Dubai jobs and employment
Dubai is growing rapidly - the fastest growing city in the world according to many (Update: well, it was, until a bunch of bankers interfered with the global financial system resulting in Dubai coming to a grinding halt in late 2008). It follows then that there are a large number and variety of jobs in Dubai waiting for workers from all countries and professions. For some it is a fantastic experience with an enjoyable lifestyle, good professional development and an opportunity to save (or spend) some extra tax-free cash. But as they say, Caveat Emptor ...
If you found this page because you're looking for the recruitment agency called "Jobs in Dubai" (apparently based in Canada), see the discussion about www.jobsindubai.com. It has a mixed reputation.
Types of Jobs and Salaries in Dubai
Finding a Job in Dubai
As in any other country, there are many ways to obtain a job. The Gulf News has a separate section almost every day (not Fridays) with job listings including many from the various job agencies. The Khaleej Times also has a situations vacant section.
Recruitment Agencies and Consultants in Dubai
Writing a CV or Resumé
Work Visas (or Work Permits) in the UAE
Note that the words 'permit' and 'visa' are often mixed up. What's important to remember is that you need two separate permissions. One for working in Dubai and one for staying in Dubai. The permission to stay in Dubai is what's stamped in your passport (the visa), and the permission to work is a labor card (the permit - is a separate document).
Anyone working in a job in Dubai (and the UAE) who is not a UAE citizen (or GCC national) must have a work visa / work permit / labour card (three names often used for the same thing, although "work visa" is easily confused with "employment visa" which is an entry visa, not a work permit). This is not the same as a residence visa which is stamped in your passport. Unless you are setting up your own company, or you happen to be the PRO for your company, someone else in the company should arrange the work permit for you. The company is responsible for all visa costs. Efficient companies will get your work and residence permits organised in a matter of days. But it is not unusual to wait weeks or even months for visas to be arranged. One reason is probably to do with the probation period - companies are reluctant to get the visas processed in case you are dismissed during your probationary period.
Sponsorship in the UAE
Working Without a Work Permit
When applying for, or accepting a job in Dubai, you should not pay any fees for any part of the job application, work permit, or visa application process. According to UAE law, the employer is responsible for all visa costs, and UAE job agencies are not supposed to ask applicants for job search fees, although many do. If any UAE job agency asks you for visa fees however, that should set off warning bells.
Maternity leave in Dubai and UAE
See discussion topic on Dubai FAQs forum about maternity leave in the UAE for more information.
Non-payment of wages and salaries
Non or delayed payment of salaries is an issue that is rarely resolved in favor of the employee. Management in Dubai jobs are well aware of the poor reputation some companies and sectors have for not paying their workers. So if you end up in a situation where salary is not paid, and the company does not obviously do their utmost to rapidly rectify that (ignore what they say, it's what they do that is important), then you have, unfortunately, probably walked into a job in Dubai which is not going to turn out very well.
Working Conditions and Unions in the UAE
During 2005 there was some unrest amongst the large number of construction workers in Dubai, with some protests (especially over unpaid salaries) and investigations resulting in Dubai gaining less desirable publicity in the international media. This may have prompted some changes in the treatment of the working class - albeit slowly. Present law says that unions are illegal although there is talk of changing this. However, apparently only UAE nationals will be allowed to form unions. Ongoing discussions in 2006 with the ILO (International Labour Organisation) and with the USA regarding a Free Trade Agreement have also resulted in closer scrutiny of various employment issues and working conditions.
Passports and companies keeping your passport
See more information about sponsor passport retention in UAE.
A large number of employers keep expat employee passports in the UAE despite it being illegal. Save yourself a lot of bother and before you sign on the dotted line, ask about the company policy on keeping passports. If they say they don't, assume they are lying until you can verify independently that they are not. If they say they do, then at least you know before accepting a job, and can decide whether to continue with the process or try to find a different employer.
Residency and Employment Bans
See the UAE visa ban information
Hours of Work and Holidays
Most jobs in Dubai are either 5 days, 5 and a half, or 6 days per week. Make sure you know before signing. A number of people have arrived to find themselves unexpectedly working more than five days per week. The working week changed from Saturday - Wednesday to Sunday - Thursday for the public sector in September 2006. The private sector working week varies but mostly follows the government/public sector, and Friday is a common holiday or day off for all sectors.
Public holidays come in two varieties. The fixed dates - for example New Year on 01 January. And the changing ones for example Eid Al Ahda - the actual days are not announced until shortly before the holiday starts which depends on moon sightings.
Most jobs in Dubai will also give you about 4 weeks paid vacation time per year in addition to the public holidays.
If a ruler dies (either in the UAE or another Arabic country) it is common for the public sector to close for several days for mourning, the private sector shuts down also but not usually for as long. It is inappropriate to refer to these periods as holidays but employees are entitled to be paid for those days when they're not working.
What to Wear - Clothes in Dubai
Dress conservatively - for office jobs in Dubai, men should wear a tie (and the usual accoutrements) but a jacket is not so common. Companies will usually make it clear if they have very conservative dress expectations of women, otherwise women can wear much the same as in a comparable job in a western country (unless you have what would be regarded as extreme or unusual tastes in clothing). If working in the public sector, expect to dress more conservatively.
Natural fibers are regarded as more suitable for the hot Dubai climate but remember that inside the office at your job, the air-conditioning can be quite cool.
Arabic is the offical language of Dubai but English is the common denominator amongst the many different nationalities working in jobs in Dubai, at least in the private sector. If there is a language requirement other than English, that should be made clear to you before you accept a job in Dubai. It's useful to be able to speak Arabic but not essential for most jobs. Most expatriates speak very little, and read even less Arabic, even after working in Dubai for many years.
Straight and Split Shifts
For some companies the working day is split in two and employees work something like 0800-1300 and then again from 1600-1900. More and more companies in Dubai are following a straight shift where employees work from 0800-1700 or 0900-1800 or similar.
Minimum working age in Dubai
Maximum age limit for jobs in Dubai
From September 2005, expatriates can renew their labour cards up to the age of 65 (or 70 for a selected list of professions). The renewal is yearly instead of three-yearly over the age of 60. Previously the age limit was 60, or 65 for the following professions: engineers, doctors, university professors, accountants and auditors, laboratory and electronic equipment technicians, specialists in privately-owned oil companies, specialists in the media, lawyers, translators, and consultants in all fields or other professions agreed on by the undersecretary of labour or the assistant undersecretary.
Student and part-time jobs in Dubai
In many countries it is common for students at school and university or college to try and find part-time or temporary work. However, for expat students, this is technically not possible since a student visa does not entitle you to work. In practice though, there are odd jobs around that need doing - tutoring is one possibility. Students taking on any such employment should realise they have no legal protection if they have a complaint against their employer (but their employer will be in trouble too), and it is possible to get in trouble with the authorities - a fine and deportation is more likely than a jail sentence if caught.
Students working as a trainee at companies in jobs related to their studies, or doing an internship, are not regarded as employees and so still don't have any rights under the labour law. Even if they get financial compensation (and it would be wise not to draw attention to that).
The Khaleej Times 28 December 2007 reported that a ministerial decision was issued by the Minister of Labour, Dr Al Kaabi, to allow 15-18 year old expat residents to be employed in light work (stacking groceries for example, but not building roads). They could either get a 6 month temporary work permit or permanent labour card, and work part-time or full-time, but not over-time. It is not clear at this stage if expats with student visas can take advantage of this new rule, and probably not relevant since students with student visas are likely to be over 18 and excluded anyway (students under 18 are usually on their parents' sponsorship).
The same report also mentioned an earlier labour ministry decision that would allow students to take up paid employment during summer vacation time, but further details were not given, and MOL website does not clarify this information.
Emirati students can work part-time, full-time, and during holidays since Emirati nationals don't need work permits or residency visas. Subject to any restrictions such as age limits.
Contact the Ministry of Labour
Toll free tel 800665 in the UAE, or see the Labour Department UAE list of contact numbers.
Last update Saturday 25-Sep-2010