For those who are looking for opportunities to build their professional career abroad, working in Dubai can be a great experience. This vibrant and ambitious city is trying to reinvent itself and set to become the world’s innovation hub in sectors such as green energy, healthcare, education, technology, etc.

Dubai has also a lot to offer in terms of free of tax salaries and amazing lifestyle.

So if you are interested, read what practical steps you need to undertake to land yourself a job in Dubai:

Working in Dubai – Where to Start

In many locations popular with expats around the world it’s quite easy to turn up and look for work – this is absolutely not the case in Dubai!

You need a visa to be legal in Dubai – the consequences for not having one are so harsh they aren’t even worth thinking about…with extradition being the least of your worries.

So, the best way to find jobs in Dubai is to apply before even travelling to the emirate.

Update your CV, contact recruiters, look at firms in your sector with a presence in the emirate and contact their HR department direct to find out who to send your CV to.

Look on Linkedin and even online at the local papers in the UAE such as and Khaleej Times to find jobs in Dubai.

Follow up any application made with phone calls to ensure your application has been received, and by the right person.

Pleas note: don’t ever pay a recruitment company to find you a job…

It’s worth doing background information on any company you apply to, to make sure your CV and covering letter are correctly targeted to the company in question.

A one size fits all CV won’t work  – and a one size covering letter will be a disaster.

You can travel to Dubai if you want to and do some on the ground research and networking on a visit visa – but be ready to fly home again and actually apply for jobs from your own home country.

Even if you were lucky enough to find a job whilst visiting Dubai, the law requires you leave the UAE and apply for your employment visa from abroad.

Recruitment Companies in Dubai

There are many national and international recruiters sourcing workers for contracts in Dubai, and if they want you they will headhunt you!  Otherwise their communication skills can be a little lacking.

I.e., if you submit your CV on spec you may have to chase and chase to get anywhere with recruitment companies.

A better approach is applying for a specifically advertised job via a recruitment company – or doing your own research into companies in your sector that are recruiting in the emirate, and then approaching them directly for work.

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and pester if you have to go via a recruitment company – if you genuinely feel you’re the right candidate for a job you need to get your CV seen.

There is a fine line between persistence and harassment however, so be careful!

Employment Visas and Sponsors

As mentioned above you have to have an employment visa to work in Dubai, you also have to be sponsored by your employer.

Contrary to popular misconception however, your employer should not hold your passport if you go and work in Dubai – this is illegal.

So, how do you get a visa and sponsorship?

First you have to have a firm job offer…then your employer should become your sponsor and sort out your employment visa.

The sponsorship approach in Dubai is effectively a means of controlling immigration.

According to JustLanded: “As your sponsor is responsible for you and ‘takes the rap’ if you misbehave or contravene any regulations (which will also involve him in loss of ‘face’ in the community), he automatically checks that you’re reliable and trustworthy, as well as ensuring that you don’t inadvertently step out of line.  For this reason, your sponsor is an important source of help and advice and a valuable ‘ally’.”

Note: it’s common for a sponsored expat who is working in Dubai to then be able to sponsor their spouse and children to join them.  Most of the time the expat who sponsors the spouse will be the male of the partnership.

It is almost unheard of for female expats to be the main employee in the household and to sponsor their husband to join them.  Exceptions in high-level professional roles do apparently exist.

Changing Jobs in Dubai

As your sponsor is your employer, and you have to be sponsored to remain in Dubai, changing jobs can be a bit stressful.

If you’re made redundant suddenly you may need to leave the emirate as your sponsored status will be revoked – be ready to leave and apply for a new job and a new sponsor from overseas.  Don’t risk remaining in the emirate without the right visa and sponsorship status.  If discovered you may be fined, you will be deported and you may never be allowed back.

If you’re unhappy in your work and want to change job, or if your contract has a fixed term and you want to continue living and working in Dubai after its conclusion, you need to find a new employer willing to take over sponsorship.

It may be easier for you to leave your job, leave the emirate, apply for a new job and return to Dubai with your new sponsor, believe it or not.  However, you may have to remain outside the emirate for 6 months before re-entering.

Otherwise be prepared for a lot of hard work on your part negotiating a change of sponsor.

In theory you can transfer to a new employer if your old employer gives you the go ahead in the form of a NOC – that’s a ‘no objection certificate.’

If you’re going to work for a competitor you’re less likely to be given a NOC of course.  However, you can try negotiating and pointing out that the alternative to a NOC at the end of your contract is that your employer has to pay for you to return to your original home country.  A NOC will be cheaper!

Ultimately try and stay on good terms with your employer, negotiate a good salary and benefits package at the very outset, spending as much time as needed to get this right, bearing in mind how hard it is to change job and even renegotiate terms once you’re living and working in Dubai.

Finally, spend time online on forums and social media finding out what it’s like living and working in Dubai from fellow expats.  You will be given the most up to date tips and tricks, and can even begin your networking from afar in this way.  Good luck!