The labour market in Dubai

Dubai labour market
Updated 2021-11-11 13:35

Dubai is one of the most desirable destinations for any expat in a peaceful and secure country. Home of sand, fuel and ocean, the success story of this city is such that everyone wants to be a part of it. Hosting major international events, Dubai remains one of the world's prime destinations for work and investment.

Economy and infrastructure

The United Arab Emirates has the most diversified economy in the GCC region. Being the most vibrant city of the UAE, Dubai is also known for being a leading trading hub for the entire Middle East and Africa. Today, trade, tourism and foreign investments are the most significant contributors to the Dubai economy. Even though the market is changing every day, more and more expats are willing to take the risk of leaving their own country and contribute to Dubai's economic growth. Besides, the city has a massive infrastructure with huge malls, attraction parks, exhibition centres, etc.

The most promising fields

Employment opportunities in Dubai are increasing year after year, especially in the service sector. This sector includes trade, restaurants, hotels, transportation, storage, communication, finance, insurance, real estate, business services, community, social and personal services, etc.

Even though the booming construction sector has not been able to avoid the impact of the financial crisis, construction works are still going on, especially government buildings. Residential property developers are doing their best to attract foreign investments.

The local workforce

Currently, the local workforce is made up of 90- 95% of expats in different positions including management, accounting, health, education, architecture. It's worth noting that Dubai has the perfect geographical location for international companies. However, it's worth noting that some positions in these companies are restricted to professionals with specific geographical backgrounds. For instance, you may see job posts asking for 'UK/US educated' or 'Arabs only'. Those job discriminations are openly practised since there is no law to regulate them. The same applies to salaries. Foreign professionals with a Western background are entitled to higher wages than those from South Asia or Africa, for example.

Work contract

All expats are employed under contract and require a visa to obtain employment in Dubai. Non-skilled expats, usually from India, Pakistan, etc., are mostly employed in the construction industry. Many of them are contracted by recruiting agents and are based in labour camps. Usually, their passports are retained by their employers on arrival. Also, their working day could go beyond 10 hours. Other nationalities are spread in different sectors. UAE nationals, on the other hand, are mainly employed in the public sector.


Since unemployment is quite present locally, in Dubai like in the rest of the country, the UAE government set up a nationalisation program called Emiratisation. This program aims at giving priority to locals for job vacancies in the public and private sectors.

Working schedule and holidays

A typical working week in Dubai comprises 48 hours. Friday is a mandatory day off while other holidays depend on company regulations. In some service sectors, the day off could be different. There are ten days paid public holidays per year and employees are entitled to 30 days per year of service.

Even though the local labour market looks quite challenging, Dubai keeps attracting expatriates looking to become a part of its success story.

Useful links:

Ministry of Human Resource and Employment


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