Do you want to work in Dubai? Are you looking for a job in Dubai? I tell you everything about it in this article 🙂
If you feel like having a professional experience abroad, Dubai is the ideal place. And that's something nearly 40,000 Americans have understood: they’ve flown to work in the economic and tourist capital of the Middle East! It must be said that nearly 88% of the people living in Dubai are expatriates! It's a multicultural city 🙂
Although the city is located in the middle of the desert, it is one of the most modern cities in the world - THE city of excess - and one of the safest. You'll have a great quality of life here whether you go solo or with your family.
But living and working in Dubai is not a decision to be taken lightly! It's a whole project that needs to be prepared months in advance. Not to mention that choosing to expatriate also means discovering another culture and living in a country with its own traditions and customs!
So, I will explain to you the basics of what you need to know about working in the emirates. I'll cover various topics such as how to enter the country, how to find a job, which sectors are hiring and at the same time, I'll give you a lot of information about life in Dubai.
1. HOW TO WORK IN DUBAI
To visit Dubai, you don't need a visa. But once you arrive at the airport, a stamp will be put on your passport - it will allow you to stay in the country for up to 30 days.
I have a full article on the Dubai visa if you are interested! If you are American however, know that you don't need a visa to come to Dubai as a tourist!
You won't be able to work in Dubai with just this tourist visa (it's illegal); you'll need a work visa, and it will be necessary to have it before you even leave for Dubai!
Note that with this work visa you will be able to sponsor a family member
APPLYING FOR A WORK VISA
First of all, you should know that before you can apply for a visa, you need to get a work contract in Dubai.
This done, you will need the following documents for your application: your identity papers and copies of your diplomas (legalised and translated). You will also need to pass a medical examination and open a bank account in Dubai.
Most importantly, you will need a sponsor (it can be a person, a company or an organisation).
Most often this sponsor will be your employer or the company that employs you.
Your sponsor will act as your tutor:
- They will take care of the visa application process on your behalf
- They will pay the fees to the "General Directorate of Residence and Foreign Affairs of the Emirate" (GDRFA).
The visa will be issued by the UAE Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). It will then be stamped in your passport.
Please note that your sponsor will vouch for you. This means that they will be responsible for your actions even in your day-to-day life (they will help you find accommodation, for example). Therefore, always be serious, whatever you do and wherever you are!
Be aware that some people will not be able to obtain this precious visa/work permit:
- Those ill with tuberculosis, HIV or hepatitis B
- Those over 50 years old
- Those that have travelled to Israel (unless they ask for a new passport, which will not have an Israeli customs stamp).
Also note that when you arrive in Dubai, you will be fingerprinted, DNA tested and have a retinal scan.
OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEDURES
Before you leave to work in Dubai, there are a few things you will need to do, such as:
- Notify your bank that you are leaving and that your withdrawals will be made from abroad (take advantage of this to try and find an agreement on bank services).
- Forward your mail to your new address...
2. WORKING CONDITIONS IN DUBAI
THE EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT
There are two types of employment contracts in Dubai:
- the unlimited contract, which is an open-ended contract,
- the short-term contract, a sort of renewable fixed-term contract.
You will have a trial period of 3 months, renewable only once.
For students and young graduates looking for work experience, first you’ll need to obtain a temporary work permit from the Ministry of Labour. As a matter of fact, it is not allowed to work in Dubai with just a tourist visa, and this also applies for people who are looking for an internship.
In Dubai, there is no 40 hours/week, count at least 48 hours/week without forgetting the numerous overtime hours! Working in Dubai is quite demanding!
Most companies make their employees work 6 days a week and you will only have half an hour for lunch.
As far as paid holidays are concerned, you will be entitled to about 30 days off per year.
Women are entitled to 12 weeks' maternity leave.
There are 10 public holidays in the year (Islamic festivals) and you will have lighter days during the month of Ramadan.
Note that Sunday is counted as the first day of the week. The weekend is Friday and Saturday.
WAGES IN DUBAI
Even if in general, salaries are more interesting than in the US, note that there is no minimum wage.
If you go to work in Dubai, there will be a basic salary to which many benefits will be added, such as accommodation, health care, school fees for your children, return tickets to your country at least once a year...
Let's say that your salary represents 60% of your income and the benefits represent the remaining 40%.
The average salary in Dubai is $5.850/month. So if you wonder if it’s worth it to go work in Dubai in order to earn more money than in the US, the answer is clearly YES.
As far as termination of employment is concerned:
- Dismissal: you can be dismissed more quickly than in the US.
- Resignation: you must give notice between 1 and 3 months before leaving your job. You will have one month to leave the country, unless you find another job in the meantime!
Please note that there is no unemployment benefit if you are dismissed.
Working life is absolutely nothing like what you’re used to in USA! 🙁 It is very stressful and makes for a frenetic lifestyle, which will however allow you to earn more money.
3. SECTORS THAT ARE RECRUITING
Despite the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the job market is still open in Dubai, especially for positions with high responsibilities. So if you have a high level of qualification or excellent experience, you can work in Dubai and enjoy a great job and the salary that goes with it
Here are the top hiring sectors to help you find a job in Dubai 🙂
With a focus on owning and using the latest technology, Dubai companies are always on the lookout for people with real IT and digital know-how. Engineers are therefore very welcome. You will be paid between $4,500 and €7,710 for this position.
Dubai's hospitals are at the cutting edge of technology. If you have the skills to operate their state-of-the-art equipment, apply now!
“Dubai HealthCare City” is the largest hospital in the emirate.
Salaries vary depending on the establishment (private, public, military). You should expect to earn at least 3,400 $ as a nurse and between 16,660 and 20,400 $/month as a specialist doctor.
With so many hotels in Dubai, you'll have no trouble finding a job in one of them!
Working in Dubai in the hotel industry is a great way to work in large hotels and palaces, which will give you a great work experience.
There are many job opportunities in the restaurant industry (cook, waiter/waitress, etc.), but you can also open your own establishment. Indeed, any gastronomy is always welcome in Dubai!
Education is of great importance to Emiratis. There are many English-speaking schools and huge complexes. You can apply for a job as an English teacher (with a teaching diploma of course!) and earn around $3.600-6.000 in a high school.
You can also work as an English assistant or provide home-based education to your students.
In Dubai, there are always new real estate projects, so if you are a construction professional, you are bound to find your dream job!
Of course, there are also plenty of low-skilled jobs (especially in construction), but these are mostly taken by Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian and Filipino immigrants. Why? Because they accept to work in Dubai for less than $230/month. 🙁
OTHER SECTORS TO WORK IN DUBAI
Law, management or even taxation are also fields in which you can apply. You can also go into the luxury sector (trade, tourism, …). Note also that the headquarters of many international companies are located in Dubai (insurance, banking, etc.).
Never forget that Dubai recruiters are looking for motivated and experienced people.
4. HOW TO FIND A JOB IN DUBAI?
You can look for a job from the USA or directly in Dubai.
FROM THE US
Most people working in Dubai have found their jobs from the US on job boards used by expatriates The most complete (available offers, recommended qualifications, life tips...) and the most famous is probably: https://www.expat.com
But you can also look on different platforms:
- Platforms specialised in jobs in Dubai, such as: https://www.jobsindubai.com/
- Platforms specialised in jobs in the Middle East, such as: https://www.bayt.com or https://www.monstergulf.com/ or https://www.careerjet.ae/
You can also check out the Dubai Job Board website at https://buzzon.khaleejtimes.com/
Beware, competition is tough and offers are rare, so to put all the chances on your side, set up an alert to be notified when an offer in Dubai becomes available!
Word of mouth is also one of the best ways to find a job in Dubai. If you know someone locally, ask them to put you in touch with expats in Dubai.
Social networks are of course a real asset to find a job in Dubai but also to find help and meet people...
LinkedIn (linkedin.com) is obviously the reference: post your profile there. Subscribe to specialised pages (expatriate groups such as: Dubai Expats, New Jobs in Dubai...).
Finally, the major americans organizations are also there to help you with your expatriation procedures and to provide you with a wealth of information on working and living in Dubai (work, housing, visa applications, etc.). Consult the website of :
- The US Embassy in the United Arab Emirates: https://ae.usembassy.gov/
ONCE IN DUBAI
Since you are entitled to apply for a tourist visa which will allow you to stay in Dubai for 90 days, you can take advantage of this period to carry out some job searches and in particular to register with recruitment agencies. You will of course need to find an accommodation for the duration of your stay in order to do this!Obviously, you can also take the opportunity to discover the city… However, I don't advise you to do so, because then you might not be there anymore when the time comes to go for an interview. However, if your profile is really suitable, the company will pay for your travel 😊
WHEN TO APPLY TO WORK IN DUBAI?
You can apply between the beginning of the school year in September and until the end of November. But the best time is the first quarter of the year, for that is when you are most likely to get a response.
Avoid the holy month of Ramadan, during which workdays are short; as well as the summer holidays (July-August).
When you apply, make sure you submit a great CV and cover letter (in English). If your profile is selected, you may need to do a first interview via Skype. So check your mails regularly!
English in Dubai is essential in all fields: being an English speaker will be an advantage for you, however if you speak Arabic it will be a real asset 🙂
5. THE COST OF LIVING IN DUBAI
Unfortunately, the cost of living in Dubai is quite high, but with your salary you will be able to enjoy a nice lifestyle.
There is something for every budget, but be aware that rents in Dubai are higher than in the US. However, you can negotiate with your employer to pay part of the cost. Also take into consideration that the residences are well equipped (gym, swimming pool...) and that the rent includes the local tax (5% of the rent).
Your housing budget will also depend on the neighbourhood - the further you move away from the city centre, the lower the rent - and the type of accommodation (comfort and facilities offered).
You should expect to pay around $2,260 in Downtown Dubai and $1,130 in the older parts of the city.
You also should know that:
- You will have to pay a whole year of rent in advance! Some landlords accept payment in 2 or 3 instalments.
- The rent does not include utilities! You will have to pay your water and electricity bills to DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority). You can expect to pay between $115 and $1135 per month depending on your energy needs. Yes, air-conditioning can quickly add up!
- Roommates are not allowed (officially). Only married couples can live together.
To find accommodation, use a real estate agency or look in the small ads.
GETTING AROUND DUBAI
Dubai has only two metro lines and a poorly developed bus and tramway network. To use public transport, you will need to buy a Silver or Gold NOL card depending on what you want (more comfort, more space) or a Blue one (if you become a resident of Dubai), which you will be able to refill as you travel.
Please note that there are "regular class" carriages (basic) and "gold class" which offer more seats.
There are also women-only carriages.
Although these transports are modern and of good quality (air-conditioned, spacious, …), I advise you to either rent or buy a car, if only to have more autonomy.
Cars are the most used means of transport and are much more practical to get around Dubai. And buying a car is cheaper than in the US, as is the cost of fuel (about $0.55/litre).
To drive in Dubai, you will need to apply for an international driving licence. Go to the RTA licensing office with your identity papers, your UK/US driving licence, a letter from your sponsor, an eyesight test and your application form (it costs about $110 for the change). This permit will be valid for 2 years.
Remember to buy an electronic sticker that will allow you to pass the tolls (called "Salik" points). You won't really see them, but they will be automatically deducted from your card.
Be careful, driving in Dubai is more complicated and there are more accidents. Be alert and focused at all times, especially during rush hour
Alternatively, you can opt for a taxi They offer good value for money: a kilometre is charged at $0.50. An Uber, will only cost $4,5 to $5,65 for a downtown trip.
In Dubai, you can find food from all over the world (so you will be able to buy your usual British or American products, no worries there!). You’ll see that there is no lack of choice!
There are restaurants of all kinds, of all nationalities and for all budgets!
However, if you fancy pork, you will have to go to ‘pork rooms’, areas in which Muslims are not allowed. The same applies to alcohol: you will only be able to buy some if you have a licence, and you can only consume it in establishments that also have a licence.
Most supermarkets (there are several chains) are open 24/7. Home delivery is possible.
Your children's education in Dubai will be one of your biggest expenses.English-speaking schools are ideal for your children to adapt easily to life in Dubai, but are rather expensive (up to $15,000/year). However, this expense can be covered by the company that hired you. So once again, do not hesitate to negotiate your employment contract! Be aware, however, that the schools have waiting lists that can be long.
There are 58 British schools in Dubai and they include education from kindergarten to highschool of which:
- Jumeirah English Speaking School,
- GEMS Wellington International School,
- Dubai College,
- American School of Dubai
For more information, click here
Classes start at 7.45am and finish at 3pm. There is no canteen, you will have to prepare your children's meals.
In addition, there are extracurricular activities in the afternoon (for a fee). You may therefore need to arrange for a nanny/maid to look after your children if you do not wish to pay for these activities. In this case, you have two options:
- A live-in home-help will cost between 560$ and 850$.
- A live-out home-help will cost between 6.8 to 10 $/hour.
Daycare centres are also not cheap: between 7,707 and 11,561 € depending on whether you choose half-day or full-day care.
The cost of healthcare in Dubai is enormous. To benefit from the health care system there (run by the Dubai Health Authority), you must apply for a health card (with a 85$ fee) upon arrival. To obtain it, you will need to provide copies of:
- your passport
- your employment contract
- your UAE identity card (once you’ve become a resident).
You will also need to take out health insurance with the same company. It will cover emergency expenses, consultations with your GP and any medication prescribed by them.
Usually these expenses are covered by your employer. However, I strongly advise you to take out special international health insurance for expatriates. You will then be much better protected in case of hospitalisation or emergency repatriation.
To stay connected with your family and friends, you will need to choose a telephone subscription and opt for an internet connection (although wifi is available almost everywhere for free).
There are three operators in Dubai: Etisalat, Du and more recently Virgin Mobile. They all offer subscriptions according to your needs and budget (but expect much higher fees than in the UK).
To give you an idea, here are the prices of their different flat fees:
INTERNET + TV + TEL
From $100/month for the "Unlimited Starter" package to $735/month for the "Unlimited Premium" package
From $22/month for the "Ultimate Flexibility" package up to $130/month for the "Incredible Savings" package
You'll quickly realise that there are no mailboxes in Dubai. You will have to either ask to receive your mail at your workplace or rent a post office box. The minimum cost is AED 300/year ($82) and the maximum AED 995/year ($270)
6. ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF WORKING IN DUBAI
If you have a minimum salary of $2,800 per month, you will live in Dubai comfortably 🙂
Unfortunately, there are not only advantages to working in Dubai! Don't just look at the upside.
Life in Dubai is totally different from life in the US, though the mentality in the emirate is much more open than in other UAE countries. However, some codes of conduct may seem restrictive. Be careful to:
- Respect the culture of the country, as Islam is an integral part of the inhabitants' day (there is a call to prayer 5 times a day).
- Follow the Dubai lifestyle: adapt your clothing (no deep necklines, no monokinis on the beach, etc.) and be careful not to make affectionate gestures in public (it can lead to fines).
- Abortion and emergency contraception are prohibited. Contraceptive methods are regulated, as only married women can benefit from them (although the use of condoms is tolerated). Although a progressive city, getting pregnant out of wedlock can lead to expulsion or even prison. So can homosexuality.
- There is zero tolerance for alcohol, except in licensed establishments.
- The weather is really hot, up to 50°C in summer. And the humidity can quickly rise and create a stifling atmosphere. Sometimes sandstorms sweep through the city.
- There is no income tax. You will be paid in dirhams, the currency of Dubai..
- Dubai is one of the safest cities in the world. There are surveillance cameras everywhere.
- The emirate is a real melting pot: you will meet people from all over the world.
- Life is fast-paced, day and night, and there's never a dull moment (even on weekends!).
- You can go on extraordinary trips to the city, the Persian Gulf and the desert just outside the city.
Some of the must-do activities include: flying over Dubai in a helicopter, flying over the desert in a hot air balloon, crossing the Marina in a Tyrolean traverse, or even surprising activities such as skiing in a shopping mall, sliding down high-speed chutes in a waterpark, swimming with sharks...
- You can live or at least taste a life of luxury: shopping in department stores, meeting the world's jet set...
- The weather is sunny all year round. It rarely rains.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR WORKING IN DUBAI
Before making your big departure, do not hesitate to make a small trip just to get an idea of the country. It's a whole other culture with different traditions, customs and lifestyle…
To find a job in Dubai, you need to be a serious person, have rare skills or exceptional know-how.
Negotiate your employment contract so that you get many benefits: health insurance, loan of accommodation, company car, payment of school fees...
If you have a pet and want to bring it with you to Dubai, you will need to :
- Pay an entry fee (some breeds of dogs are prohibited, especially those considered dangerous such as Pit bulls)
- Get your pet microchipped
- Update its vaccinations
- Register it every year with the municipality
- Keep it on a leash at all times (animals aren’t allowed on the beach).