How to Find a Job in Dubai

Been in a rut? Longing for adventure? How about working in an ultra-modern city with beautiful beaches, incredible amenities, and a friendly, thriving, international community? If that sounds appealing, read on to learn how to find a job in Dubai.

See also: The Top 10 Highest Paid Jobs in Dubai

Why Dubai?

Dubai, located on the southeast coast of the Persian Gulf, is one of seven emirates in the United Arab Emirates. Founded on the oil industry, Dubai is now known for tourism, real estate, aviation, and financial services. So…why would you want to work there?

  • Dubai is truly global, with “expats” making up well over half of the population.
  • Salaries are comparable with other westernized nations, but, as there’s no income tax, most employees realize a higher net salary than they would in their home countries. (You do have to pay 15% of one year’s salary when you leave, so you’ll need to plan for that.)
  • Dubai is one of the world’s most modern cities. It offers numerous recreational opportunities – including world-class sporting facilities – and currently boasts the world’s tallest building.
  • English is widely used in business.
  • Dubai is more relaxed than some other Muslim nations. Women are seen as equal to men, and, while modesty is expected of everyone, there are no absolute restrictions on things like driving and dress.

How do you go about finding a job in Dubai?

Not too long ago, it was difficult to find anything other than executive-level positions without visiting Dubai in person. That’s changing, however, as a 2013 survey that reviewed almost four million job applications showed:

  • 24% found work through corporations’ own websites.
  • Another 22% found work through online databases of job-seekers.
  • 13% found work through other online resources, like trade associations and social media.
  • 14% found work through referrals and professional networking.
  • 4% found work through job boards.

The employment atmosphere in Dubai is obviously going through some epic changes. While candidates used to line up on employers’ doorsteps to apply in person, over half of candidates who found work in 2013 did it online. The website Dubai Employment Tips features a list of job posting sites.

What about recruiting firms?

As the 2013 survey showed, employers are relying heavily on their own websites, primarily to keep costs down. However, there are a number of recruiting firms available to help expats find work. Dubai Employment Tips provides this list of recruiters.

What else do I need to know?

  • There are no laws in Dubai that prohibit discrimination in employment. Employers will expect your CV to include a photo as well as information like your age and nationality. It’s also not uncommon for certain “vital statistics” – like gender and age range – to be specified in a job ad.
  • While Dubai is one of the most westernized nations in the Middle East, modesty is still paramount. Women, especially, should strive to be professional but understated in appearance for interviews – no skirts that reveal your thighs when you sit, moderate makeup, etc.
  • Dubai is a Muslim nation. The work week runs Sunday through Thursday, and Friday is the day of worship.
  • Muslims pray five times a day. Don’t be surprised to see work stop as everyone answers the calls to prayer.
  • While Dubai is very tolerant of non-Muslims, it’s still important to be respectful of the fact that it is indeed a Muslim nation. For instance, Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. While you’re not required to fast if you’re not Muslim, it would be wise and respectful to eat and drink only in private. You don’t want to offend your co-workers who are fasting.
  • Arabic is the legal language. Employment contracts in any other language aren’t binding, so it’s important to be sure you understand what the Arabic version of your contract says.

What documentation do I need?

  • You need a valid employment visa to work in Dubai. However, you can’t apply for one yourself. Dubai operates on a sponsorship system; when you accept a job, your employer will act as your sponsor and obtain an employment visa for you.
  • You can act as secondary sponsor so that your family can join you in Dubai. You may sponsor your lawfully wedded (opposite sex only) spouse, any children under the age of 21, and unmarried daughters of any age.
  • It’s not customary for women to sponsor their husbands, and it requires special permission from the Department of Labour and the Department of Immigration and Nationalisation.
  • Visas are valid for three years but may be renewed.

If you want to work in Dubai, your first task is to find a job. After that, your employer will help you work out the logistics.

Working in Dubai can be the adventure of a lifetime. Is that adventure calling you?


photo credit: free images