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).