Working in Abu Dhabi

Due to its incredibly small local population, the economy of the United Arab Emirates depends on qualified expats working in Abu Dhabi and its surrounds to keep the wheels spinning. Foreigners hold jobs in any number of important sectors, and there are many opportunities to find work in Abu Dhabi.

That said, the abundance of available positions that marked the course of the last decade has dwindled somewhat.

Furthermore, the income-tax-free environment of Abu Dhabi has become less of an allure because of skyrocketing housing costs and salary levels that haven’t increased proportionately. Nevertheless, those that come to Abu Dhabi for a brief stint often end up staying for the lifestyle.

Finding a job in Abu Dhabi

Most expats who relocate to Abu Dhabi do so with an employment contract in place. The best methods of finding a job from abroad are to register with local recruitment agencies and to peruse the employment sections of the local newspapers, such as Gulf News, Khaleej Times and The National

Perusing company websites and networking via social media sites can also be beneficial. If already in the emirate, networking with friends and fellow community members is essential, and the best way to secure a new position.

Expats considering moving to Abu Dhabi without a contract – arriving on a tourist visa and quickly landing employment – should realise that although the government fully recognises the contribution of such a large foreign workforce to the region’s growth and development, it has nonetheless started advocating for an official policy of Emiratisation over the course of the last few years.

This concept pushes for both government and private sectors to hire a larger number of nationals in an effort to curb Emirati unemployment and to cultivate opportunity for the growing number of graduates. With quotas in place for the insurance, banking and trade sectors, expats may find it more difficult than in the past to find employment in Abu Dhabi, but there are opportunities for those that have adequate skills and training.

Changing jobs in Abu Dhabi

Expats will find that the ease of changing jobs is something they may have previously taken for granted. In fact, expats must basically apply for a new visa when they obtain a new job in Abu Dhabi.

The first step to completing the process is obtaining a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the original employer. Without this document the foreigner is liable to be banned from working – a stipulation that has a six-month minimum.

Additionally, many companies write anti-competition clauses into their contracts, preventing expats from working in a similar field in Abu Dhabi – a clear limiting factor for expats with a specific skill set.

These measures are put in place to prevent job hopping and protect the high financial investment that companies put into hiring foreign labour.

If the original employer/sponsor does approve the NOC request, then documentation must be taken from the Ministry of Labour, typed into Arabic and signed and stamped by both the former and the future sponsor. These are submitted with the employee's trade licence and the new company card, hopefully approved and then sent to the Immigration Department to validate the new visa.

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