However, the majority of contract and freelance appointments are made outside Dubai, and it’s rarely possible to arrive in Dubai without a job and find one locally. Many expatriate workers in Dubai are contracted either on a fixed-term contract (usually a year) or for a particular project, but many sub-contracted workers have managed to stay in the region for a number of years, having first arrived on a single, one-off, short-term contract. Work visas are still required, and it’s often a matter of who you know rather than what you know. But you’re helped by the fact that the expatriate community is close-knit and newcomers are sometimes surprised by the amount of help they’re offered.
Temporary & Casual Work
Owing to the number of expatriate workers on short-term contracts, there isn’t much casual and temporary work available, and you shouldn’t travel to Dubai with the purpose of finding temporary or casual work.
Over the last few years, however, increasing numbers of young westerners on a gap-year have managed to find temporary work in Dubai before travelling on to south-east Asia, Australia and New Zealand. If this is your intention, bear in mind that you’re up against workers from Asia who might be prepared to work for lower wages than a westerner would expect. Temporary and casual work might be available in the following areas:
- office administration, secretarial work and work in recruitment agencies;
- retail work during the height of the tourist season;
- bar staff in restaurants and nightclubs*;
- various jobs in ports such as crewing or making deliveries;
- market research street interviewers;
- nursing, for those qualified;
- courier services with international companies;
- driving for companies offering desert tours.
* Note that there are also ‘vacancies’ for women to act as hostesses in nightclubs; this work involves talking to male customers and encouraging them to run up large bar bills.
Temporary jobs tend to be advertised in English-language newspapers, on club notice boards and occasionally with recruitment agencies.
Trainees & Work Experience
The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is active in helping local citizens to find employment. As a result, expatriates trying to obtain access to traineeships or work experience are unlikely to be successful. A well placed individual in a company may be able to find you a temporary position, but in general it isn’t worth pursuing.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.