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How to Hire Employees in Dubai: A Guide for Employers

April 4, 2023

Dubai is known as The City of Superlatives, and it’s easy to see why — it’s home to the world’s tallest building, one of the world’s largest man-made islands, and a population of over 200 nationalities — making it one of the most diverse cities in the world. 

In fact, Emiratis make up just 11% of the population of Dubai, so if you’re looking to hire remote talent there, chances are you will receive applications from candidates of many different nationalities.

Like the rest of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai offers foreign nationals the opportunity to live and work in a stable, growing economy with a high standard of living and relatively low crime rates. 

Additionally, expats aren’t required to pay income tax, so they can keep 100% of their earnings — making Dubai an attractive destination for talented people all over the world. All this diverse talent makes it an ideal place for global businesses looking for their next hire

Of course, if you want to hire talented people in Dubai, you’ll need to make sure your hiring processes align with UAE labor laws. For example, the UAE has different rules for full-time employees and independent contractors, and it’s essential to classify your hires correctly, as misclassification can lead to eye-watering fines. 

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about hiring remote employees in Dubai.

Legal Requirements for Hiring Employees in Dubai

Dubai has a comprehensive set of employment laws and regulations that aim to protect the rights of employees and ensure fair and ethical business practices. These laws cover hiring and firing, working hours, compensation, health and safety, annual leave, sick leave, maternity leave, and more. 

Employment contracts in Dubai must be formalized in writing and contain the terms and conditions of the job, including salary, benefits, working hours, and duration of employment, which can be either fixed-term or unlimited.

Employers who wish to hire expatriates living in Dubai are responsible for obtaining all the necessary permits on behalf of foreign employees, such as residence visas and work permits. The work visa in Dubai is known as the labor card and is a requirement for all foreign nationals.

Additionally, the UAE government requires employers to provide health insurance, and a minimum wage exists for foreign nationals. The minimum salary threshold varies depending on the job classification and industry. Also, for employers based in UAE, Emiratisation policies are in place to encourage the hiring of UAE nationals. The quota for hiring UAE nationals for UAE-based companies is 2%, and failure to comply can result in hefty fines. 

It’s also important to note when hiring employees in Dubai that the UAE workweek runs from Sunday to Thursday, with the weekend falling on Friday and Saturday. This is something to bear in mind if your business is based elsewhere and follows a Monday-to-Friday schedule. 

How to Find Talent in Dubai

If you’re going to hire local talent in Dubai, you’ll need to know where to look. Here are some pointers to help you get started. 

Online Job Portals

Dubai has several online job portals that allow employers to post job vacancies and receive applications from interested candidates. Some popular job portals in Dubai include, GulfTalent, Naukrigulf, and Dubizzle.

Employers of Record

Employers in Dubai can partner with an Employer of Record (EOR) to handle hiring, payroll, taxes, and compliance. An EOR is an organization with an established legal entity in the UAE that can hire employees on your behalf.

Referrals and Networking

Arab cultural values are strong in Dubai, and cultural norms place a high value on building personal relationships, even in professional settings. If you already have an established professional network or existing employees in Dubai, you can leverage them for referrals. 

Many job seekers in Dubai rely on recommendations from their networks to find opportunities, and referrals from trusted sources can often bring you high-quality candidates who are a good fit for the company culture.

Social Media

Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can also be good places to find suitable candidates in Dubai. You can use these platforms to post job vacancies, connect with potential candidates, and promote your employer brand.

How to Hire Expat Employees in Dubai

Hiring foreign nationals in Dubai can be a complex process, as it involves obtaining work visas and ensuring compliance with local labor laws. The procedure usually involves the following steps.

1. Obtaining a Work Permit

Employers must obtain a work permit for foreign nationals before they can work in Dubai. To do this, the employer must first get approval from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).

2. Applying for a Work Visa

Once the work permit is approved, employers must apply for a work visa on behalf of the foreign national by submitting the necessary documents and paying the required fees.

3. Medical Exam

Before the work visa can be issued, the prospective employee must undergo a medical examination by a healthcare provider to ensure they are healthy and free from communicable diseases.

4. Entry Permit

Once the work visa is issued, the foreign national must obtain an entry permit to enter Dubai. They can either do this online or through a travel agency.

5. Emirates ID Card

Once the foreign national arrives in Dubai, they must obtain an Emirates ID card, a form of identification required for all residents in Dubai.

6. Labor Contract

Employers must enter into a labor contract with the foreign national that complies with local labor laws. The labor contract must specify the terms of employment, including job title, salary, benefits, and working hours.

Onboarding and Training Employees in Dubai 

Onboarding and training are critical steps in the employee life cycle, as they help new hires feel welcome, understand their job responsibilities and expectations, and hit the ground running. 

In Dubai, employers are required to provide employee training on health and safety regulations and fire safety, among other areas. Here are some best practices for onboarding and training employees in Dubai.

1. Orientation Program

Start with an orientation program that covers the basics of the company culture, policies and procedures, and any other relevant information that new employees need to know.

2. Job-Specific Training

Provide job-specific training to help employees understand their responsibilities and the expectations of the role. This may include training on specific software or tools used in the job, as well as any relevant policies or regulations.

3. Health and Safety Training

In Dubai, employers are required to provide training on health and safety regulations and fire safety. Make sure that new employees receive this training promptly and that all employees receive regular updates on any changes to these regulations.

4. Ongoing Training and Development 

Offer ongoing training and development opportunities to help employees stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends and best practices. This can include workshops, conferences, online courses, and other learning opportunities.

5. Feedback and Coaching

Provide regular feedback and coaching to help employees improve their performance and reach their full potential. This can include performance reviews, one-to-one meetings, and mentorship programs.

6. Cultural Awareness Training

Dubai is a diverse city, so most teams are made up of people from different cultures and backgrounds. Consider offering cultural awareness training to help employees understand and appreciate diversity in the workplace.

An EOR Gives You Peace of Mind When Hiring in Dubai

Hiring employees in Dubai can be complex, and although understanding the local labor laws and regulations helps, compliance with legal requirements can still be a minefield — particularly for remote employers not based in the UAE.

For this reason, many global companies are partnering with an EOR like Remofirst to handle compliance issues such as hiring, payroll, and benefits for employees in Dubai. 

Remofirst is an EOR that offers same-day onboarding in over 150 countries. Unlike other EORs, there are no minimum or fixed-contract terms, and we even provide a free device delivery service so you can send equipment to your team members at no extra cost. 

For more information, check out our UAE country guide.