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Relocating to the UAE for work can be an attractive adventure for a lot of young expats looking to work overseas. A few years ago, Dubai was entitled by Forbes Magazine as a “new hot spot for young workers” and it has continued to grow on that status from the time when and approximately up to 50 per cent of the population in the UAE are expats.

The living standards for those on international salaries is high, and many are attracted by the trendy lifestyle, private schools and luxury shopping options.

Here is some basic information to prepare your move to the UAE for work:

Where to go?

The UAE is composed of seven Emirates but most expatriates are going to Dubai or Abu Dhabi although Sharjah is growing as well.

Who can work in the UAE?

It is not easy or desirable to just arrive and look for work. Most expats land in the UAE on international contracts which were already closed before arriving.

How can obtain a Visa?

A tourist’ visa can be acquired on arrival in the UAE for most travellers but a work permit is mandatory to work and a residence visa to live here. For those expats who have not made preparations in advance, a provisional work visa, valid only for three months, can be applied for on arrival. Everyone requesting a residence visa will have to take a blood test – those testing positive for hepatitis or HIV will not be allowed for a visa and be deported. It is also very important to cancel the work visa before departure the country permanently. Forgetting to do so may make it impossible to return in future if desired.

The benefits of leaving in UAE

  • The nightlife is well-known – don’t think that because it is a Muslim country that alcohol and clubs are forbidden. In Dubai, especially, the variety of nightlife for expats is a major attraction.
  • A place for entrepreneurs– there are several districts in Dubai alone which promote start-ups across almost every industry.
  • The expat society is energetic – networking in Abu Dhabi and Dubai gives an uncountable ways to meet new people and making new friends is very easy. A lot of people link with expat forums and online groups before they arrive in the country.

The challenges of leaving in UAE

  • Summers are particularly hot – from June until September temperatures can reach up to 48 degrees Celsius.
  • Be cautious on social media –is important to respect the local culture. This includes avoiding negative comments about the country and its ruling families
  • Ramadan – Although Dubai may seem like a western city, the UAE has Muslim laws which need to be known and respected by expats too.
  • Drive Safe – the cars may be stylish but the driving can be terrifying.

The main differences to your home country

  • Weekends are Friday and Saturday, not Saturday and Sunday like in European countries.
  • There is no post – a lot of citizens don’t have an ‘address’. Scheduling deliveries can be difficult.
  • Rent is paid monthly quarterly or in some cases annually.
  • Most accommodation for expats are in the form of serviced apartments. Don’t expect to live in a house or in a villa.

If you are planning to relocate to the UAE for work, contact our local experts to help you out.


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