Important information about working in Abu Dhabi

Here is Time Out's list of important information about working in Abu Dhabi, including holiday leave, salaries and maternity leave

The Knowledge, Moving to Abu Dhabi

Online search engines
These are great for those who are unsure, or just open to new ideas about what job to go for, these sites enable you to cast an eye over a huge range of positions and get a sense for the kinds of jobs on the market. They’re also helpful for seeing which companies are in the
middle of recruitment drives. The downside is
that they are hugely popular, so you’ll often find yourself up against hundreds of candidates.
One of the most popular job sites in the Middle East, Bayt advertises countless jobs at any given time. If you’re one of those eager souls that logs on every morning in the hope of spotting your dream position, you’ll like, as it posts a stream of new jobs throughout the day. The majority of job vacancies are UAE-based, but you’ll also be able to find opportunities across North Africa and even Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
This Dubai-based recruitment portal lists an impressive 4,000 companies who use its services to find new talent. There are some big hitters there, including Daman, ADCB and Etisalat. Gulf Talent offers jobs right across the Gulf region, although you’ll find more hits if searching for jobs
in the UAE, and the array of positions available reflects this.
The Gulf branch of an international recruitment company, Monster is very user-friendly. Jobs are available in sectors from construction and banking to real estate, and it’s possible to search by function, region or industry. The site also allows you to upload your CV and offers tips and advice.

If there’s one topic in employment that everyone – expats and nationals alike – has an opinion on in the UAE, it’s Emiratisation, a government initiative to employ its citizens in the public and private sectors. For more information on the issue, contact the Emirates Nationals Development Programme (, whose vision is “to become the catalyst for the widespread integration of UAE nationals into the private sector, for the prosperity of the private sector and well-being of
the nation”.

Under UAE law, employees are entitled to severance pay, called gratuity, upon termination of their employment, but only after a minimum of one year’s service. The reason for this is to compensate for the lack of a government pension scheme for expatriate workers here. Exactly how much you get depends on your basic salary and the length of service, but this is the usual: up to three years – seven days’ basic pay for every year of service; three to five years – 14 days’ basic pay for every year of service; more than five years – 21 days’ basic salary for every year of service up to five, and then 30 days for every extra year. You will not get your gratuity if you leave before your contract period is complete, unless (as stated in Article 121 of the country’s labour law) your employer assaults you, or fails to meet their side of the employment contract.

The total number of official public holidays in the UAE differs from year-to-year, but as a guide you can expect around ten days spread throughout 12 months.

The timing of many religious holidays, such as Eid, depends on sightings of the moon, and it’s not always possible to confirm the exact timings in advance – which can make planning your time off work a little tricky.

One holiday that does have a fixed date, however, is the UAE’s National Day on December 2. Here is a list of all official UAE holidays, with the duration indicated in brackets:
• Hijri New Year’s Day (one day)
• Gregorian New Year’s Day (one day)
• Eid Al Fitr – end of Ramadan (two days)
• Eid Al Ada and Waqfa (three days)
• Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday (one day)
• Isra and Al Mi’raj (one day)
• National Day (one day)

Maternity & paternity
Under UAE labour law, an employee is entitled to 45 days of paid maternity leave if they have worked for more than one year for a particular company.

If they have worked for less than a year, they are still entitled to 45 days, but at half pay.

Further leave days are allowable by law, unpaid, and should be discussed with employers.

There are no paternity leave or paternity pay provisions under UAE law. but employers can provide such benefits if they wish.

Queries and disputes
The UAE Ministry of Labour (MOL) should be your first port of call for all employment-related questions, complaints or disputes. If you happen to work for a company based in a free zone, you may also want to contact the free zone authority.

As well as giving access to the UAE Labour Law document in full and in English, the MOL website provides extensive information on all manner of subjects. Alternatively, you can contact the call centre and speak to someone directly. (800 665/04 702 3333).

Terminating employment
If a person has worked for less than two years and the employment is terminated (or the individual resigns), an automatic six-month employment ban is imposed on them by the Ministry of Labour.

This can be avoided, however, if the employer is willing to provide the employee with a No Objection Certificate (NOC). Note that employment laws may differ if you’re working in a free zone.

In addition, a common question is whether employers are permitted to recoup the cost of any training they may have provided should you leave.

The simple answer is no – unless you’ve signed a contract agreeing to such terms beforehand, stating that you would repay these costs if your employment was terminated.

Workplace etiquette
Dress in professional attire in the workplace – in most places, professional suits are the norm for both men and women.

At all times you should show respect to the local culture, especially during the Holy Month of Ramadan, when you should not eat or drink in front of fasting Muslims.

Most workplaces will have a dedicated area that’s screened from view where non-fasting employees can eat.

Recruitment scams
Some jobseekers in the UAE have found themselves victims of scams, tricked into handing over cash for interview training or non-existent fees.

UAE Labour Law states that jobseekers cannot be charged a recruitment fee, so the first warning bell is if a company asks for any money upfront. Employers are always the ones charged, not candidates.

While salaries will depend on the individual employee, the employer and the nature of the employment itself, features a salary calculator that is useful for giving a very general idea of what you can expect to be paid in a given industry or profession within the UAE.

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