Dubai is a city of extremes in many ways; determined to hang on to its cultural heritage, the emirate continues to race into the 21st century, embracing the technological advancements of the modern world. Consequently, those living and working in this intriguing emirate can expect to experience the good, bad and ugly that is typical of any large metropolitan city in the modern world. Working and living in Dubai can be an exhilarating experience if expats arrive here with an open mind and are sensitive to the cultural norms of the region.
Owing to its strategic location and the dynamic lifestyle that Dubai offers its residents, there are many benefits to working in Dubai.
One of the major attractions for expats looking to work in Dubai is that the government does not impose any tax on personal salaries. This means that what you earn is yours to spend and you owe nothing to the government. This also results in a higher disposable income per capita, making Dubai a very attractive place for work. Most expats who work in Dubai are able to live at a level of comfort and afford luxury goods that they may not be able to enjoy in their home countries. If you have worked for more than two years in Dubai, a lump sum 15% of your yearly salary is payable to you on departure (often known as end-of-service benefit). Residents of some countries, such as the USA, may be exempt from paying taxes on foreign income earned up to a certain amount. Foreign tax law varies from country to country and it is important to check the tax laws of your home country.
With the growth of tourism in Dubai and the deliberate diversification from an oil-dependent economy, Dubai has established itself as a very foreigner-friendly destination. Over 80% of Dubai’s population is expats from all over the world, resulting in an internationally diverse work force. This affords people the opportunity to get valuable international experience and establish a network with people from many other countries. With an increase in the presence of international companies in Dubai, the exposure to high-profile projects is much greater and you may end up working on a project that you may never have had the chance to experience in your own home country. Experience abroad and the ability to work with different people also provides employees with transferrable skills that can help fast track their careers.
Plenty of work opportunities
As a relatively young economy advancing at a rapid rate, Dubai is struggling to establish efficient processes in almost all sectors of industry (particularly media, medicine, oil and gas, construction, telecommunications and information technology) and is largely dependent on the expat population to provide this expertise. As a result of this, there is great opportunity for professionals and entrepreneurs who are looking to work or set up their businesses in Dubai. There is a long list of goods, services and expertise needed in the region and professionals with unique skill sets, particularly at management level, are often offered very lucrative salary packages. The government has also attempted to attract foreign investors by establishing numerous free zones for a variety of industrial segments in a bid to encourage the establishment of new businesses in areas such as Media City, Dubai International Financial Center, Healthcare City and Knowledge Village.
English widely spoken
Unlike many other countries where the language barrier can prove to be a major hindrance towards the establishment of new overseas businesses, English is widely used in Dubai and is spoken and understood by the majority of people who live and work here. Businesses and meetings are largely conducted in English and many of the local population speak and understand the language, making it easier for both Western expats as well as those from the East to do business with the locals.
Benefits and Work packages
Many employers have realized that for mid-level jobs, small increments in salaries are insufficient to retain talent; rather it is the extras and benefits that can make the difference in attracting and retaining talent. Although benefits and salaries for professionals are not what they once used to be, most employers still offer a decent salary package that includes, at a minimum, health insurance, 30 days of vacation per annum and once-a-year airline tickets to fly to your home country. Additionally, many employers also offer housing allowances, the opportunity to earn compensation and bonuses over and above the salary, flexible working hours and schooling allowances. In recent years, there is a greater trend towards a better work-life balance and accordingly, employers have altered their perks to cater to this growing demand. This is why companies such as Microsoft and IBM are so valued in the private sector; the latter is perhaps the most woman or mother-friendly company in the world, allowing work-from-home options for mothers in circumstances such as post delivery or in case of a sick child.
Dubai has established an international reputation for being the place to conduct business and is known as the perfect channel for imports and exports from the East and the West owing largely to its central location in the Middle East region. Dubai is within 4 hours of flying time from the majority of the world’s major business destinations including Europe, North Africa and Asia. Not only is the emirate a world class business hub, it is also a shop window to thousands of potential clients from the surrounding regions. Flying in to Dubai is easy and convenient with the Dubai International Airport, which in 2012 was named the second busiest airport in the world, and the more recently built Maktoum International Airport. The government of the UAE has pulled out all stops to develop impressive infrastructure to cope with the ever increasing influx of visitors to the region. Dubai’s roads are well designed and maintained and in 2009, it opened its doors to the much awaited Dubai Metro which connects major parts of the city. Dubai is the perfect location to stop over and break up a long business trip and most entrepreneurs admit that stopping over usually leads to the development of a new business connection for future trade.
In addition to these advantages, Dubai also has world class attractions, entertainment and a dynamic night life for after-work amusement, making it a highly desirable and attractive place to work and live in.