Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Working in Dubai

This article was prompted by an email I received from one of my fans this morning, wanting to know how to get a job in Dubai.

Basically I would say that the golden rule is to be here. Come for a visit, knock on doors and be persistent. Plan to stay for a month if you can. Very few organisations will respond to speculative applications from overseas. Obviously if you do see a job advertised here in the press in your country, then apply for it.

Once you're here you'll see lots of jobs advertised in the press. There are also several recruitment agencies. These might work for you, but remember that most jobs are never advertised - if you approach a company that you think you might want to work for, and they like you, the chances are they'll at least interview you and possibly hire you.

The legal situation for working here is a bit weird. I'm just going to talk about the employer-employee scenario here (if you're setting up your own business then things are somewhat different - maybe another article). Legally, you cannot work in this country unless you are sponsored by the company that you work for, although ladies can sometimes get a Labour Card if they are sponsored by their husband or father. A Labour Card is basically your work permit. Once you have your Labour Card you can apply for a Residence Visa that allows you to stay in the country for three years.

Remuneration. Be aware that there is a huge amount of racism and sexism in this country. And it is not illegal. So, for example, a teacher from the subcontinent might be paid Dhs 2,000 a month (the Dirham is tied to the US$ - 3.67 dirhams is 1 dollar). That's an appallingly low salary, but the logic of this is that it's about 10 times what they could earn in India. Westerners generally will get the same as they would in their home country, but there is no income tax here, so theoretically you might be better off. Married ladies can expect to be paid substantially less than they are worth because they are not the main breadwinner, and it is assumed by some companies that they are only working for a laff.

And then we come to 'the package'. Traditionally, the status of an expat has been 'guest worker', you can only stay as long as your job lasts. You could not buy property here until two years ago, and you would certainly have to send your kids to an expensive private school, or 'public' school as we Brits like to call them to confuse everyone else. Employment packages usually include; big fat salary (hah!); free accommodation or rent allowance; car; medical expenses; annual flights home for you and your family; school fees (less common these days).



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I appreciate your insight into the matter.


5:34 pm  
Blogger Duffy said...

Interesting. A few years ago I was looking into the UAE for employment and did some online searching and found the salaries advertised to be considerably lower than what I was making at the time. Is that b/c they're advertised overseas? I chalked it up to a difference in cost of living but the COLA calculator I found online tells me otherwise.

You mentioned racism against people from the subcontinent. Does it affect anybody else? Is there a caste system? (not de jure but de facto)

6:23 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Hmmm. The salary range is quite astonishing. I think if you are joining a multinational outfit then the pay would be on a par with Western standards (for a Westerner).

The problem here is that we literally are at the crossroads of east and west. So you really get to see that a construction worker or a maid from the subcontinent can not only live on a salary of Dhs 800 a month (about $200), but also be able to send enough money home so that after maybe five years they can buy a house for cash in their home country.

Cost of living here in the last year has just gone insane - the main cause is house rents, which are rocketing. Prices of imported goods have risen because of the dodgy dollar (which means that anything from Europe is now 20% more costly than it used to be).

As far as a 'caste' system, not officially. But all companies know very well what nationalities they need for a particular job, and will usually state that quite clearly in their job ad. If it's an Indian-owned company, they are not likely to want (or be able to pay) a Westerner. It's a fairly complex sociological wossname - companies need people that will blend into their corporate culture. But they also need people who can communicate effectively with their clients (or the clients they would like to have).

And all companies need to be competitive in their particular markets - they certainly would not employ a Western truck driver when a Bangladeshi one can do the job for a fraction of the cost. So you only really find Westerners in management jobs, or in specialised niches.

7:01 pm  
Anonymous Richard2005 said...

What's it like for university students to find jobs there? A friend and I are thinking of going over to work for the summer because I've heard Dubai is awesome especially if you're young and that there's no income tax. But I've also heard the price of living can be high and that unskilled jobs are taken up by workers from the Third World who will work for less. Can it be done and if so, what type of jobs should we look for?

12:24 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whot is he situation for air-conditioning, refrigeration engineers.
I was thinking of trying for a job.
All I can find so faf on the net are IT type jobs

11:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about Medical Professionals? Is it easy to find a job in that field? Which is the right channel to approach?

10:53 am  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

To both anons and anybody else. Please read this!

12:54 pm  
Blogger Josephine's Jewels said...

I would like to sell my goods in Dubai. How can I.
Please visit

4:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Keefieboy, I am a 56 year old English guy currently living and working in Malta. I am getting to the point where retirement beckons (next year max) and was wondering about buying a small apartment in Dubai in order that my wife and I can spend 4 or 5 months of the winter there. How do you reckon the cost of lving compares to the UK? Eating out, buying food in supermarkets etc. And, more importantly, are there local taxes that one should be aware of? I presume a tourist visa is easy to get hold of but this probably wouldn't allow us to stay for a few months. Any info would be greatly appreciated. By the way, what are your thoughts on property purchase at the moment? There seems to be stacks of it going up so maybe the price bubble is going to burst - surely there can't be thousands of people wanting to buy there? (OK, the Beckhams of this world will be buying the top class villas but there seem to be loads of two bedroomed apartments available which presumably are for the more normal people :-) )

2:44 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Steve In Malta: pls send me your email address...keefieboy at gmail dot com

5:25 pm  
Blogger Marshal Montgomery said...

Excellent blog i have a blog related to your blog as well to view visit Jobs in Dubai

10:53 am  
Blogger Tami said...

How likely is it for a foreigner (American) with little work experience in finance to find a comparable job in Dubai? Thanks

7:47 pm  
Blogger shlinda said...

hmm,iwas thinking of moving to dubia,for a new start as i am a widow and my child ren have flown the next,i am aqualified hairdresser,and would like to wook in one of the hotel salons out it safe for me to do this?ifound your blog very informing and fun.thanks.

1:42 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Shlinda: perfectly safe, but whether you would be paid enough to live on is debatable.

3:37 pm  
Blogger Cambyses said...

Hi! I will be working in Al Quasis (Dubai). I am looking for a decent 1 or 2 BR BHK Apartment (with lift) in/near Al Quasis. i find it very difficult to obtain property info from the net. Most advert for apartment to let are without photos, address and lack of property description. hence, I really do not what to expect. Appreciate if some one could recommend/advise me on which apartment, the current market and preferrably with photos.


1:35 pm  
Blogger Gareth Sutton said...

Hi.. i am 19 years old as is my girlfriend. I have been offered a position in dubai as a personal trainer. I was just wondering what it would be like for my girlfriend over there and what sort of things she could be.. being young and not married. Would they accept us living togeather? and how much can i accept to pay to rent a standard house/flat for the both of us?
thanks for your help on this!

11:11 pm  
Blogger levcool said...

Dear sir/ madam

I am a Ngah man from North west in cameroon. I am badly looking for a job with accommodation would like to work if anyone can provide an accommodation to live inn .I am ready to work any kind of job. I badly need this job. If you can afford me a job i will take care of my visa and flight charges. send me an email at

3:51 pm  
Blogger Andy said...

Useful post. I did one myself outlining items I would consider for moving to Dubai . you can see it here:

7:13 pm  
Blogger Reezal Jai said...

Hi there,
My name is Jai and i am from Malaysia,I will flying to Dubai in 3 weeks and was hoping to get your feedback on certain matters.
1)Is 3500dhs enough if accomodation,transport,food,medical are covered?
2)Would you know the charges to send money home?
3)Is it hard to get raw asian food there or actual asian food being sold that is good?
4)Would you know if the staff employed in most of the hotels there are expatriates?

Thanks in advance

12:49 pm  
Blogger Reezal Jai said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:09 pm  

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