UAE or the United Arab Emirates is a hub for many job seekers from different places around the world. It is lucrative for many for its huge opportunities, modern and advanced lifestyle, and the rapidly growing economy. And a tax-free earning, working surroundings, and living environment are suitable.
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Working in UAE can be a life and career opportunity to anyone. However, it still imperative to keep in mind that UAE is still an Arab country and the culture is completely different. So, you may need to accustom yourself gently to its culture and know precisely what you are walking into and what will you need to anticipate from the place. These are some noteworthy things you need to know before deciding to work and move in UAE.
What You Need to Know Before Working in the UAE (or any Gulf Country)
This comprehensive list below will guide you in getting a better understanding about policies, rules and traditions in this Islamic country. Whether in the UAE, or the rest of the countries in the Middle East. Please be informed to avoid using ignorance as an excuse for breaking laws (which is really not an excuse in the first place).
1. Getting A Job
Finding a job in UAE is not as easy as what you think it is, but it is not impossible to get a job either. That is why it is essential that you learn how it works in the Emirates.
- Companies spend an extensive amount of money in the employment process
Based on UAE Law, once you already have an employer, they will be the one who will pay for your visa and flight costs, medical insurance and housing benefits. Again, not you – it must be your employer.
- Visa and Passport
Of course, you must bring your Passport and Visa with you. You are required to have a working visa with a minimum of 3 months to enter and work in UAE, your employer will process your visa and working permit, you just have to give the required documents.
Although a tourist visa is a good way to enter the Emirates for your job hunt, let me tell you, it is kinda critical though. It is either you will get a working visa or leave the country before your tourist visa expires. The reason for that, if you got caught working without working visa or if it’s expired you can be deported, jailed or pays the fine for overstaying.
However, once you found a job, you will worry no more about the processing of your working visa because your employer will take care of everything, the complete visa process, and your sponsorship.
- Know Labor Laws
When you already have your work contract, you need to make sure you get the entire gratuity you should get in your field of work.
- Working Hours
The maximum working hours is eight hours per day, 48 hours per week. And the maximum hours for those who work in hotels, restaurant and other certain industries is nine hours. Working overtime shall be paid rate at 1.25 times the regular hourly rate. And during Ramadan, working hours will be reduced by 2 hours.
Working week for both private and public sectors operates from Sunday to Thursday. Though some of the companies operate 6 days a week having only Friday rest. Know that Friday is an official rest day.
For the annual leave, it is usually 22 working days or 30 calendar days.
2. Tax-free lifestyle Minimal VAT Tax, But Salary is Still Tax-Free
Minimal tax, so far. An update, Dubai and the UAE is no longer tax-free. A Value Added Tax (VAT) of 5% was introduced to commodities, services and merchandise. However, you can still earn your keep without worry because salary is still tax-free.
One of the reasons that allure people to UAE. is because of TAX-FREE lifestyle. Yes! You read it right. TAX-FREE. Which means you don’t need to pay for tax on your salary, groceries and etc. This lifestyle can help you to save a lot of money for long-term in nature. Though you may find some hotels that add 10-15% on your bill for the service charge.
3. Living In A Flat
In UAE, houses are very rare because properties are very expensive and most people choose to live in a flat. Aside from its cheaper, it is also well developed with spacious living areas which means you can have 2 – 3 people to live with you and share with the rent. In some cases, workers tend to share accommodation and apartments can get crowded. If you have your own accommodation (flat) in the UAE, you are quite lucky.
4. The Weekends Are Different
If you enjoy parties every Saturday and Sunday, well it is time to make changes! In UAE weekend days held on Friday and Saturday. Which means you can enjoy having a nice sip of drink at the beach and you can assure that Saturday nights will never be blue.
5. Study Some Arabic Words and Phrases
Most people that you will meet in UAE will be from different parts of the world. English is widely spoken though as you work in UAE, learning few Arabic words are always going to be handy and useful. After all, it’s good to always immerse yourself in the language of the country where you are currently residing.
6. Religion And Culture
Emirati people are patriotic. They are proud of their culture and lifestyle, which is prominent.
So, take a chance to learn and understand their culture. As you work in UAE don’t forget to take part with their culture, with their occasions, there are a lot of celebrations happening in there so enjoy!
Though UAE is a predominantly Muslim country, still all religion and beliefs are welcome!
- You can practice religion
Yes! Regardless of your religious beliefs and your faith they will respect it the same way you respect their values and beliefs. They have religious freedom when it comes to expatriate population. Also, they don’t have just mosques, they also have churches and other temples. Christmas trees are abound even in malls and public places during December as this is also celebrated by many expat nationalities.
An aversion towards religion and culture is maybe one of the biggest misconception in the Middle East. Take note that even if you are able to practice your religion, please make sure that you do not proselytize (influence to convert) others to you own belief. There is a certain level of tolerance in terms of practicing your beliefs but it is only to a certain extent.
- Islamic Values Shall Be Respected
Know that the Muslims pray five times each day, people are called through their speaker system when it is time for them to go to the mosque and pray. In this time, it is very important that you will turn off all music so that their daily prayers won’t be disturbed.
Even they have religious freedom, you must still observe and value their Islamic beliefs. Generally speaking, any disrespectful whereabouts towards any religious beliefs and practices it is highly offensive. An in UAE it can result in fines or heavy punishments.
- Dress Appropriately
I know how valuable OOTDs (Outfit Of The Day) are for those who are into fashion when they go out of your home, dressing nicely and flaunt your favorite clothes. But one thing you should consider in living or working in UAE is their dress codes. UAE still preserves the conservative dress codes.
It is essential for women that their shoulders, back and abdominal are totally covered when in public. Leave your low-cut shorts, mini-skirts and see through at the comfort of your home. As for men, they must cover their torso and their underclothing must not be seen.
However, these rules are unperturbed when it comes to hotels and beach, swimming pools that hotels owned. But topless? NO! It’s a big no in sunbathing.
Other than that, you can still wear anything that you prefer, just make sure you are maintaining modesty and be respectful in what you wear. No matter what job you got.
- Premarital Relationships Are Forbidden
Part of their law and culture is having a sexual relationship outside marriage is forbidden. Yes, that’s correct. Which means even if you have been living with your partner for years, you are not allowed to live together while working and living in UAE. Even in hotels! So, do not try to risk because there will be severe punishments for people who break them. You can be jailed and then deported. YOU MUST CONSIDER THIS BEFORE YOUR JOB HUNT OR YOUR PLAN LIVING IN UAE, especially if you have a long-term partner that you plan to move with.
- Public Displays of Affection Are Hardly Accepted
Along the same lines, PDA is not tolerated, hugging and kissing in public is a NO. Though, holding hands is usually okay, if you are married. It is deeply frowned upon by men to randomly speak to a woman and or take pictures of women without their consent. If you are a man looking for work in UAE, be aware of these gender expectations.
If you’re working and you love shopping, welcome to shopper’s bliss! For UAE, specifically in Dubai has voluminous shopping malls, marketplaces and supermarkets to choose from that will give you a delightful shopping experience. With its real yet cheap gold and electronics, and high-quality products, UAE is the place for you!
One thing you must keep in mind always observed the UAE laws even in the simplest and tiniest thing like litter and spitting. This might get you in trouble and have to pay huge fines if you get caught in any act, which is not compliant with their laws, like what mentioned UAE laws are very strict.
UAE is considered one of the safest places in the world. As for they have strict laws and norms to keep the order. So if you are anxious about safety, worry no more because stringent law enforcement has been a vital compelling aspect for the expats or who works in UAE. We cannot recall how many instances we see people leave their phones on the table inside a food court area inside a mall while they go to order from the fastfood or go to the toilet. Although still we need to practice caution wherever as there is no guarantee that crime doesn’t happen. Still, it’s important to feel safe and secure and the police are always reminding residents through official announcements that they are safe.
10. Alcohol Consumption
It is prohibited to drink alcohol in Islam, as the Qur’an stated that, “intoxicants and games of chance” were “abominations of Satan’s handiwork,” that’s why Muslims are abstaining to drink any alcoholic drink. Nevertheless, you don’t have to worry because it is allowed and legal to enjoy alcohol for non-Muslims as long as you attain a liquor license to drink.
11. Scorching Summer
Summer in UAE is not enjoyable at all. The weather is indeed scorching in summer. You can cook an egg at the road or take a taxi for a 100-meter distance because of the heat. Do expect for intense air conditioning at your work and in many establishments.
12. Islamic Holidays
There are many Islamic holidays in UAE, which is very important to Muslims. In these times, working hours are shorter and it can be days off. So you may enjoy going home early, even you don’t practice the holidays. These holidays are also based on the sighting of the moon so sometimes the dates vary. You need to keep updated with the news and wait for official announcements from public offices.
So the above points are just some of the major items we want to share and discuss with you to make your expat life a smoother transition. You are not alone in this journey as many expats before you have already adjusted to the set-up in the United Arab Emirates.
The UAE is quite welcoming to expats and you will definitely see that when you finally step foot and see the day to day experiences and life as a resident here. Good luck in your journey and we hope you find these tips useful as you set your goal in being an expat in Dubai or the rest of the emirates.