Monday, April 03, 2006

How Do I Get A Job In Dubai?

Ever since I started this blog, I've had a trickle of people asking that question either through the comments or via email. 'How do I get a job in Dubai?' I've been very happy to answer these enquiries, but lately the trickle has become more of a stream. I've had five such enquiries in the last week. So before the stream becomes a river, any future enquiries of this type will be referred to this post. Sorry an' all that, but time is short.

Remember, I'm just one guy, working in one industry. And despite what I used to tell my son when he was about five, I do not know everything. And half of the stuff that I think I know is actually just my opinion.

The answer to the number one question, how to get a job. Get your ass over here and knock on doors. There is a law here (I think) that says potential employers that you post or email your CV to are under no obligation to read it, and are absolutely forbidden from giving any kind of reply to it. So save the stamps, and when you have three and a half million of them, trade them in for an air ticket. The exception to this rule, of course, is if you see a job advertised in your own country.

The number two question: schools. Yes we have schools. For Westerners (the only flavour of people that write to me on this issue), you have a decent range of options, all of them expensive. For juniors, look at Jebel Ali Primary, Dubai English Speaking, Jumeirah English Speaking and Jumeirah Primary. Major secondary schools are Dubai College, English College, Jumeirah College and Emirates International School (International Baccalaureate). There are others, but the ones mentioned are the longest established. Expect to pay Dhs 30,000 to Dhs 60,000 a year, depending on the age of the child.

The number three question: look at my CV and tell me what I should be paid. I can't. But I can tell you that salaries tend to be stagnant - the idea of even a minimal 'cost of living' increment is pretty much unheard of, because officially there is no inflation (actually there is now, but the Gubment's idea of inflation over the last year - about 4% - bears no relation to the actuality - 30-45%). You need to look very closely at what your remuneration package includes. It used to be the norm that your company would pick up the tab for accommodation, a car, schooling, annual flights home for yourself and family, healthcare etc. These days, this kind of 'package' is increasingly rare - companies are tending to pay a flat salary and you have to sort everything else out for yourself. But working in Dubai is not easy - expect to work long hours, five, five-and-a-half or even six days a week. Don't expect to get any overtime pay.

And: the ultra-subjective question, is it as great as they say it is? Well, I don't know how great 'they' are saying it is. There are many plus points and a fair few minuses. Bear in mind that I am planning to leave in a bit over a year's time - I've had twelve years here, had some great times and some shite times, but really I've had enough.

The good stuff:
No income tax. Sales tax only on booze and meals in hotel restaurants. Affordable domestic help. Food is moderately cheap. Climate is brilliant from October to May. Cars are cheap. Petrol is insanely cheap. Modern, well-developed infrastructure. Safe environment, very little crime. Fantastic roads and interchanges. You're never far from a beach. You're also not far from the desert and mountains. Unbelievable growth. Vibrant multi-cultural society. The old soukhs, if you can get to them. Unlimited ambition.

The bad stuff:
Poor human rights record. Expensive telecoms, censored Internet. Erratic judicial system. The world's worst drivers live here (some of them not for long though). Congestion. Poor public transport (will change in about four years' time when the Metro is open). Shallow. Soulless. Superficial. Restricted job mobility. Vile weather in the summer. Uncontrolled inflation. Limited property ownership / investment opportunities for expats. Racism at all levels.

So I guess the answer is 'suck it and see'. One thing I'm sure of, there's nowhere like it on Earth, so come and have a look, at least.



Blogger samuraisam said...

Is it just me or is everyone I know planning on leaving in a year or two, and have been planning to leave "in a year or two" for the past 10 years?

9:16 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Sam: dunno, but our plan to leave was formulated last summer, and the only reason we can't do it right now is because of BetterArf's employment contract. If not for that I'd be out of here right now!

9:37 pm  
Blogger samuraisam said...

Are you hating it? or feeling nostalgic about back home?

9:53 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like many we know, we have just finalised our decision to leave in the summer. I don't think I can stand this beehive of superficiality any longer to be honest.

10:18 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Sam: hating it a bit - not fatally, but enough. Not going bsck to UK wither - a new adventure!

Anon: yeah, the auld majick has gone, now it's just money money money!

10:25 pm  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Me too. Some are worth helping, and in a couple of cases I've managed to put them in touch with firms that are hiring.

But the enquiries for industries outside my sphere, such as construction, I just have to break the bad news: brickies' labourers get Dh300 a month here if they're lucky, and they live in squalid gulags. Or plumbing: the average "call out" fee here is Dh10 including all the work and parts, not £75 including twelve mugs of builder's tea and not a scrap of work.

1:01 am  
Anonymous Mancunian said...

If you really want to live in the Emirates and live a high standard of living, work in Abu Dhabi an hour and a half away from Dubai. It is the capital city and is sometimes overshadowed by Dubai. You live a higher standard of living in Abu Dhabi than in Dubai. You dont get chaotic traffic like in Dubai. The cost of living is cheaper than Dubai - petrol, food transport, shopping. I consider it more beautiful and more relaxing than Dubai. There are a lot of developments going on in Abu Dhabi too and people say that it will overtake Dubai because it has much more oil wealth. They pay higher salaries in Abu Dhabi for the same reason.

Keefieboy mentioned that you dont get the rent free home, flights, car, school package anymore in Dubai but that is not the case in Abu Dhabi.

So if you want a high living standard in relaxation and comfort for you and your family, visit Abu Dhabi and job-hunt. Try the various national or multinational oil companies (lots of them there). They offer you a very rewarding job.

10:00 am  
Blogger Seabee said...

On another site - a travel site with a forum - we get probably one a day asking about moving here. The whole world seems to want to live in Dubai.

I love the "What's it like there?" and "Is it expensive?" sort of questions. Compared to where and what? Come from India and yes it's bloody expensive here, come from Europe and it's not.

1:56 pm  
Blogger Jin said...

I tend to agree with the comment by Mancunian - Abu Dhabi is a pukka place to live, nowhere's near as commercialised as Dubai & much cheaper too. I know it's expanding, but I honestly hope it'll never end up like Dubai. Having said that, cyberblogspace will be a whole heap worse off if you leave Keefieboy!
I think I'll pull a 'Saudi' on yer......."You are forbidden!!"

8:04 pm  
Blogger Duffy said...


My queston would be about how things have changed since you've arrived.

What's better and what's worse? What are the biggest changes?

How has Dubai changed you? Will you get culture shock when you get home again?

9:24 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

Duffy: when we arrived twelve years ago, Dubai was a town with a population of less than half a million people. You could drive anywhere in Dubai within about ten minutes. You could always find somewhere to park near where you wanted to be. Today the population is estimated at 1.4 million. Parking these days can be a serious challenge, and mobility (roads only, until the Metro is finished) is a serious problem. Dubai has never been the 'melting pot' that some people imagine - it's always been 'ghetto-ised'. When we first arrived, the Brit population was estimated at about 25,000, all of whom had been here longer than us, a lot of them longer than the country itself. It felt like a real community: people would help you out if you had a problem. Everybody had a deep respect for the local culture - there would always be things you didn't like, but hey, you can always leave if you don't like it. Today we have over 100,000 Brits here, and if you look at the letters page of 7days you will see that they are not remotely interested in the local culture, they are expecting (I don't know why) a replica of the UK but with year-round sunshine and no taxes. Demanding to know to the minute when Ramadan will start.

What's better and what's worse? What are the biggest changes?
What's better? Many more shopping malls (lol). Bigger, better roads. Expats can (kind of) buy property. There's a huge move towards Free Zones that allow foreigners 100% ownership of their own businesses. The press is encouraged to be a little more open, but still limited by an archaic federal law.
what's worse
The massive simultaneous developments are fucking up the roads and the environment. Come back in five years and it'll all be fabulous. Probably. Traffic. Rampant inflation that the Government doesn't seem to be remotely interested in controlling. Everything but everything is about money.

How has Dubai changed you? Will you get culture shock when you get home again?
Yes, Dubai has changed me. I have met people from half the countries on the planet. I think I've become a better person - more open and accepting of other cultures, but at the same time more conscious of my own. Will I get culture shock when I go home - I would if I was. Every time I go back to the UK I have a bit of a hard time adjusting. But we are going somewhere else in Europe when we leave here - details to be released in a dribbly, teasy fashion over the next year!

11:44 pm  
Blogger Duffy said...

Thanks Keefie!

4:06 pm  
Blogger samuraisam said...

I bet 10 dhs it is france, southern france to be exact.

5:24 pm  
Blogger Keefieboy said...

U O Me Dhs 10

6:40 pm  
Blogger samuraisam said...


10:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am guessing a clubbing mecca or near as damn it. for ur next move.....

3:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Keffieboy. I am a student living in the uk, and i feel that it may be time for a bit of a change. dubai sounds great, but i know i need to read up on it more. i have completed A levels (although not to the best) and a two year national diploma. i fear that being just a student of 20 such as myself, i may not have much of a chance. however i am determined to see and experience the world and dubai is my main aim at the moment. could you give me some more information for young students such as myself who wants to work there?

8:22 pm  
Blogger gajini said...

i'm a guy who's interested in getting a job in dubai I just want
to know whether getting a network administrator job or a software developer job is easier because i'm good at both (and qualified too). So, if somebody could help me on this one, i would be very
thankful. the designer with 12 years in dubai can you help me?
or anybody else please

12:03 pm  

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