In view of the distance between Dubai and the countries that supply many of the region’s employees, it’s necessary for agents to act as middlemen. Private recruitment consultants and headhunters in western countries (and particularly in London and New York) deal with most managerial jobs in Dubai, while agencies in India (particularly Bombay), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Korea, the Philippines (Manila) and Thailand (Bangkok) supply most of the enormous number of manual labourers employed in Dubai’s numerous construction projects.
Agencies tend to specialise in particular areas of work, e.g. medical and nursing staff, computer personnel, accountants, construction managers, executive and office staff, engineering and the technical trades. Agency and consultancy fees are paid by the employer, with no charge to staff. Fees are usually a percentage of the annual salary, ranging from 10 to 20 per cent for most jobs but lower for those with high salaries. Regular customers are often offered preferential rates.
Recruitment agencies in Dubai itself are sometimes used for placing expatriates in temporary work or for expatriate wives wishing to take up local employment. There are numerous regulations controlling the employment of spouses, and separate work visas are needed; the agent handles the details. Local agents are also used if expatriates change jobs. This, however, is uncommon, as expatriates are normally sent to Dubai under contract and job changes are restricted by their employers. You might under certain circumstances be allowed to break your contract, in which case a local agency might be of use. Otherwise, at the conclusion of your contract, a local agency might find you another job.
Government Employment Service
Dubai has no equivalent of the nationally-organised job centres found in western countries, and it’s the responsibility of the Ministries of Labour and Social Affairs to deal with employment (Department of Economic Development, PO Box 13223, Dubai, UAE (Tel. 600 560 000).
Dubai is trying to balance the need to import foreign labour with the interests of the local population, and companies are strongly encouraged to take on local nationals where possible. This ‘encouragement’ can be quite robust, and the Ministry is able to restrict the number of work visas issued or renewed to a company in order to comply with a quota of local intake.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Gulf States & Saudi Arabia. Click here to get a copy now.