Rich cultural heritage meets an ultra-modern outlook in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where an incredible 85% of the workforce comes from abroad...

Many international jobseekers are attracted by the country's tax-free salaries and, since English is the language of business, you'll have no trouble fitting in. What's more, the UAE's relentless growth over recent years has made working there look very impressive on any CV.

Opportunities exist all over this culturally-diverse country, but most jobs in the UAE will be found in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. So, if you're looking to boost your career prospects while enjoying red-hot weather, beautiful sandy beaches and a world-class standard of living, the UAE could be just for you.

Job market

Major industries in the UAE include:

  • aerospace;
  • aluminium and steel;
  • boat building and ship repair;
  • construction;
  • financial services;
  • fishing;
  • handicrafts and textiles;
  • natural gas, petroleum and petrochemicals;
  • pharmaceuticals.

Some of the best major companies to work for in the UAE are:

  • DHL;
  • EMC;
  • Ericsson;
  • FedEx Express;
  • Marriott;
  • Microsoft Gulf;
  • Omnicom Media Group MENA;
  • THE One;
  • Weber Shandwick.

The UAE's biggest growth industries include:

  • advertising, market research, public relations (PR), media and entertainment;
  • education;
  • engineering, construction and real estate;
  • healthcare;
  • hospitality and tourism;
  • oil and gas;
  • retail, trade and logistics;
  • production, manufacturing, automotive and ancillary.

Many graduate jobs in the UAE, especially those in the thriving energy sector, require science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) specialists. Accountancy and banking graduates, meanwhile, will find many openings in the property and finance industries. The UAE job market is suffering from a shortage of talent in healthcare, PR and publishing.

Job vacancies

You can find work in the UAE by taking a look at these websites:

Teaching in the UAE

Although teaching opportunities are fairly uncommon in the UAE compared to many other countries, openings still do exist. You can search for vacancies and find out more information at:

Internships and work experience in the UAE

Short-term work experience opportunities are limited, as companies are usually forced to sponsor employees for a minimum of 12 months. However, some internship and summer work placements may be found at:

Many universities, such as Heriot-Watt, have links to the UAE. Meanwhile, you may be eligible for university exchange programmes if you're still in education. Check with your institution's international office.

Volunteering in the UAE

Volunteering opportunities in the UAE are generally limited, but are more common in places such as Abu Dhabi and Dubai. However, this is often due to a shortage of willing participants, so getting involved in voluntary work could be an invaluable experience. You can find openings at organisations such as the Red Crescent Society of UAE and Operation Smile UAE. Otherwise, search for opportunities at:

Language requirements

English is widely spoken by locals and is also the language of business. However, understanding Arabic will greatly improve your job prospects. Some popular places to learn Arabic include the Arabic Language Centre, Eton Institute, Golden Age Institute, Quba Training Centre JLT and The Mother Tongue Arabic Language Centre.

UAE visas and immigration

Before you begin working in the UAE, you'll need two documents: a residence permit and a work visa. Your three-year residence permit will be issued once you've secured a job. Your employer can then sponsor you for a work visa, which can be stamped into your passport on arrival. This is, however, dependent on you passing a medical test for HIV and hepatitis, and obtaining a health card. The work permit will usually cost AED 250 (£45).

You'll require a family residence visa if you're bringing your spouse or any dependants with you. This can only be obtained if you earn a monthly salary of over AED 4,000 (£720).

Visas for visiting the UAE will be issued on arrival to all UK nationals. This allows you to stay in the country for 30 days. The emirate you arrived in can then extend your visa three days before its expiry date. However, you must leave the country at the end of this period.

Find out more about visas at Foreign Travel Advice - United Arab Emirates.

How to explain your UK qualifications to employers

Employers usually understand UK qualifications as the UAE education system has many similarities, but ensure that this is the case before application.

You, or your employer, can find out more at ENIC-NARIC.

Working conditions

As in the UK, full-time employees typically work five eight-hour shifts every week. However, unlike the UK, the working week runs from Sunday to Thursday. Friday and Saturday are rest days. You'll pay no income tax on your earnings.

Most employees are entitled to two days of annual leave per month. National holiday dates change every year, according to the sighting of the moon. There are ten national holidays, but the exact number of days given depends on whether the Islamic festival of Eid falls during the working week or the weekend.

Find out more