Dubai is a fantastic place for expats to live and work. Not only is it an exciting city where fascinating ancient history cozies up to futuristic modern marvels, but it is also quite welcoming to global visitors. The workforce in Dubai is already strongly multi-cultural, and most business is conducted in English, so the path has been laid. You just need to follow it.
However, there are some things to know before you get started. It’s important to respect the local culture both professionally and personally. You’ll also need to understand the visa requirements and how your skills fit in with areas of need in Dubai.
Following are the steps to take in searching for your dream job in Dubai.
Review Professional Requirements
One of the nice things about job searching in Dubai is that you may be able to snag a low-skilled job right away to keep you afloat until you land your dream position. But for that, you will need education and relevant professional skills. Before you begin your formal job search, evaluate whether the skills and experience you have match up with any areas of particular need in Dubai.
Right now, jobs are plentiful in engineering, finance, telecom, construction, and marketing. Hospitality and tourism are also a huge part of the economy and positions are available that require varying levels of expertise. If you can demonstrate a strong background to support any of these industries, your odds of landing a job go up. If not, consider taking some continuing education courses, either at home or in Dubai, that can fill in the gaps.
Choose a Visa
There are several types of visa that can be used to work in Dubai. Most expats do their job searches from home and arrive in Dubai with an offer in hand. That makes life a lot easier for the employee, as the UAE-based company that hires them will do most of the work in securing a work visa. In many cases, the company will sponsor visas for the employee’s close family members as well.
Another type of work visa is the mission visa, which provides for a 90-period of work within the UAE. This can be ideal for people who hope to accomplish one particular objective while there or who want to tentatively explore the idea of a permanent move. Mission visas are also typically sponsored by the Dubai-based employer.
If you have had little luck job searching from home, it is possible to travel to Dubai on a visitor’s visa and transition to a work visa while there. This is relatively unusual in the global business world, and one of the factors that makes Dubai so great for expats. Being there in person also opens up new avenues for your job search, as walk-in interviews are pretty common.
Job Search Strategies
No matter where you start your search, it’s important to target companies that are willing to sponsor work visas. You may also find that employers will specify their preferred gender and nationality for advertised positions. In many countries it’s not permitted to limit job applicants to only Indians, or only females, but in the UAE it is customary.
When preparing your application materials, know that the standard document for job seekers in Dubai is a CV (Curriculum Vitae) rather than the shorter resume format favored in the United States. Aim for a CV that is about two pages for a mid-level job and three for an executive position.
Your online search may also lead you to listings for walk-in interviews. If you are already in Dubai, you can be more responsive to those opportunities. This is beneficial because it is much easier to form the kind of connection that will get you hired in a face-to-face setting. Most of the employers that conduct walk-in interviews are hiring mid-level positions in sales, customer service, and finance.
Professional recruitment companies
In the midst of a tricky transnational job search, it can help to have someone in your corner. Many expat job seekers engage a professional recruitment company to assist them. These businesses review your qualifications, make suggestions for improvement, and match your skills with companies that are hiring.
Hiring help gets you on the inside track, and saves a ton of time in reading job posts and narrowing down those that are relevant to you. Popular recruitment companies in the UAE include MichaelPage, BAC Middle East, and Charterhouse.
It is inevitable that you will experience a certain amount of culture shock when you move to Dubai, no matter where you call home. It is a unique country that, while welcoming, also has fairly strict expectations of its residents.
Do thorough cultural research before arrival to spare yourself any number of social and professional gaffes, making it that much easier to settle in to your new home.
The good news for native English-speakers is that English is used very frequently in business in Dubai. You might be able to get away with speaking it exclusively, but it is still highly recommended that you learn Arabic as well. That is the official language in Dubai, and you’ll find that many jobs require applicants to be bilingual. Not only that, but knowing Arabic is a sign of respect to your host country.
Customs & Clothing
In business settings, formal dress is expected. In urban areas, this means a business suit that covers the arms and legs. This is true for both men and women. In smaller communities, you might wear a traditional garment such as the loose-fitting white kandora for men or black agara for women. Still, start with the suit for interview purposes and feel out your employer’s preference from there.
Though handshakes in general may be a thing of the past, know that handshakes when given are traditionally very light in Dubai. Rather than a firm squeeze, aim for a gentle palm touch. Avoid initiating a handshake with a woman, but accept if she offers her hand.
And finally, be prepared for a different set of working hours that take into account the region’s high heat and religious customs. The workweek runs from Saturday to Wednesday, with morning hours from 8 am to 1 pm. At that point, workers typically rest until 5 pm and then work again until 7. This schedule changes during Ramadan, when the workdays are shortened by two hours.
Dubai has a rich multicultural workforce and therefore boasts excellent programs to support the hiring of foreign workers. With the proper research and preparation, finding a good job there is definitely an attainable goal. Don’t hesitate to start looking – Dubai will host a World Expo in 2021 that is set to boost hiring needs over the next decade.