Before you start working in the UAE, you will have to consider various things, from business etiquette to social security, so as to avoid unpleasant surprises.


Our Guide on working in the UAE helps you make your entry in the working world of the Emirates a breeze!

Working in the UAE means first and foremost working in the very center of the Middle East’s economic hub. Harbors and free trade zones attract tourists and international companies alike. Everyday life in the UAE is also defined by religion and tradition; Islam plays a major role in all aspects of life, including business etiquette.


Most expats working in the UAE are sent on assignment by an international company. Dubai in particular has become the off-shore location of many foreign companies and thus the home of quite a few expatriates. Work is mostly available to specialized professionals in finance or the petroleum industry.


The Economy of the UAE

The UAE has a long merchant history, and the Emiratis take pride in their tradition of trading and showing hospitality to foreigners. Expats working in the UAE will discover a great sense of ritual, which involves breaks for coffee and tea, smoking and dinner invitations.


Expats may also have to get used to a slower pace. Extensions and postponements are often a normal part of work. This is especially the case during Ramadan, when pious Muslims do not drink, eat or smoke between sunrise and sunset. Hence, working in the UAE can require some patience.


Laws and regulations determine the basic aspects of the relationship between employer and employee in the UAE. Expats can refer to them if they are unsure about working hours and conditions, termination of the work contract, and the obligations of their employer. According to European standards, labor law is incomplete in the UAE. As many details as possible should therefore be negotiated and specified in the work contract.


Most expatriates moving to the UAE are headed for Dubai, enjoying the international atmosphere, as well as the advantages of its free trade zones. As the business center of the Persian Gulf, Dubai offers all sorts of luxuries and pleasantries.


Self-employed expats will soon find that outside of Dubai, it is harder for foreign companies to gain ground. There, at least 51% of local ownership is required for all businesses. Despite this attempt to place Emiratis in leadership positions, expats moving to the UAE still enjoy the benefits of a modern country with a strong economy.


Visa Requirements for the UAE

Expats working in the UAE may encounter a very different form of business etiquette. Meeting, greeting, and appropriate attire may not be rocket science in their home country, but they can turn into huge pitfalls for some expatriates.


You need to know the correct form of conduct. As hierarchy and respect are of utmost importance, it is essential for expats working in the UAE to correctly spell and pronounce names and titles of their business partners. Abbreviations are considered rude and should be avoided.


Working in the UAE also means being able to control one’s temper. During long meetings or when faced with nerve-wrecking postponements, it is important to stand one’s ground without losing self-control. Direct criticism or refusal should be avoided. Differing opinions are often merely implied, and it is common practice to hide disagreement behind evasive statements.