A guide to contracting in the UAE

contracting in the UAE

3rd April 2018

For the latest in our country guide series, we visit the land of skyscrapers, white beaches and palm shaped islands. We are, of course, talking about the UAE. The picturesque landscape makes the nation a hugely desirable holiday destination. But there’s more to this federation of islands than just tourism.

Construction, healthcare and tech

While it’s very common to consider the UAE and instantly think of oil, there are a number of other industries that are experiencing a real uptick in activity. Construction and infrastructure are key examples. Demand in both fields is particularly high, with the up-coming World Expo causing an increase in building developments.

The UAE government is also investing heavily in making improvements to its economy by directing funds from a variety of sources – including new VAT revenues – into the nation. This includes improvements to infrastructure, the creation of a ‘world-class healthcare system’ and developments in technology.

However, the federation is facing a shortage of the key skills required to meet this demand, so contractors from the world of healthcare, tech, construction and infrastructure will certainly find themselves highly sought after.

Things to know

For professionals seeking opportunities in the UAE, there are a few key things to be aware of when relocating. Life in the nation is very different to European destinations and contractors could find themselves in a tricky situation if they fail to behave in the manner that is expected of them.

Many will perhaps be aware of the laws surrounding alcohol and public intoxication in the federation. Drinking is only permitted in licensed locations and drunk public behaviour can result in punishment, including possible jail time.

Contractors will also need to ensure they are considerate of religious activity. The month of Ramadan, for example, will see changes to professional and personal behaviours.

Contracting in the UAE: the legal bit

When we look at the legalities of seeking work in the UAE, requirements in the nation again vary significantly compared to European destinations. You will need a visa, but there are different options available. A visit visa can be obtained in order to travel to the UAE for one or three months in order to attend meetings or conferences. This isn’t, however, a work permit. If you hold a visit visa and are found to be working in the nation you could be arrested, detained, fined or even deported. If you have a sponsored visa, the company could also face extensive fines. Ensuring you have the right visa, then, is crucial.

In order to work in the UAE, you will need a work and resident permit as well as a relevant sponsor. These can be tricky to obtain and have a short shelf-life, expiring after 60 days. Permits can also have very specific requirements, such as the need to undertake a medical examination or even fly to a specific airport in order to complete immigration checks, so you really will need to seek expert advice.

The UAE can be a great place to work for those able to abide by the strict work requirements. If you’re considering a move here, why not speak to our expert team:


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