HR Source

Are you thinking about making the move to the UAE? Expats choose to work in the United Arab Emirates for many reasons, but finances, career progression and quality of life are usually at the top of the list. HRSource’s experts look at what you need to know about looking for work, and moving to, the UAE.

Job Opportunities

The UAE has long been known as a global centre for the oil industry, but due to fluctuations in the economy, the country has diversified, investing in a number of new, growing industries. The UAE now offers a wealth of opportunities in the finance, IT and tourism industries, as well as the traditional fishing, petroleum, oil, construction and shipping industries.

The simplest way to move to the UAE for work is to gain sponsorship from an employer. In many cases, this process is simplified if you look for a position with an international organisation which has offices in the UAE. There are a number of international companies which offer an outstanding work environment as well as opportunities for career and travel, and have bases in the UAE. Take a look at The Top Companies to Work For.

Working in the UAE

The UAE is a Muslim country and, although some international companies work to Western hours, most organisations respect Friday as a day of prayer. The working week is Sunday – Thursday, with most organisations operating from 8am – 1pm and 4pm – 7pm (with a siesta break from 1-4); the working day is two hours shorter during Ramadan.  Most organisations give 22 days’ annual leave, in addition to ten days for national holidays.

Cost of living

It is against the law to tax personal income in the UAE. However, you may find that certain goods are more expensive, due to the levy of custom duties and import taxes. Rent can be particularly high in the UAE, as can running a car. You may well revel in the fact that you don’t have to pay tax, but if you are a British National, it is advisable that you find out about the status of your tax and National Insurance contributions, to avoid losing out financially if and when you return to your home country.

Finding the right position

The best way for you to find the right job in the UAE is via a UAE specialist recruitment agency. We have the skills and experience to match the right person to the right position, helping to enhance your quality of life and career opportunities. We will also be able to advise you on additional qualifications and experience that will help to improve your employment prospects.

Before you start applying for jobs, make sure that your resume is up to date and tailored for the industry you want to work in. Most professional qualifications are accepted across the world; if you are in doubt, check with your recruitment consultant.

Visa information

If you are visiting the UAE, you need to make sure that there are at least 6 months remaining on your passport before it expires. For instance, British citizens are given a free, 30-day visa on entry to the UAE; there is no need to secure one beforehand. This visa can be extended for another 30 days at the immigration office, three days before the original visa expires. If you are in the UAE on a visitors’ visa, but decide to stay and work, you must apply for a three-month work permit. Without a permit from the Ministry of Labour, you face being sent to prison, fined or deported.

If you travel to the UAE planning to work, your best option is to secure a position before you go; then you need to make sure that you have sponsorship from your employer.

Employer sponsorship

Once you have been offered a job, your employer will submit an application for a residency visa for you. This will allow you to remain in the UAE for a period of up to three years. Once you have been awarded the residency visa, you will be able to apply to the Ministry of Labour for a work permit; it is usual for your employer to cover the costs of this application, but your recruitment consultant will be able to negotiate timescales and financial implications between you and your new employer. 

Living and working in the UAE can be culturally, professionally and financially rewarding. As a Muslim country, however, it is important that you understand laws and customs, to prevent yourself from causing offence.

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