Work in Middle East – What You Need to Know

Work in Middle East

Considered making a fresh start in another mega metropolis?

How about working in Dubai?

Dubai is one of the fastest growing, most cosmopolitan and dynamic cities in the world. If you’re looking for the next destination to take your international career, look no further as you’ve come to the right place.

Dubai — the basics

The Dubai Emirate is one of the 7 regions which form the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — a constitutional federation of states located on the Arabian peninsula, bordered by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman. Situated between the coastline of the Arabian Gulf and the northern part of the Arabian Desert, the Dubai Emirate’s capital, Dubai City, is now considered one of the fastest-growing and most exciting cities on the planet.

A haven for lovers of heat and sun, Dubai’s average August temperature surpasses 40 degrees Celsius — perfect weather for enjoying its long coastline of white, sandy beaches! Mirroring its blistering weather, Dubai’s economy is also one of the world’s hottest hubs for the construction, engineering, finance, IT and media industries. To meet the subsequent growth of the Dubai workforce other industries — such as hospitality particularly experienced chefs and executive chef jobs in Dubai are hot as well.

Dubai’s expatriate community

Since the UAE Government first began establishing economic ‘free zones’ (tax-free areas) in the mid-1980s, Dubai has quickly become a business Mecca for Western professionals. It is one of the most rapidly developing urban centres in the world, and one of the only cities where expats far outnumber the locals. In fact, for every Emerati (citizen of the United Arab Emirates) living in Dubai, there are approximately 5 expats!

Most expats living in Dubai come from Southern Asian countries — such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines — but foreign workers from the UK, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and the USA are becoming more and more abundant, influencing the dynamic of the multicultural expat community.

Economy — and tax-free incomes!

You don’t have to look far into to horizon to see wealth and abundance. Soaring skyscrapers and shimmering hotels dominate the skyline, while luxury resorts and opulent shopping malls sprawl across the streets down below.

The UAE operates a free market economy and is staunchly committed to the principles of free trade. To encourage commercial investment and the development of industry, the UAE Government has, since the mid-1980s, began a process of establishing economic ‘free zones’ across the country. These zones offer appealing financial incentives to foreign companies — such as collecting no corporate or personal income tax for at least 15 years, and allowing them to remain 100 percent foreign-owned. Employees, of course, also get taken along for the income tax-free income.

With its growing number of economic free zones the city became a lucrative option for foreign companies and investors prior to the financial crisis. In some of the city’s free zones — such as the International Financial Centre — companies operate tax-free. Employees’ salaries are not subject to tax either.

The currency of Dubai is the dirham (AED or Dh), with 100 fils totalling 1 Dh. The cost of living is not unlike that of most large cities but, with no personal income tax obligations, foreign workers generally fare much better here than in London or New York.

Society and culture

Apart from exciting career prospects and financial rewards, Dubai offers foreign workers a taste of Arabic culture and the chance to explore a vibrant Middle Eastern society. A safe and welcoming place for foreigners, it is also well-positioned in terms of travelling around the Middle East and northern Africa. Weekends away have never looked so exciting!

Dubai’s population of almost 1.5 million people is predominantly male, with females accounting for approximately one-fifth of residents. Much of this has to do with the fact that key industries attracting workers – such as construction, engineering, finance and IT – tend to be male-dominated.

The official language is Arabic but, due to the development of big business and subsequent growth of the expatriate community, English is spoken just about everywhere. Islam is the official religion of Dubai, however all other religions bar Judaism are tolerated. In respect of local customs foreigners tend to dress on the conservative side, although there are no laws banning certain types of clothing.

The purchase and consumption of alcohol in public places is restricted and you need a personal license in order to buy alcohol in a liquor store. The booze news isn’t all gloomy though – consuming alcohol within licensed hotels is allowed and there is no shortage of quality watering holes around town. In fact, the Dubai night life is undoubtedly one of the city’s selling points for young professionals.

Work permits and residency visas — Recruitment Agencies Dubai — Employment Recruiter — Dubai

Regardless of which industry you work in, the most common (and easiest) way for professionals to get work in Dubai is to be sponsored by the company you will work for. Employers usually with the assistance of recruitment agencies — Dubai or the UK will organise the essential paperwork during the recruitment process, so fees for your work permit, residence visa and sometimes provisional accommodation is often included in your salary package when you are hired.

If you are concerned about relocating with your family don’t worry — there are visa options for sponsoring spouses and children to live in Dubai as well. These options should be explained to you by either your Dubai recruitment agency, or by the employer with whom you are dealing directly. Employment visa rules in Dubai are relatively straightforward if you have a willing employer involved.

Tip: browse jobs in your industry by getting in touch with a recruitment agency that places candidates for jobs in Dubai. Recruitment agencies servicing the Dubai job market can be found in Australia, Canada, the UK and Dubai. Get a personal employment recruiter — Dubai focused to help prepare your documents needed for employment visa in Dubai.

Getting a travel visa for Dubai

If you would prefer to look for work whilst in the country, you can enter as a visitor and start the job search whilst scoping out the social scene. Before you even start thinking about interviews, tax-free shopping and balmy nights by the hotel bar, you need to take care of a few essential matters — like your visa! You don’t want to get caught in a tricky situation when you arrive, so make sure you know which type of visa you need well in advance of flying.

Note: Visa regulations for foreign nationals wishing to visit Dubai change frequently. While the below information was correct at time of publication in late 2008, it is always a good idea to double check visa regulations with the UAE Government, your airline and/or tour company prior to planning your trip.

Travel visas for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Canada

Citizens of the above countries — along with US citizens — are entitled to a 30-day Visit Visa for a cost of 500 Dhs (70.00), which can be paid upon arrival. While this visa gives job-seekers some time to make contacts and apply for positions, one month is not a long time to secure a job. It is therefore in your best interests to do as much job seeking preparation as possible before arriving in Dubai.

For jobseekers wishing to stay longer than 1 month in Dubai, a 90-day Visit Visa is available for a cost of 1000 Dhs (140 GBP). For citizens of the a small number of selected countries (including the above) this can also be paid upon arrival in Dubai.

Contact: your nearest UAE embassy or consulate if in any doubt about visa requirements, fees and how to obtain one. These rules change frequently! At the time of writing Dubai Visas online were not available.

Travel visas for South African citizens

South African citizens wishing to travel to Dubai are not able to enter on a Visit Visa, as are nationals of Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Instead, South Africans are required to obtain a 30-day Tourist Visa prior to their arrival in Dubai. These tourist visas incur a non-renewable fee of 100 Dhs (14 GBP), plus a 10 Dhs fee for delivery.

In order to obtain a tourist visa for Dubai, travelers must be sponsored by a company or business legally allowed to operate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Usually this can be arranged through your hotel or tour operator – provided you’ve booked accommodation in advance that is!

Contact: your nearest UAE embassy or consulate if in any doubt about visa requirements, fees and how to obtain one. These rules change frequently!

Transit visas

If travelling to or from the USA or Europe, you can obtain a 96-hour Transit Visa upon arrival, for a cost of 100 Dhs (14 GBP). To obtain this visa you need to be sponsored by the airline you flew with, and need to provide evidence of your onward flight.

Contact: your nearest UAE embassy or consulate if in any doubt about your visa requirements.

See: the Department of Naturalization and Residency — Dubai website or the most up-to-date official information regarding visas and fees.

See: Getting to UAE — Visas and immigration on the UAE Government website for embassy contact details and information on obtaining your Dubai visa.

Working life — Work in Dubai

According to many expats living in Dubai, the city offers a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ lifestyle. The working week for most companies is roughly 40-48 hours, but indoor ski slopes and wave pools mean you never have to travel far for a bit of adventure after hours.

Working hours in are also lower during the September Ramadan (the Islamic Holy month during which Muslims are required to fast between dawn and dusk), when many companies only operate for around 6 hours a day. Most companies also do business on a Sunday–Thursday week, Friday being a day of rest in the Islamic faith.

Dubai’s boom-bust industries and economic free zones

Dubai has a number of economic free zones, around which an array of booming industries have developed, and many put on hold during the financial crisis. While some industries — such as engineering, construction, finance, media and IT — are already firmly established, others are just emerging on Arabia’s sure path to prosperity.

The positioning of most industry hubs is based around the locations of the many economic free zones, which include:

  • Internet City: the headquarters of Dubai’s thriving IT industry.
  • Media City: the focal point of Dubai’s publishing, production, broadcasting and advertising sectors.

At the cross roads of Middle East, Africa and South Asia Dubai Media jobs are an excellent opportunity.

Featured industry — construction and engineering jobs Dubai

Home to the world’s first 7 star hotel, an indoor ski resort and a building shaped like a palm tree perched out in the ocean, the city brags an engineering and construction industry that knows no limits. The illustrious Burj Dubai mega-high rise is the world’s highest tower as well.

With so many innovative projects going on around the clock, the time has never been more ripe for finding work in the industry. Demand for enlarged and enhanced infrastructure to meet Dubai’s rapid population growth is also set to keep engineering and construction professionals busy for years to come.

Why not take your engineering or construction career to the corner of the globe where opportunities for working on pioneering projects are beyond compare? — Visit our featured partners on the right hand side of this page.

Opportunities include Middle East — Jobs in town planning, jobs in construction, project manager jobs, construction manager employment in and Jobs in Engineering.