Being convincing to an employer in the United Arab Emirates

Hello everyone,

Finding a job in the United Arab Emirates is no easy feat. From applying for a job all the way to job interviews, the etiquette can be different abroad. Specially job interviews, that can already be pretty daunting, can feel even worse when set in a whole new country. If you’ve gone through a job interview in the United Arab Emirates before, how about giving a few tips to someone who might be preparing for one?

Do interviews usually take place in a formal or casual setting in the United Arab Emirates? Do you have any pointers for job interviews that take place over a lunch or dinner?

From application all the way to the job interview, what is essential to make an candidate stand out?

Culturally speaking, are there specific do’s and don’ts? What is the general take on bringing a parent on the job interview or a gift to the interviewer?

Can you tell us a little about your experience? What worked and what did not work for you?

How important is it to have a solid professional network prior to a job interview?

Please share your experience,


I was kind of lucky in that I already knew someone who worked at the company I was applying for, he had worked there for a while and so I was a recommendation (we'd worked together for quite a few years in a previous job). That was really helpful.

I would say you must dress formally, it is a sign of respect to your potential employer even if you are meeting in a less formal setting. You want to stand out for the right reasons and not be remembered for not looking the part.

Research is/was key for me in terms of preparation, I did lots of research on the company before the interview. That meant I already knew a lot about what they did and meant I had prepared some good questions too, there is nothing worse than not having any questions at the end of an interview.

I'm not sure how useful a 'solid professional network' is, I guess that depends on the nature of the industry. For me it is more important to have relevant experience and a good track record for delivering results.

My initial interview was done over Skype, even for that I dressed well and ensured I was well prepared. Turns out that was even harder than a face-to-face meeting as you don't have that natural human interaction and any delay on the line leads to awkward moments of silence or talking over each other.

Good luck in your search and interviews!

It was a nice one

I have 6 years work experience in South Korea and I can read and speak Korean so i would like to work with Korean in UAE like Korean restaurant reception front desk I have 6 years experience  with Korean in manufacturing field

I have applied for many jobs in UAE but no luck. Employers keep on rejecting my application and I don’t know why. I’m a UK expat and I have years of experience. I think it’s my age that’s the problem as the medical insurance will be expensive.

My professional background is Executive Assistant, Project Management, Travel Agent.

I’m currently in Abu Dhabi on vacation. Can anyone give me any tips please

It is not necessarily your age.  I would venture that it is simply profession coupled with nationality & cost.  Age is a secondary consideration.

So think of it this way - why would an employer pay more for a UK national (relocation or no relocation) for a job which is non-technical, non-managerial and non-specialized; especially when, in your chosen profession, they can get candidates easily from within the UAE who are already here, have UAE experience and cost / willing to work for much less than a UK/European expat (Filipinos, Pakistanis, Indians etc).  And since the profession doesn't also (generally speaking) require a lot of experience, they would prefer younger candidates of course.  Plus the cultural fit is better for candidates who have spent time in the middle east and / or are from this part of the world (Middle east / Sub-continent) vs. someone from the western world (generalizing but adapting to the culture here is a shock for most people from that part of the world).

While this applies even in senior level roles; it is more flexible.  To illustrate, for example, I am at the Board level in the corporate world with 20 years of experience behind me all over the world (10 in the Middle East).  I would be the first preference for any company looking to recruit in similar positions in this part of the world - it is only when they can't find someone like me, they will look outside the GCC.  But they are more likely to hire people from the outside at my level because a) There are only a handful of good credible candidates at this level here in the GCC, depending on business nature and scope (people who have done board level roles in $1 bn businesses in consumer goods for example)  and b) The experience requirements, responsibility & impact of the job on the business makes it worthwhile from a cost point of view to find the best candidate irrespective of where they are in the world.  In your case, both a and b don't apply at all.

That doesn't mean it is impossible to find a job.  But it will require a lot more effort.  Besides the job sites and agencies, you will have to do a lot of personal networking and try to mine your contacts.

i am waiting for my results of uae moe teacher job interview after passing the written exam. is there chances of getting the job

Wrong thread for that question. And the question you asked; how would anyone know?


I’m currently in Abu Dhabi on vacation. I’m trying to get a job in the UAE but no luck. It’s very hard for UK expats.

I’ve tried everything and nothing is working because the salaries are very low.

Any advice or tips please?

I already responded to you above in the thread.  Scroll up and have a read.

Hi Annie,

Xtang is correct. Being a NZ citizen, I am also surprised at how low the wages are compared to living expenses, and then how willing people are to work for lower of the lowest wages in order to score some work.

I have also temporarily scored work in a FZE company which is a bit of a start up itself. However, I was also fully prepared to work in any job to start off with, in order to earn some UAE experience (front end customer services, call centres etc), the areas where most native speakers are needed (especially in Dubai with higher English speaking traffic so to speak) and perhaps ease my way into a better suited job later. I have also worked in some of Australasia's biggest companies and yet I was prepared to do this.

Unfortunately, most of western citizens (I have had many friends who have come here with high expectations) do not fit the bill for lower and middle level jobs. They are either too expensive or too picky.

My advise to you would be to look for work in Dubai as your base, for points mentioned above, unless you speak Arabic well then Abu Dhabi is a great place too. Also, for more customer services roles, try to ring the employer wherever the number is provided so that they can hear you. 

I would also suggest touring smaller towns and applying there if you can too. I am in RAK and being here has helped me because there weren't many jobs, the kind of the ones I could work at. However, at the same time, if any did come, I was preferred because of the experiences I had compared to other applicants. I was also prepared to settle on lower wages simply because smaller towns are more affordable compared to Dubai or Abu Dhabi.

All the best x


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