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Finding work in the UAE

Despite declining oil prices and revenue, recruitment specialists in UAE insist that the job market is still strong and the steady flow of expats to the Emirates suggests the same.

Recruitment trends

The never-ending construction and engineering projects are major drivers of recruitment. Various UAE news sites and recruitment consultants predict that job opportunities in2017 will be driven by the 2020 Expo in Dubai. The Expo will be an interactive event which, according to event organisers, "will draw 25 million visitors to see spectacular architecture, merge with global cultures, examine thoughtful and thought-provoking exhibitions, and taste food from every corner of the globe." The Expo will involve building infrastructure projects and properties around Dubai.

The Hyperloop

Another large-scale transportation project which will generate jobs will be the Dubai to Abu Dhabi ‘Hyperloop’. By 2025, this multi-billion dollar transport link will see this commute reduced from two hours to 12 minutes. Commuters reach speeds of up to 1,200 kph in a giant tube which runs on magnetic levitation.

How to find work

Do not leave it until you arrive in the UAE to find work. Although it is possible to enter on a 30-day visa and then apply for work, you will miss out on relocation packages offered by employers.

Popular online job search engines include:

Here is the official UAE Government guide on how to find work.

The recruitment process

There is a fair amount of bureaucracy involved in obtaining the relevant paperwork to allow you to work in the Emirates. Usually, the steps involved are as follows:

Your visa, work permit and labour card

  • Your prospective employer will usually sponsor you for the necessary residence visa and work permit.
  • Residence visas and work permits are requested by your employer and are issued by the relevant authority after you accept your job.
  • Residence visas are issued only for two years. Employers should cover the costs of renewing your residence permit. Permanent residence is not offered to many people.
  • To apply for a residency visa you must take a blood test. Your application will be refused if you are HIV positive, or have hepatitis, tuberculosis or leprosy.
  • The approval of your work permit happens before you enter the UAE. You apply for your labour card from the Ministry of Labour after you arrive.
  • If you are Israeli, have Israeli dual-citizenship or just have Israeli stamps in your passport, you may be refused entry to the UAE. Contact your embassy to check.
  • Application rules and procedures change regularly, so do check with your embassy.
  • Make sure you do not pay a fee if using a recruitment consultancy.
  • For further details see this excellent guide on how to apply for a work permit (once you are living in Dubai).

What skills are needed?

A 2015 survey of online job-listing sites by found that companies were seeking experience and qualifications in sales, business development, health care, HR and administration, and accountancy.

Top growth industries (year-on-year growth in hiring)

  1. Health care (60%)
  2. Retail/Trade and Logistics (55%)
  3. IT and Telecom/ISP (49%)

Lowest Growth Industries:

  1. Production/Manufacturing, Automotive and Ancillary (1%)
  2. Hospitality ( -5%)
  3. Oil and Gas ( -24%)


Salaries vary depending on the sector but typically out-compete those back home, with the added advantage of being tax-free.

Sample salaries in 2016

  • English Teachers $25,000 – $70,000 (£20,000 – £56,000) pa plus relocation package
  • Legal, or IT Recruitment Consultant $74,700 – $100,000 (£60,000 - £80,000) pa plus relocation assistance
  • Credit Controller $52,250 – $65,500 (£41,950 – £52,600)

Tips for job interviews

  • You may be invited to interview by Skype, or with a representative in your home country.
  • Members of the opposite sex will most likely be unable to shake your hand, so wait until offered before shaking hands.
  • Always accept a drink, if offered; it is impolite to refuse.
  • Sit up straight; do not slump in your chair.
  • Avoid asking about the salary, holiday and contract details until you are offered the job.
  • Make sure you are fully prepared for all potential hiccups in your recruitment and relocation process. Call our team of expert advisers for a chat about what cover you might need.

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