How to Get a Job in Dubai & UAE Why Is It so Hard to Get a Job in Dubai What Documents Do You Need How to Find a Job in Dubai (Step-by-Step) How to Apply for a Job Without Experience How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job in the UAE Final Thoughts
How to Get a Job in Dubai & UAE Why Is It so Hard to Get a Job in Dubai What Documents Do You Need How to Find a Job in Dubai (Step-by-Step) How to Apply for a Job Without Experience How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job in the UAE Final Thoughts
Updated 05/01/2021

How to Get a Job in Dubai & UAE

Want to live and work in the place ranked first in the Middle East and fifth in the world for expats? Read this article to learn how to find a secure job in Dubai & UAE.

Want to live and work in the place ranked first in the Middle East and fifth in the world for expats? Read this article to learn how to find a secure job in Dubai & UAE.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the United Arab Emirates is one of the world’s wealthiest countries with a rapidly developing economy. 40% of its gross domestic product (GDP) comes from the oil industry, but tourism, construction, trade, and finance contribute to the growth of this rather young country.

The UAE’s 48 years of independent history has no analogs in the pace of development. Within a short time, the desert turned into a state that attracts people from all over the world. It is among the top 5 countries with the highest share of expats in the total population (almost 80% out of 9.5 million residents). This can be explained by the relatively liberal society that attracts people from the USA, the UK, Canada, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, South Africa, and even New Zealand.

In this article, you will find out how to get hired in the UAE and Dubai, which is considered one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Our tips for both fresh graduates and experienced professionals will show you that landing a job in the UAE can be real.


Why Is It so Hard to Get a Job in Dubai

Dubai is the largest city in the UAE. Its population tops 3 million, which is almost twice as much as the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi. However, it is quite challenging to find work in the UAE in general and in Dubai. Here are the reasons why.

  1. Labor market size
    If you compare the average number of population and workers in the UAE to those in more developed economies (for instance, American), you will see the gap. There are fewer jobs available in the local labor market, given its size.
  2. Market competitiveness
    The interest in relocating and getting employment in Dubai and the UAE is very high, making the recruiters more “choosy” when selecting a candidate. A simple rule of supply and demand works here, making it hard to compete and reaffirming the need to stand out from other candidates.
  3. Emiratisation in the private sector
    Due to the significant number of foreigners working in the UAE in general, and in Dubai, the local population has fewer job opportunities. That is why, before giving the job to an expat, the government checks whether it can be given to local job seekers first. Thus, the process of getting a job for expats is becoming more complicated.

What Documents Do You Need

If you are planning to relocate to the UAE, you need to know that you cannot get UAE citizenship unless you have been legally living in the country for 33 years. Moreover, you should speak the Arabic language and earn a living lawfully. What you can do first is apply for a specific type of visa.

Get the Right Visa Type

The UAE government issues several types of visas, depending on the aim of your visit.

  • Tourist Visa
    Tourist visas in the UAE can be issued for 30 or 90 days for a single or multiple entries. Most of the country’s visitors don’t need to get a visa in advance since it is issued upon arrival. But, depending on the country, your visa validity period may differ.
  • 30-day visa90-day visa
    Canada, USA, UK, Andorra, Australia, China, Russian Federation, Brunei, Hong Kong, China, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, Singapore, Ukraine, Vatican CityFrance, Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Uruguay
  • Student visa
    A student visa is issued either for foreigners who are students of the UAE universities or expats’ children enrolled in one of the UAE higher educational institutions.
  • Residence Visa
    This visa works for foreigners who have already entered the UAE. The applicant needs to find a sponsor to support the visa application and pass a medical examination and a security check.
  • Retirement Visa
    Retirement visas are valid for 5 years and are issued to pensioners who have reached 55.
  • Medical Visa
    Foreign patients can get medical visas to enter the UAE for treatment. They also need the sponsorship of a medical institution.

There is also an Employment Entry Visa and a work permit, which are needed if you want to get employed and work legally in the UAE.

It is illegal to work under a tourist visa, but you can come to the country to start your search and then change the status.

How to Get a Work Permit

  1. Visa Quota approval
    This document is issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). Usually, the employer applies for this on behalf of the employee. The approval process is quite quick and typically takes 3 days.
  2. Job offer
    You need to sign the job offer and return it to the employer. The offer must be in English and Arabic (and in the employee’s native language, if different).
  3. Approval checks
    The government checks everything to guarantee that the unemployed UAE citizens cannot do this job. The MoHRE also verifies the background information about the employer. It usually takes 5 days.
  4. Employment Entry Visa
    Also known as a pink visa, it allows applicants to enter the UAE legally. This permit is valid for 2 months from the issue date enabling the holder to stay in the country for 30 days.
  5. Once you’ve got your Employment Entry Visa, you have 60 days to complete all the formalities required and obtain a work permit.

  6. Medical Screening
    The UAE requires all foreigners to undergo a medical examination before issuing a work permit. Foreigners with HIV, Hepatitis C, and Tuberculosis are banned from residing in the country.
  7. ID Application/Biometrics
    The applicant needs to go to the Emirates ID Service Center to show a passport and Employment Entry Visa and pass biometric tests.
  8. Sign a contract
    A signed employment contract is a part of the work permit application. It must be sent to MoHRE or download to its website within 14 days after you get the medical results.
  9. As soon as your work permit is issued, you can receive your salary through the official UAE system.

And don’t forget about mandatory health insurance. The work permit cannot be issued or renewed without a valid insurance card. Some employers may cover it for foreign workers, or they must buy it themselves.

Costs of a Work Permit

The cost of a work permit depends on the category of your company and your qualifications.

Level 1Level 2Level 3
Individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree.Individuals with a post-secondary diploma in any fieldIndividuals with a high school diploma
For example: Manager, Engineer, Teacher, Accountant, Accounts Clerk, Doctor, Pharmacist, Administration Officer, Reservation Officer, Public Relations Officer, etc.Mechanical and technical jobsFor example: Sales Representative, Site Supervisor, Administration Clerk, Correspondence Clerk, Clearing Clerk, Ticketing Clerk, Cash Desk Clerk, Receptionist, Cashier, etc.
AED 300Level A: AED 500
Level B: AED 1,000
Level C: AED 1,500
Level D: AED 2,000
AED 5,000

The second category is divided into levels, depending on the number of skilled workers the company employs:
Level A: over 40% of the employees are skilled
Level B: 10 – 40% of the employees are skilled
Level C: 5 -10% of the employees are skilled
Level D: less than 5% of the employees are skilled

Usually, your employer is responsible for covering the costs of the work permit in the UAE.


How to Find a Job in Dubai (Step-by-Step)

Working in Dubai can be financially beneficial. There is no personal tax here, so net income is usually much higher than in other countries. This is one of the reasons why people choose the UAE as a destination for their career development. Continue reading to find out how to search for a job in Dubai.

Where You Can Work in Dubai and the UAE

The UAE’s natural oil resources have helped finance the country’s growth, but the financial crisis of 2008-9 hit the UAE hard, causing the swing of oil prices. Since then, the country has significantly diversified in finance, trade, tourism, fishing, fertilizers, repair of commercial ships, construction, textiles, retail, logistics, hospitality, and entertainment.

Among the leading employers are:

  • DHL in logistics;
  • Omnicom Media Group in media;
  • Splash in retail;
  • Hilton Worldwide in hospitality;
  • The One in retail;
  • AstraZeneca Gulf in pharmaceuticals;
  • 3M in manufacturings;
  • EMC in IT;
  • Estee Lauder in health and beauty;
  • Dulsco in HR and industrial services.
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Where You Can Search for Jobs

There are several job search approaches, and they may depend on the position you are applying for. For instance, when looking for a managerial job, be ready to deal with a recruitment agency. When filling non-core positions like administrators, office assistants, etc. you can use company websites or job boards.

  1. Company Websites
    If you already know the company you want to work for, go online and find its website. Most of them have a vacancy section where jobs, as well as requirements, are posted. This might speed up the application process since you will be in direct contact with the company.
  2. Job Boards
    A Job Board is one of the easy ways to search for a job. You can use both local websites and world-famous job boards. A few of the most popular include:
    • Dubizzle
      Since its launch in 2005, this has become a leading classifieds site in the Middle East and North Africa.
    • Bayt
      This recruitment resource for job seekers, employers, and job consultants in the Middle East and North Africa has almost 5000 jobs and is updated every day.
    • Monster Gulf
      Monster Gulf is a Monster company branch in the Gulf region that published not only job listings but useful career advice and tips.
    • Gulf Talent
      This online recruitment portal works for over 9 million local and foreign professionals, from civil engineers to marketing directors and CFOs. It serves as the primary source for more than 10,000 major employers in the region.
    • GN Careers
      Using this website, you can find jobs, career news, advice, employment law updates, etc.
  3. Recruitment Agencies
    Recruitment through an agency is one of the simplest methods. First, you will be offered only trusted employers, as most companies rely on recruitment agencies to promote their jobs. Second, it will save you time with your job search and money, since the agencies don’t charge candidates for their services.

    We’ve made a list of the best recruitment agencies in UAE that work with both locals and expats:

    • Hays
      This company has been operating in the UAE for the past decade. You can search for a job by yourself using the website or ask consultancy managers to provide you with in-depth advice and find a job.
    • Nadia
      Since 1983, this agency has employed more than 230,000 employees in the Middle East. Its professional recruiters know the local labor market and hiring opportunities in the UAE.
    • BAC Middle East
      BAC is based in Dubai and is one of the best recruiters for the UAE's largest employers.
    • Charterhouse Middle East
      Charterhouse operates in several countries around the world and has a good reputation in talent acquisition and employment. They help the employer and potential candidate to make the perfect match.
  4. Networking
    Dubai is also known for hiring internally and through references. Your network of friends and partners can be of great help when you are looking for a job in Dubai. If they work for the company you are targeting, let them know that you are job hunting and ask them to become your point of reference.
Your chances of getting a job are 6.6% higher if you know someone from the company who can recommend you.

Highly Important Tips

  • Start a job search beforehand. If you are planning to come to the UAE with a tourist visa and search for a job on the spot, we advise you to send your CV a week before your flight to Dubai. Then you may have some interviews upon arrival, increasing your chances of finding a job quickly. Dubai is an expensive city, so you need a dependable source of income.
  • Choose the right time. Spring and summer are a time for holidays such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, and Eid Al-Adha, while December and the first part of January are Christmas and New Years. Given this, the best time to search and apply for a job in Dubai and the UAE is from mid-January to April, when most companies allocate new budgets, and from September to November.

How to Apply for a Job Without Experience

Dubai is a vibrant city that offers many opportunities for those who live and work here, but it can be hard to get a job if you only have a college degree and no work experience. However, we will share some tips that can help you in landing your first job in Dubai.

Monitor the Websites

We have already mentioned some job boards, but Dubizzle, Indeed, Go Abroad, and Dubai Minds are especially useful for candidates without experience. Using them, you can find not only job listings that may match your skills but also internships. Some of them also contain practical recommendations on how to get a job in Dubai for freshers.

Focus on Transferable Skills

If you do not have the experience, and your sector-specific skills are limited to the theory, focus on the transferable ones. They can be transferred from one situation or work place to another and show how you interact with people, such as interpersonal skills, organizational skills, leadership skills, etc.

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Try Part-Time Jobs

Part-time is one of the best ways to get the experience you need and still have some free time for self-development and labor market research.

Use Social Media

Create Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles. As a young qualified graduate, you can join particular groups to connect with professional circles.

Never Stop Learning

Participate in seminars, conferences, and courses, if possible. This will not only help you gain knowledge but also show your dedication and commitment. Additionally, your tutors or coursemates can expand your network.


How to Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job in the UAE

Given the increasing competition for jobs in the UAE, it is more than essential to stand out from other candidates. And we’ve prepared a list of important things that will help you increase the chances of landing a job in the UAE.

Solid CV

There are two types of application documents: CV and resume. The difference between them primarily lies in the length. Short resumes, typically used for most Western countries, may not work in the UAE. To apply for a job here, you need to prepare a comprehensive 2-3 page CV and sell yourself as the most valuable asset. Make sure that you present your work very positively, showing quantitative and qualitative results you have achieved.

Additionally, many local companies will expect you to include your nationality, gender, religion, and photo, which is not typical for Western countries.

Convincing Cover Letter

A convincing cover letter will play no less important role than a CV in getting you invited for an interview. Think about your strengths. Focus on your professional and personal qualities and how they can be useful for the company. Moreover, your cover letter should be unique. Customize it according to each position's requirements and don't copy information from your resume.

Choose the Right Hours

We recommend sending your applications either late in the evening or early in the morning. This will help you be among the first candidates the recruiters will see in the morning. In combination with a solid CV and convincing cover letter, you may be able to catch their attention.

Get a Local Number

Even if it is not the first thing on your list, we recommend getting a local mobile card as soon as possible. This will make you more contactable and show that you are indeed on the ground. You only need a passport to buy it in any mall.

Get Prepared for an Interview

UAE companies can be selective. Thus, an interview is your chance to make the best impression. Research the company to show you know its activities and think about your questions to the employer beforehand.

Since the UAE is a conservative country with Islamic culture, you should also consider:

  • choosing modest clothes when dressing for an interview
  • and when meeting a UAE citizen of the opposite gender, wait until they extend their hand for a handshake. Always use your right hand, as using the left one can be considered as an insult.

Final Thoughts

Working in Dubai can be profitable and exciting. The high salaries and low taxes make it a mecca for everyone who wants to make big money. However, it is essential to remember that Dubai is an Arab city located in a Muslim country. That is why everyone living and working in Dubai should know and respect both local traditions and laws.

If you are open to new cultures and new opportunities for your career advancement in the UAE and Dubai, follow our guide and don’t forget to create a persuasive self-presentation.

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