accommodation, relocation expenses and all statutory fees and charges. However the main reason for choosing a new job in Dubai should be the adventure of a new lifestyle as well as the chance to work on projects of a scale and diversity that is not seen anywhere else on the globe - it is mind boggling.
4. Is it possible to obtain a job remotely?
Yes it is for specific high level executive positions. However for the contingent referral method we advise making a special trip to the emirate of your choice to attend interviews that we can set up. Obviously employers are more interested when we say - 'we recommend Brian and by the way he will be in Dubai in 2 weeks time'. It also shows a true commitment to securing a position in the Middle East. Employers can be a bit paranoid about what they call... 'runners'!
5. What other literature can I read on the area?
We would recommend a book called Dubai Explorer publised by Alistair MacKenzie and writen by David Quinn. See: www.explorer-publishing.com You can't go wrong with this book for all information you will need on the area.
6. Authors Note
I spent two stints working in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and I can thorougly recommend it. As a Quantity Surveyor I was always looking for the next challenge and offshore was always a sure place to find it. There is nothing like the buzz of working and playing in a foreign land - especially when the culture is so diverse from your motherland. The Middle East had it all for me. Large projects, good pay, great climate (most of the year), superb night life and a multi cultural business and social environment.
If your career needs an excitement injection then head to the UAE.