Career in the UAE: Job Search for Foreign Specialists

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Labor Market in the UAE - the second largest in the Gulf countries, mainly consists of foreigners. Building a career in the UAE is possible, but the growth will be slower than in Russia. The reason is that for the first few years, one will have to work on reputation, plus face stiff competition. However, often, with additional education, one can expect career advancement. Despite the challenges, it is worth it for gaining valuable experience and improving one's standard of living.

How many foreigners live in the UAE?

The UAE continues to lead the ranking of countries with the largest number of foreigners relative to the total population, with almost all of them being labor migrants rather than refugees. In 2023, more than 9 million people born in another country live and work in the United Arab Emirates, which is 88.5% of the population.

More than 60% of the foreign population of the UAE are immigrants from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Nepal, who migrated as temporary workers. Arrivals from South Asia and North Africa typically work in the service sector and construction, those from Eastern and Central Europe work in offices, while specialists from the USA and Western Europe hold managerial positions.

The social status of Western Europeans and Americans in the UAE is slightly below that of locals. At the lower levels of the social ladder are Indians and Pakistanis engaged in transportation and construction, as well as Filipinos predominantly working in cleaning and the service sector. In some industries, foreigners make up over 90% of the workforce, mostly comprising unskilled workers.

Opportunities for Foreigners

Foreigners with high qualifications can find employment in the UAE. It's enough to submit a resume and pass an interview for the desired position. If the candidate is suitable, the employer takes care of the document processing and financial expenses for obtaining a visa.

Another common way to move to the UAE for economic reasons is to open your own business or relocate an existing company there along with employees, i.e., relocation.


It is difficult for businesses registered in Russia to enter the international market. Therefore, today, many companies leave their legal address in Russia and, perhaps, a small representation, and move most of their employees to the UAE. This process is called relocation.

Advantages of relocating to the UAE:

  • Economic stability;
  • Simplicity and transparency of requirements;
  • Convenient geographical location;
  • Free access to the international market;
  • Favorable attitude towards foreign businesses.

There is another option - changing the legal and actual address to a foreign one, i.e., redomiciliation. Essentially, this is the same as changing citizenship, but for a legal entity, not a physical person. The company moves, retaining its organizational and legal form, structure of assets, obligations, etc.

From a legal point of view, redomiciliation involves submitting documents to change registration. If the application is approved, the business becomes foreign, i.e., it must comply with the legislation of another country (in this case, the UAE) and pay taxes. Formally, in Russia, the company will be liquidated, and its successor will be a new company abroad.

If the company is already registered in an unfriendly jurisdiction (for example, in Europe), but you supply products to Russia or receive payments from there, redomiciliation to a more friendly country is justified. If the business is registered in Russia and you do not plan to sever ties with the Russian Federation, it is easier to open a branch of an existing company or a new legal entity in the UAE.

Business Setup

Starting a company in the UAE from scratch is an option for experienced entrepreneurs. To develop a successful strategy, it is necessary to carefully test the business hypothesis, conduct research, market analysis, and identify the real needs of the target audience. It is also important to consider that a business entering a potentially huge and competitive market requires initial investments and efforts for promotion.

Experienced specialists at The Level Consulting will help you open a business in the UAE. We provide full support: company document processing, visa issuance, account opening, legal support, and if necessary, we will find an office space for you. Contact us, and we will answer all your questions.

Job Search

It is easiest to build a career in the UAE for qualified specialists, such as programmers, doctors, engineers, architects, analysts, accountants, experienced sales managers, English teachers, builders, etc.

Even without experience and education, it is possible to find a job, but the salary will be significantly lower. The most vacancies with low requirements are available to foreigners in the service sector: hostess, waiter, hotel receptionist, assistant manager, bellboy, driver, realtor.

Features of Labor Legislation

The employer covers the expenses for visa processing and obtaining a health insurance policy for foreign employees. The probationary period for employment is six months. If a person is not suitable for any reason, they are dismissed with a two-week notice.

After the probationary period, a contract is signed for two years. The contract can be renewed under the same or different conditions an unlimited number of times. Each party has the right to terminate the contract by giving one month's notice. Upon termination, the employee receives compensation - one month's salary for each year worked.

All employees are entitled to take paid leave once a year (30 days). The employer is not allowed to deny an employee their annual leave.

There are no trade unions in the UAE, but the Wage Protection System operates to ensure the safety of foreign workers' wages. If conflicts arise at work, they are resolved through the Ministry of Human Resources and the Foreign Affairs Department. In case of disagreement with the decision, the dispute can be taken to court.

Taxes for Individuals and Businesses

There is no personal income tax (PIT) or payroll tax in the UAE. Companies registered in the UAE do not pay taxes except for Value Added Tax (VAT) (5%), corporate tax (9%), and excise tax (50% or 100%). The corporate tax was introduced in 2023 and applies to companies with a net income exceeding 375,000 dirhams per year.

Labor Reform 2022-2023

In 2022-2023, the UAE underwent the most extensive labor law reform in decades. The main changes include:

  • Reduction of working hours. Previously, the workweek was 48 hours, now it is 40 hours. The workweek duration is 5 days (Friday is a half-day, Saturday and Sunday are off). The changes apply only to government agencies, but many commercial companies also adhere to this system.
  • Mandatory termination insurance. A special social security program has been developed in which all employees must register. If the salary is up to 16,000 dirhams per month, 60 dirhams are deducted from the salary, and if it exceeds 16,000 dirhams, 120 dirhams are deducted. The maximum payout amount upon termination is 10,000 and 20,000 dirhams, respectively.
  • Abolition of indefinite contracts. The employment contract now lasts a maximum of two years.
  • Extension of the stay period. If an employer unilaterally terminates the employment contract with a foreigner, they can search for a job in the UAE for six calendar months (previously - one month).

Who Can Find a Job in the UAE

Mainly, foreigners aged 18 to 30 are sought for work in the UAE. For qualified specialists, the age limit is higher - 35+ for men, 30+ for women. In rare cases, companies hire people aged 45-55 - they must be true professionals in their field. Resumes of people over 50-55 are usually not considered.

The higher the qualification and the more experience in the UAE, the easier it is to find a high-paying job. Knowledge of Arabic is not required in most cases; good English is sufficient. The better the level of English, the more vacancies are available. Russian-speaking vacancies are available in branches of Russian companies in the UAE - mostly these are simple office jobs with a low salary.

A foreigner applying for a job in the UAE must be healthy (this applies not only to those who will do physical work) and psychologically stable, with no legal issues. It is also desirable to have no harmful habits.

For jobs in the service sector, a pleasant appearance is important, so many vacancies specify that a photo must be included in the resume. All other things being equal, preference will be given to the more attractive candidate.

Good health is necessary due to the climate. It is considered that the comfortable average annual air temperature in the country is 27°C. While Russians (especially those from the central and northern parts of Russia) find it very comfortable in winter, in summer, when the temperature rises to +50°C and humidity to 90%, it becomes difficult to be outside. For people who have difficulty tolerating heat, such a climate can be a serious problem.

Requirements for Foreigners

Foreigners planning to live and work in the UAE must familiarize themselves with the local culture and laws. A tourist trip to Dubai or Abu Dhabi is sufficient for this.

Working on a tourist or visitor visa is prohibited, but you can seek employment while in the UAE on a tourist visa. To work, you will need to obtain a work visa. Working on a tourist visa is not allowed - it will be considered a violation and may result in penalty sanctions. Both the employer and the employee will be held accountable by the law.

Confirmation of Diploma and Experience

Highly qualified specialists must verify their diploma. For certain professions, it is necessary to confirm both theoretical and practical experience and education (pass an exam). For example, doctors undergo specialization exams twice a year.

Legalization of a higher education diploma takes two to three weeks. You need to translate the diploma, appendix, and archival certificate from the university into Arabic and obtain a notarized certification, then confirm the notary's authority with the Ministry of Justice and certify the stamp at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Health Assessment

For employment, a medical certificate of health status is required. Requirements vary for different professions. In general, the candidate should not have potentially dangerous diseases to others, including active tuberculosis and syphilis, HIV, hepatitis, and leprosy. If a foreigner is found to have a disease, they will be deported, and their work visa will be canceled.

Methods of Job Search in the UAE

You can search for jobs in the UAE in various ways. Candidates in Russia use social networks and job vacancy websites. Locally, job search can be done through personal connections. However, the most effective way is to contact an HR agency specializing in hiring foreigners to work in the UAE.

Personal Connections

Networking is well-developed in the UAE, so personal connections can quickly help find a job. The main rule for a candidate is to be proactive. A significant advantage that ensures successful search for a high-paying job will be a good knowledge of the English language.


Most professionals already working in the UAE consider LinkedIn to be one of the best sites for job searching. You need to set the correct geolocation, provide up-to-date contact information (WhatsApp is often used for communication with candidates), and fill out the profile in detail. To quickly find job vacancies, subscribe to the profiles of the companies you are interested in. To increase your chances, consider positions one level below your current one.

Recruitment Agency

The simplest way to find a job in Dubai for Russians is to contact an agency. The services of a recruitment agency are paid. The price range is very wide, but in some cases, the expenses are compensated by the employer.

Telegram Channels with Vacancies

In Telegram chats and VK publics, you can find vacancies for developers or top managers, as well as for drivers, laborers, and waiters. Choose channels with a large number of subscribers and at least minimal moderation. Generally, you need to be very careful when searching for a job through social networks. There may be announcements from scammers in chats who, in the best case, will not pay the promised amount.

Job Vacancy Websites

Occasionally, vacancies in the UAE appear on HeadHunter - you can find them in the search by setting a location filter. Analogues of HH for the Middle East region include:

  • Gulftalent;
  • Dubizzle;
  • Jobsindubai;
  • Naukrigulf;
  • Dubai Careers.

You can search for jobs directly on the websites of large companies. Employers usually collect candidate profiles to make an offer when a vacancy arises. Such profiles can be quite extensive, but to increase your chances, fill them out in detail and provide only real data.

Stages of Employment Process in the UAE

The job search process slightly differs from a similar process in Russia but has its own peculiarities. For instance, all candidates typically go through not just one but several interviews: initially with the HR manager and then with the immediate supervisor.

The interview is conducted in English. It can take place via Skype, Zoom. Employers usually prefer the interview to happen offline in the office.

The interview during employment in the UAE fundamentally does not differ from any other. Candidates are assessed based on their actual skills and competencies, which are evaluated during in-person meetings or online communication.

Once a candidate is approved, the employer's legal team prepares the job offer (offer letter). If the candidate is in Russia, the documents are sent via email for review. If the candidate accepts the terms of the job offer, a contract is signed. Contract signing can be done remotely, but to obtain a work visa, one must be in the UAE, undergo a medical test, and provide fingerprints.

After agreeing on the terms of employment, the employer begins to prepare the document package for the employee. The candidate is required to translate and certify their diploma and provide scanned copies of documents. A medical certificate is usually obtainable upon arrival.

Once the entry permit is obtained, preparations for departure can begin. Some employers purchase tickets for a pre-agreed date, while others only organize a meeting at the airport and transfer to the place of residence in the UAE. In most cases, the candidate arranges their own transportation to the workplace.

In-Demand Specializations

The majority of local residents serve in government structures. Immigrants from poorer countries in the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, and North Africa work in low-paying positions, while Russians have access to office jobs and private businesses. Relocated Russians often find opportunities in tourism, construction, IT, real estate, logistics, education, hospitality, and the restaurant business, as well as in the service sector.

Trade and Logistics

The UAE is a major logistics center with developed infrastructure and a hub for international trade. Therefore, in Dubai, in-demand professions include specialists in logistics, supply chain management, customs brokers, and administrative assistants. Not only office workers are needed but also drivers, warehouse clerks, packing operators, and pickers for warehouse operations.

Education and Healthcare

The education system in the UAE comprises elements from various educational systems around the world. Only 10–15% of schools are public, attended by UAE citizens' children. Private schools and universities operating on the British or American system are available for others. There are also Russian-speaking schools with Russian-speaking teachers. Qualified teachers of English, mathematics, chemistry, physics, biology, and other subjects are in demand.

There are also sufficient vacancies in the healthcare sector in the UAE. Nurses, dentists, surgeons, cosmetologists, dermatologists, and other specialized doctors are in demand. Preference is given to specialists with additional qualifications and experience.

Real Estate and Construction

Construction is one of the most sought-after industries for specialists. In the UAE, new residential complexes, luxury real estate, hotels, medical and business centers, and educational institutions are being built. Therefore, qualified engineers, architects, electricians, plumbers, assemblers, etc., are in demand.

In the real estate sector, Russians work as financial and legal consultants, real estate agents, and analysts. Dubai has a very competitive environment, but relatively few people truly understand what they are trying to sell and can provide excellent service. To succeed, discipline, perseverance, a high level of responsibility, and knowledge of English are needed.

Information Technology

The UAE is a relatively young country, and its IT infrastructure continues to develop actively. The situation is gradually improving, but not all government services can be obtained online.

The UAE actively develops the IT sector and attracts international companies. Russian startups can use Dubai and Abu Dhabi to launch revolutionary projects, while existing companies can expand their client base. Developers, graphic designers, UI/UX specialists, IT architects, project and product managers, and QA engineers can relatively easily find high-paying jobs.

Hospitality Business

Getting a job in a world-renowned hotel is possible without knowing the language, having a relevant education, or experience—this opens up opportunities for young people. Minimum requirements are set for waiters and hostesses. Some hotels are so in need of Russian-speaking staff that they select people even for reception or guest relations based on their appearance and communication skills, and then train them on-site.

Starting from entry-level positions in the hospitality business in the UAE is a good opportunity to build a career. Professional prospects depend on education, experience, and personal qualities, but on average, the demand for qualified personnel is quite high. The final point of a career in the hospitality sector is the position of hotel manager. This position can be reached in various ways, including from outside, if there is experience in managing other businesses.

Food Industry and Catering

The government pays special attention to turning the UAE into a major food center. Experts expect that within the next 5 years, the food industry sector will be able to offer 20,000 new jobs. There will be many employment opportunities. Engineers-technologists, production area masters, operators, packers are in demand. In the near future, there will be an increased demand for people developing new agricultural systems, agricultural engineers, and experts in food technology.

Salaries in the UAE

Salary depends on the scale of work and the corporate culture of the company offering the position, as well as the candidate's experience and education. According to World Salaries, the minimum salary in the UAE is 4,200 dirhams per month, and the maximum is almost 90,000 dirhams.

The average salary in Dubai is 257,700 dirhams per year, or 21,400 dirhams per month (5,800 US dollars). These figures do not take into account possible advantages of one position over another (payment of medical insurance, rent, compensation for food costs, etc.), as well as material bonuses based on company performance, KPI, etc.

Foreigners in Dubai can find work even without knowing English and without experience, although it will be low-paid labor. Competition is high for mid-level and senior positions, so it is worth preparing thoroughly for relocation. But you can be sure: if you manage to settle in the UAE, you can confidently look for a job in any other country where the main language of communication is English.

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