Dubai is known as the gateway to the Middle East, with a strategic location, rich natural resources and a global reach. The population in Dubai is made up largely of expats and migrant workers who have come to live, work and experience the Dubai lifestyle for themselves.
If you’re considering a move to Dubai, you’ll want to find yourself a job to help cover the relatively high costs of living. This guide will kickstart your research.
We’ll also look at another smart way to cut your costs using Wise to make international payments without needing to worry about high fees and poor exchange rates. Ready to start your new adventure?
Dubai has a somewhat iconic status as a modern international city with a mix of high end lifestyle options, great job opportunities and low taxes. As a result it’s a popular destination for expats from all over the world. By some estimates, 92% of the population of Dubai consists of expats and migrant workers, creating a real cultural mix.
Most expats head to Dubai to work in financial services, construction and tourism - and of course, with large expat communities comes the need for support services like international schools and healthcare providers. Dubai is a city designed for comfortable living, considered safe and family friendly - as long as you can afford the relatively high cost of living and housing.
You’ll be able to find out more about life in Dubai as an expat, by doing online research and joining expat groups such as the online and in person community at internations.com¹.
To work legally in Dubai your employer will need to apply to the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE) for a work permit on your behalf².
You’ll need to provide:
- Colour passport photos
- Your current passport
- Relevant academic paperwork, authenticated by the local authorities
- A letter of approval if you’re coming for a position like doctor, nurse or teacher
Your employer will need to take care of the application for your work visa, and can walk you through what’s required³.
You won’t be able to get a work permit for Dubai if you’re under 18 years old.
There’s no maximum age for applications to work in Dubai as a foreigner. However, your employer may need to pay more for a work visa if you’re aged over 65 - the standard current cost is AED5,000. This is compared to applications for those aged under 65 which start at AUD200 depending on the work visa category.
Australia does not have a current double tax treaty with UAE⁴. That said, one of the main draws about living and working in Dubai for many people is that there’s no direct equivalent of income tax there.
If you’re considered to be a tax resident in the UAE, the chances are you won’t need to pay income tax on money you earn there - although there are other taxes you need to know about, such as municipality tax and tourist taxes.
You’ll need to get professional advice if you have income from Australia, or if you aren’t living full time in Dubai for the entire tax year, as this may complicate your tax situation⁵.
If you’re just starting to look for a job in Dubai, you’ll be able to get an idea of your options with a simple Google search. There are many portals hosting Dubai job opportunities, including LinkedIn, and large global search options like Indeed⁶.
You can also look at some specialist recruitment pages for Dubai, such as the classified section of the Khaleej Times⁷, or the listings at Gulftalent.com⁸.
With such a huge expat population, it’s no surprise that Dubai banks are happy to provide accounts to foreigners living and working in the country. Popular local banks include Emirates NBD⁹ and First Abu Dhabi Bank ¹⁰ - or you can choose an account from a global institution with a large presence in Dubai, like HSBC ¹¹. In fact, there are many large international banks operating in Dubai, so it’s worth checking if your regular bank has an office there before you decide which account will suit you. You could find it’s most convenient to open a Dubai account with the same bank you use at home.
It’s standard practise in Dubai to attend a meeting in person before your account will be ready for use, to provide paperwork and signatures. Each bank will have their own process, but you can expect to be asked to provide your passport and visa or work permit, a letter from your employer or sponsor, and proof of your income. You might also need to show you’re a reliable customer, by handing over a letter of recommendation from your home bank.
If you’re considering a move to Dubai you have an exciting time ahead. Expats are going to continue to find rewarding career opportunities as Dubai continues to grow and diversify its economy - giving you a chance to enjoy Dubai’s unique lifestyle for yourself. Use this guide as a starting point to get your dream Dubai job, and then move on to sorting out the practical steps such as opening an AED account to make your transition seamless.Sources:
All sources accurate as of September 16 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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