A Guide to Working in Dubai

6 min
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The popular UAE city has been a major hotspot for expatriate and contractors with the number of individuals moving and working in Dubai increasing each year.

After all, Dubai is considered the financial centre and business hub for the Middle East. So, whether you’re thinking about relocating to Dubai or you’ve already secured a work placement you should certainly research the lifestyle and challenges, as well as the pros and cons of living and working in Dubai. We’ve put together a guide for useful information and helpful advice to make the experience of working and living in Dubai as seamless as possible.

Visas, Permits and other Documentation

Like most other countries, Dubai requires the issuing of visas, permits and other documentation needed to enter and work in the country. The process is tightly controlled and is subject to strict bureaucratic procedures. Here are some documents required to enter Dubai:

  • A valid passport for at least three months from the date of entry for tourist purposes, six months for business travels (it’s useful to have at least three or four photocopies)

  • At least six passport size photographs

  • Workers may need a copy of the labour/tenancy contract

  • Cheap passport copy of the sponsor

  • Travel Insurance

Visas (as well as any appropriate entry and residence visas) are required if you intend to live and work in Dubai. If you have taken up work in Dubai, your sponsor or employer will normally arrange the necessary visas and permits as well as any other important documents.

The type of Visa and document for anyone who intends to work in Dubai would be a Resident Visa and a Labour Card. To obtain these, you must first undergo a medical examination and you will soon be issued a residence visa and then a labour card. A labour card is an identity card that needs to be carried at all times as you may be spot-checked by labour officials.

You can find out more about Visas and other documentation on the Emirates website.

Working in Dubai

So if you have arranged to work in Dubai, whether that through your own arrangements or through a current employer, or sponsor, it’s important to know what the working lifestyle in Dubai is like. Workplaces in Dubai offer a very multi-cultural experience with over 200 nationalities living in the UAE. Dubai allows plenty of foreign workers into its territory but it’s typically on a temporary basis. Expatriates aren’t generally allowed to become part of the permanent population but are still dealt with in a fair, controlled way and are paid very well for their efforts.  

Financially, working in Dubai or anywhere in the United Arab Emirates, will serve you well as they operate a tax-free environment, meaning that you can keep 100% of whatever you earn. Salaries tend to be greater than those paid in Western countries as there is no personal taxation meaning net income is higher, which is one of the major attractions to working in Dubai. However, if you do leave the country before one year you will have to pay tax on what you earn. Also, despite the attractive salary, you’ll find that living in Dubai can be very expensive with most of your pay going towards rent, goods and travel. It’s not just about the money though, many people will move to Dubai to advance their career or simply go for the experience.

One of the first things you should do when you first arrive in Dubai is open up a bank account. Banking can be different here as the Al Tihad credit bureau is still quite new and there is no individual credit scoring yet which means banking can feel very bureaucratic. Direct debit are also quite new with post-dated cheques and standing order still being the preferred methods of payment.

The working hours aren’t so too different from Western countries and tend to vary between 40 to 48 hours from 9:00 am to 5:30 pm. However, some companies may split the working day into two so this could be from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Another difference is that Friday is the Muslim day of rest and the weekend falls on a Friday and Saturday. In the month of Ramadan, the working day is reduced to six hours which should legally apply to all staff but many companies may apply it to Muslims only as they fast during daylight hours.

Salaries in Dubai

The average salary package for a professional with 5 years’ experience in IT can vary between 25,000 and 40,000 dirhams per month. This figure can depend on age, experience and education, of course. Many companies tend to pay in packages that also include flights (for you and your family), accommodation and all statutory fees and charges.

The Dubai Lifestyle

Well, the obvious factor to mention about working and living in Dubai is the heat. It is very hot and can be like that up to 8 months of the year with the humidity soaring up to more than 90% at the peak of summer. This is why air conditioning is a requirement and most apartments and houses will have it as standard. Even walking to work can be problematic even if you’re nearby.

You could of course drive, but driving is quite notorious in the UAE with Dubai having one of the highest death tolls in the world per head of population. Despite this, Dubai does have a great road network but is stricken with an abundance of fast cars and a huge range of nationalities on the road that have different and varying driving standards. We’re not saying it’s dangerous to drive on Dubai’s roads but it should be met with caution. Dubai does have a Metro system with 20 stations and also connects to a tram service too. There is also an extensive bus service with air-conditioned buses and bus stops too but the easiest way to get around is simply hailing a taxi and you shouldn’t have any trouble find one.

Dubai is a living breathing, city filled with quality, luxury and beautiful attention to detail. With skyscrapers that dominate the sky and picturesque views that will delight any eye, living and working in Dubai truly offers a unique experience. There is always something to see and do in the city plus a vibrant nightlife and plenty of events too. As you might expect, UAE is fairly strict with laws and regulations but is quite tolerant and open to other cultures and religions despite being an Islamic country. If you arrive during Ramadan, you’ll find the city to be a lot quieter and peaceful. Though you cannot eat, drink, smoke or even chew gum in public during fasting daylight hours, whatever your religion is.

Living and working in another country or city, especially one as awe-inspiring as Dubai can be a challenge but it’s a popular destination for many skilled contractors who are looking for the next challenge in their career. Making the move is a big decision but it’s one that can result in a fantastic salary package, great climate (for the most part) and an exciting nightlife. The multi-cultural aspect is a fantastic way to learn and observe other people’s customs, language and ways of life.

Though whilst this might be good for some, there are those who prefer not to work with other nationalities but their own due to the different working styles. For most people, you may not find yourself integrating too much anyway as your time in Dubai has an end date after all. You don’t really need to learn the language or integrate into society like you would do in other countries due to the number of different nationalities there but you will certainly have a unique experience living and working in Dubai.

Finding an IT job in Dubai

If you feel that the Dubai lifestyle is the next step in your IT career than we can help get you started. We have all sorts of IT jobs in Dubai from

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