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Home: Living Here: Employment in the United Arab Emirates

Employment in the United Arab Emirates has differences from employment elsewhere. Firstly we will discuss salary or money payment. There is no such thing as minimum wage, and because of this, there are people working 8 to 12 hours a day for Dhs. 30 (US$ 8), but this is normally for unskilled labourers. Skilled individuals normally have fixed timings of work and a fixed salary, which is paid around the begin of each completed month. A regular individual will normally make between Dhs. 2,000 (US$ 548) and Dhs. 4,000 (US$ 1,096) per month. You won't find jobs that pay per hour or companies that will pay wages at the end of each week.

Secondly we will talk about work timings. For many people, work is life. That this means is that for many people working from 8am to 1pm and again from 4pm to 8pm, there is not much time to do other things. Many people driving to work spend 2 to 4 hours in traffic getting to and from work. And at the end of it all, the whole day is spend either going to work, at work, or coming from work, which leaves very little time for anything else but eating, and sleeping. So if you get a chance to work a straight shift, that is the best way to go.

Thirdly we will discuss nationality and appearance. In the UAE, where you come from also affects the salary you get. For example, there was an American working the exact same job as an Indian and the American received Dhs. 3,000 (US$ 822) while the Indian received Dhs. 1,500 (US $411). The nationality and appearance factor will normally start from your resume, as many companies require you to send a picture with your resume. After that when you come down for a interview, many people, though highly qualified, don't get the job because of their looks. I know this is discrimination, but it happens in the UAE.

Fourthly we will talk about availability of jobs for expats. The United Arab Emirates has started implementing emiratisation, which is pushing to have more graduated UAE nationals, or Emiratees, working not only in the government sector, but now also in the private sector. The major categories of the private sector getting affected by emiratisation are banks, and educational institutions. And as this continues more and more expats will be replaced with UAE nationals, who will most likely receive higher salaries. A recent newspaper article entitled 'UAE urged to pressure private firms' was released by Gulf News, which basically states that the government should take steps to force firms in the private sector to employ more UAE nationals in order to reduce Emiratee unemployment. And though the government wishes to have them work in the public sector, Nationals shun private sector due to poor financial benefits and heavy workload (Gulf News).

Now we will discuss the issue of immigration to the United Arab Emirates by expats. Foreign workers in the UAE are not immigrants, but are temporary workers who come to the cuontry with the intention of leaving once their contract ends. (Gulf News) As foreign expats can rarely obtain UAE citizenship or passport

Here I would like to give you a few words of advice to those wishing to come and work in the UAE, if you don't have a degree, it will be difficult for you to get a job of even Dhs. 2,000 (US$ 548) a month. If you are a single person, this will be sufficient, but if you are planning to bring your family with you, then it will be insufficient as you wouldn't be able to sponsor your family with residence visas.

Essential UAE Employment Information
Below are important points that you should remember after getting employed by a company in the United Arab Emirates.

1. After getting employed, you will need to transfer your visa to the company you are work for (This rule is not applicable for women under sponsorship by their husband or father). If you have a visit visa, you will need to leave the country and then come back in, in order to transfer to a work visa (but due to the airplane crash on the 10th of February 2004, new measures are being taken so the change of visa wouldn't require leaving the country [Gulf News]). If you already have a work visa, you can transfer to a new company within the same emirate if you get a no-objection letter from your previous company (Gulf News). If you wanted to transfer to a company not in the same emirate they will have to leave the country with a 6-month ban and return afterwards. The six-month ban is likely to be removed, according to a source at the Ministry of Interior.

2. You can't work for more that one company unless your visa permits it, which is very rear. If you are caught working for another company, then a fine of Dhs. 10,000 will be applied to the company you were caught working at and other penalties may also be applied.

3. If your company tells you that they need to keep your passport, say NO. They don't have the authority by law to keep possession of your passport, so don't give it to them (Gulf News). If they have it, then ask for it back and if they don't want to give it back, take legal action if necessary.

4. If your company hasn't paid your salary for a few months, then you should watch out, as the number of employee strikes that end up in court for lack of payment seems to be increasing. So you should consider taking legal action if you find something fishy going on.

5. In order to get a family sponsorship visa, you need to make over Dhs. 4,000 and this needs to be visible on your employment contract. Many companies place incorrect values on employment contracts, in order for the employee to get family visa status, thought it is illegal.

So if you are ready to get employed in Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Sharjah, then you can ready through our other article Finding jobs in the UAE.

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