Jobs Abroad in the United Arab Emirates

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A Guide to Working Abroad in the United Arab Emirates

A visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) offers a unique cultural experience, but more importantly, those looking to work abroad will find this nation holds seemingly ceaseless job opportunities. In fact, the majority of the country’s workforce is composed of expats and the UAE built a great reputation as one of the top destinations to work abroad, especially for professional skill development. The UAE has become one of the world’s largest and most stable business centers, making it an even more attractive place to work abroad, not to mention the tax-free salaries!


As the most cosmopolitan country in the Middle East, the UAE receives lots of temporary tourists and businessmen, as well as permanent expatriates each year. Most foreigners flock to the nation’s two largest and most developed cities: Abu Dhabi and Dubai. However, there are also many jobs available in Sharjah.

Abu Dhabi. Most aspiring expats choose to work in Abu Dhabi, since it is the federal capital of and largest emirate of the UAE. Abu Dhabi is home to world-class sporting events, such as the Abu Dhabi Golf Championships and the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, making it a fairly well known destination worldwide. With a high influx of tourists and a desire among locals to diversify their skills, there are many opportunities to work in education and hotel management in Abu Dhabi. Like most jobs in the United Arab Emirates, jobs in Abu Dhabi offer high salaries and well organized companies.

Dubai. Expats will undoubtedly relish in Dubai’s numerous world-class hotels, innovative architecture, and endless forms of entertainment. Beyond these surface level opportunities, Dubai is home to many jobs, ranging from banking and finance to construction to information technology. However, jobs in Dubai tend to be very limited in terms of flexibility, because of employment contract requirements and residency sponsorship regulations that employers must abide by. Despite these unavoidable hoops, Dubai maintains a significant number of expat workers and draws in many individuals looking for jobs in the United Arab Emirates.

Sharjah. If there is a place that is the complete opposite of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the emirate of Sharjah is it. In Sharjah there are no pubs, bars, and nightclubs; hence, it is a much quieter place to work in the United Arab Emirates, making it more suitable for families looking to permanently settle abroad. Sharjah generally provides a wonderful community for raising children. The most common jobs in Sharjah for expats tend to be in either teaching or counseling.

Jobs in the United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates has a wide array of job opportunities across the nation’s major industries, such as petrochemicals or construction, as well as the up and coming industries that are gaining in popularity among expats, including education, healthcare, tourism, and logistics. However, there is no doubt, teaching and education positions are the most common type of job in the UAE. 

Teaching English. The English language has become the language of business in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. As the nation’s business centers, both cities have a high number of English teaching jobs, as businessmen have an increased desire to improve their language skills. Aspiring English teachers with a TEFL/TESOL certification will have an advantage when searching for jobs in the UAE. Salary packages for English teaching jobs in the United Arab Emirates typically range from $2000 to $4000 a month, depending on experience. 

Education. English isn’t the only subject that is in demand in the UAE, other education related jobs are also available, such as those in counseling and institutional administration. Those who decide to teach in the UAE will have access to lucrative salaries, competitive compensation packages, and the chance to travel to other countries in some positions. Education jobs in the UAE are most commonly found in private schools and other types of academic institutions that specifically recruit foreign teachers. 

Hospitality. Since the UAE is filled with a number of luxurious hotels, resorts, and restaurants, hospitality and management jobs are also widely available. Applicants that are versatile and well verses in the English language will be at a great advantage in these types of positions. Like most jobs in the United Arab Emirates, those who work in the hospitality industry are paid well, and foreign workers are often even provided with onsite accommodation.

Salary & Affordability

The standard of living in the UAE is comparable to that of the UK. The cost of rent, food, and transportation can vary greatly depending on your spending habits, but overall the UAE is quite expensive. However, on a very positive note, salaries in the UAE are relatively higher than in many European countries, and most importantly, salaries are tax-free! Also, most jobs in the United Arab Emirates provide employees with additional benefits outside of monthly salaries, such as accommodation or a housing allowance and health care insurance. 

The average salary in the UAE depends on the type of job. For teaching and education jobs, the average salary is around $4500 a month, for sales and retail $4000 per month is common, for information technology salaries are as much as $5000 per month, and for tourism and hospitality, $4000 per month.

The average cost of renting an apartment in the UAE is between $1700 and $3600 per month. Meanwhile, the average cost of utilities, such as electricity, water, and internet, are around $250. Additional expenses, such as groceries, span a large range depending on your lifestyle, but $50 to $100 a month minimum should be expected. For those who like to eat out, going to a restaurant can cost $20 to $50 per person. Lastly, for transportation, it is quite easy to spend up to $60 a month getting to and from work everyday.

Accommodation & Visas

Most individuals apply for jobs in the United Arab Emirates while they are still in their home country. Generally, it is best for individuals to follow this route and secure employment before arrival in the UAE. Chances of success in on-the-spot applications and interviews are very low, unless the applicant has a good network of local contacts or an extremely exemplary resume.

Although the United Arab Emirates is not particularly stringent when it comes to the acquisition of working permits and visas, there are set requirements that should be met. Requirements for a work permit include an employment contract and medical examination, among other documents. Additional permits are often required as well, such as a residence visa, labor card, and health card. Once issued, working permits are valid for up to three years. Beyond three years, the permit has to be renewed. Overall, the United Arab Emirates is tagged as being a very accommodating country for international workers and almost all nationalities are eligible to enter the UAE.

In order to permanently settle in the UAE, expats must meet a longer list of additional requirements, including a sponsorship package from a local employer and a comprehensive employment contract.

In most cases, international workers are provided with accommodation or at the very least housing assistance along with their job placement in the UAE. Considering the high cost of real estate in the UAE, renting or requesting that housing be provided are the best options for expats.

Benefits & Challenges

The United Arab Emirates is an incredible place to work abroad thanks to high-paying jobs, tax-free salaries, and many expatriate-friendly policies. Also, since the country abides by very strategic urban planning policies and standards, the cities are naturally more liveable.

However, there are still challenges that nearly every expatriate will face while working in the UAE. The high-grade living standard in the UAE is remunerated by high cost commodities. The language barrier can also prove to be somewhat challenging for expats, as it can often make it difficult to communicate with locals during daily transactions. Also, since the UAE is a primarily Muslim community, foods that contain pork are typically not available or served. 

Ultimately, the UAE is a great place to work abroad because of its unique cultural environment and the large number of profitable job opportunities.

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