Working in Dubai

work in Dubai
Updated 2021-11-11 14:04

Home to almost 10 million expats, the UAE is a very popular relocation destination. If you are employed by a company in Dubai, you will be able to apply for a residence permit and access all the amenities of this cosmopolitan emirate.  

Working in Dubai can be a great way to further your career, gain international work experience and broaden your knowledge of other cultures. Thanks to its multicultural makeup, Dubai can be a great place for networking letting you meet professionals from across the globe.

Employment opportunities for expats in Dubai mostly lie in the service sector. This covers trade, restaurants, hotels, transportation, storage, communication, finance, insurance, real estate, business services, community, social and personal services, entertainment, etc. Sectors like construction and energy also empoy a large number of foreigners. Medical professionals, engineers and IT professionals are generally in high demand in Dubai — and the UAE in general.

Work conditions in Dubai

Expats are generally offered very generous packages when working in Dubai. In addition to salary, you will have access to a wide selection of benefits, which often include housing or a housing allowance, return tickets to fly home during the holidays, allowance for education for their children and more.

Most companies will offer you at least 30 days of annual leave in addition to public holidays. You will also have up to 90 days of sick leave — with 15 days of full pay if you provide a valid medical certificate. Note, however, that you won't be allocated any sick days during your probation period. Women are entitled to at least 45 days of maternity leave after they've worked for the company for at least a year. For a year and a half after delivery, women are also offered two additional 30-minute breaks for nursing their child.

You will also be provided with medical insurance. Some companies will also offer coverage for your dependents — but, in some cases, you will need to purchase medical insurance for your family separately.

Job hunting in Dubai

You can start your job hunt even from outside of the UAE. There are lots of online publications like Gulf News, Khaleej Times, or Emarat Al Youm (available in English) that regularly post the most recent job offers. Plus, there are a number of job hunting websites where you can find lots of work listings in Dubai in different categories. Check out Bayt, Gulf Talent, Indeed and others.

Professional social media can also be a great tool in your job hunt. As you search for career opportunities in Dubai, make sure to keep your work profile on Linkedin (or other platforms) up-to-date. Consider changing your status on Linkedin to “open to finding a new job” and your location to “Dubai” so that potential employers and head hunters can see your profile.

If you are an experienced professional in your field, you can reach out to headhunting agencies directly with your CV and an outline of the position you are looking for. Most well-known headhunting agencies have their offices in Dubai: Michael Page, Hays and others.

If you are already in Dubai, work on expanding your professional network in the emirate. To do so, make sure to attend career fairs, professional meet-ups and other related events. The

National Career Exhibition in the UAE is a great place to start. You can also look into online career fairs like Careers UAE.

Once you have found a vacancy or vacancies that you want to apply for, you can apply for the position with your CV and cover letter. There is no specific CV format that you should keep to in the UAE. As we have mentioned above, Dubai is home to a large number of expats and employers in the emirate are used to various CV and job application formats. With that, it's definitely a good idea to make your CV as clear and convincing as possible. Think about the experience, professional and personal qualities, background, etc. that can help you stand out among other applicants and make sure these are emphasized in your application.

Generally, there are two popular ways of organizing your CV: reverse chronological order (when you list your experience from your latest position to the oldest) and a skill-based format (when you centre your CV around a specific skill set rather than work experience). Alternatively, you can always use a combination of the two formats to arrange the information in your CV. Take into account the job you are applying for and your situation. If you have a lot of work experience, it would make sense to list it first. If, on the other hand, you are new on the job market, you may start with your education, certificates and qualities that would make you a good fit for the job.

Good to know:

Note that in the UAE, it is customary to include more personal information in your CV than, for instance, in the US. Most CVs will mention age, nationality and include a photo.

Together with your CV, you should also include a cover letter. A cover letter should focus on why you are interested in the job and what makes you the best candidate for it. It's best to compose a separate cover letter for each new job application so that you can make it as specific as possible to the position you are applying for.


Be aware that as an expat you won't have access to welfare programs. This means that if you plan to come to Dubai and search for work on the spot, you will need to make sure that you have enough means to support yourself throughout your job hunt.

As you are waiting for replies to your job applications, you may want to get enrolled in professional or language courses to improve your chances. There are lots of foreign language schools in Dubai — as well as centres and tutors who can help you learn Arabic. If you prefer to study online, consider platforms like Skillshare to gain new skills or improve the ones you already have. Additionally, some universities also offer online study programs with diplomas and certificates upon completion.

Work visa in the United Arab Emirates

Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) of the United Arab Emirates, sponsored by your employer. Without it, working in the UAE is illegal. With this work permit, you can enter the UAE for employment. The validity of the work permit is two months after the date of issue.

The necessary formalities such as medical testing, obtaining an Emirates ID card, a Labour Card are sponsored by the employer, and the work residency permit stamped on your passport within 60 days. The work residency permit is issued by the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) from the emirate where you will be employed.

You are not eligible to sponsor any of your family members unless your work visa is completed. If you enter Dubai on a tourist visa, you should check before how many days you are allowed to stay in Dubai, as there is a limit for some countries.

If you're outside of the United Arab Emirates, you can contact Visa Service centres in various parts of the world. These have been set up by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Their goal is to explain rules and regulations between employee and employer.


To be eligible to work in Dubai, you must be sponsored by an employer. Working on a tourist or visit visa is illegal.

Your passport should be valid for at least six months after the date of entry in the UAE if you are to apply for a work permit.

Taxes in Dubai

An important benefit of working in Dubai is that there is no income tax. So, you will be able to enjoy a tax-free salary while earning income from the UAE. However, while there is no income tax in the UAE, you may still need to pay taxes in your home country. Check if your country of citizenship has a double taxation agreement with the UAE — if it does, you won't have to pay any taxes. In most cases, in order to not pay taxes, you will need to register as a non-resident in your home country.

If your home country doesn't have double taxation treaties with the UAE, you will probably need to file taxes at home.

To learn about double taxation treaties in the UAE, check the UAE Ministry of Finance for updates.

For more information on taxes in the UAE, refer to our guide on the tax system in the United Arab Emirates.

Qualifications for working in Dubai

Occupations in the UAE are generally divided into five skill levels. Jobs in levels from one to three are white-collar jobs (in business, medicine, marketing, finance, etc.) — to qualify for these positions, you will need related degrees and certificates that prove your expertise in the field. Most companies will accept a degree from your home country — in fact, international qualifications are typically very well received in the UAE. Note that you may be asked to get your degree evaluated at the Ministry of Education.

When it comes to language, you will need a good command of English for most positions. Knowledge of Arabic will definitely give you an edge over other applicants and making an effort to learn the language will be very appreciated by your employer.

Working freelance in the UAE

In recent years especially, the international job market — including the job market in Dubai — has become more open to freelancing and remote work. With that, while you are sure to find freelance and remote work openings in Dubai, these are typically limited to specific fields — namely: content creation, design, app development, etc. You will also need to go through a number of formalities to work as a freelancer legally in Dubai.

To work freelance in Dubai, you will need to apply for a freelance license. You will need to provide the following documents:

  • A copy of your passport
  • Degrees and certificates proving your qualifications in the field you will be freelancing in
  • And a reference letter from a bank

Depending on the specifics of your case, additional documentation may be required.

Note that as a freelancer, you won't be able to hire employees or sponsor visas for your family members in order for them to come to the UAE. If your freelance income exceeds AED 375,000 per year, you will need to register for VAT.

If you decide to start a company in Dubai, you will be able to benefit from the emirate's very favourable tax system: there is no corporate tax in the UAE.

Useful links:

Dubai online job portal

General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs in Dubai

The Official Portal of the United Arab Emirates Government

UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Visas

UAE Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation

Job hunting websites


Gulf Talent



Caterer Global


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