The UAE is well known as a tax free destination. You may know one or some of its constituent emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. People from around the world come here for short and longer periods to enhance their lifestyle via the income they can achieve here.
Emiratis only make up about 20% of the population so there is a strong drive to secure roles for them in the private sector (as most work for government), so be prepared for this. This government lead drive is known as Emiratization.
You will face a lot of competition from highly skilled and certified workers from India, Pakistan and the Philippines who cost a lot less to employ than you as a westerner. Like it or not, in the UAE your nationality is a factor in determining your pay and westerners (British, American, Australian, Canadian, South African, etc.) come out on top, as in most expensive. For some roles, this is an advantage when they specifically ask for western experience.
See also: Top 10 Employers in the UAE
1. Use Online Resources
- Bayt – The largest online job portal in the UAE.
- JobServe – The leading UK-based job search engine. Has a decent amount of jobs listed in the Middle East, UAE included.
- Careerjet – Job search engine that aggregates results from several sites – really useful.
- GulfTalent – Good amount of jobs listed on this UAE-based site.
3. Update Your Résumé
In the UAE, they are used to receiving résumés in a variety of formats, as people come from everywhere. You should be prepared to include your nationality on it, as this is required for visa purposes – they want to know how easy or difficult it will be to obtain a visa for you. If you have LinkedIn, ensure that your information there matches your résumé.
Throughout the application process, you should also be prepared to share your marital status and religion. Don’t be alarmed as this is also required for the visa process. If you are from a western country and are not religious, you still have to choose a religion. Simply answer "Christianity" – nobody will verify this in any way.
4. Get Clued Up About Education Requirements
A lot of jobs state that you require a bachelor’s degree as a minimum. Some people will even tell you that you need to have one to get a visa – this simply isn’t true. Whilst it is good if you have one, with the right amount of experience you can forgo this requirement.
At minimum, you should have some sort of post-secondary education such as A-levels in the UK or an associate’s degree in the US, for example.
5. Be Aware of the Visa Situation
Your work permit and residency visa are directly tied to your employer. They will always apply for this on your behalf. If and when your job ends, you have 30 days to find another job, otherwise you need to leave the country. If you are married, you can sponsor your spouse and dependents for residency visas.
Initially, you receive a 30-day visit visa on entry. People from most countries receive a 10-day grace period after the 30 days are up.
6. Follow This Approach
In the UAE, it is very possible to secure a role before landing, using the above resources. In your covering letter or at the interview stage, it really helps if you show an active interest of wanting to be based in the UAE – your potential employer will want to be sure that you are ready for the move and will stay for a while. You could mention the fact that you’ve visited before or are generally interested in being based here, and perhaps mention a few facts or interests.
Networking and who you know is important, so it does help to arrive beforehand and search whilst on the ground. You can also see if your company has a regional office here – the possibility of a transfer could exist.
This one is a top tip: If you are on the ground already, carry business cards, get a local SIM, and include the number on it. Business cards are a big deal here, and you will definitely be taken more seriously if you present one at meetings and interviews. If someone hands you a card, grab it with both hands and study it for a few seconds before saying thanks and presenting yours.
- By law, you must be married to live together. Plenty of couples aren’t and live just fine cohabiting. Just don’t draw any attention to yourselves.
- Alcohol can only be drunk in licensed establishments such as hotels and some restaurants. For home consumption, you will require an alcohol license.
- It regularly gets up to 45+ degrees Celsius in the summer months; don’t underestimate this. Many people are unprepared despite this knowledge and end up returning home.
- Be prepared for a lot of red tape. When you come over, have at least 20 passport pictures ready for everything from your visa application to signing up for electricity. Also have just as many passport copies and visa copies ready once you have it stamped into your passport.
- It costs a fair amount to set up here and you will pay for things like hooking up utilities, rent deposit, and furniture as apartments are usually unfurnished.
- Last but not least, a fun little cultural tidbit. When in a full lift, especially if you share it with Emiratis, the person to the right of you always exits first, so if there is someone to the right, simply signal them to leave first with your right hand slightly stretched out.
Have you moved to the UAE for work? Share your experiences and advice with us in the comments section below!