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Working in Abu Dhabi?

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Working in Abu Dhabi

Working in Abu Dhabi is the dream of many expats. Is it yours, too? Then keep in mind that, despite the high numbers of foreigners in Abu Dhabi, securing a lucrative job can be challenging. InterNations provides useful advice on working in Abu Dhabi, including the job search and working conditions.
Abu Dhabi is the main contributor to UAE's GDP.

Due to its strong economy and modern cityscape, expats often get the impression that working in Abu Dhabi is a lucrative option. However, expats from Western countries often earn less in Abu Dhabi than they would in their respective home countries. Only those with special skills in the technical sector or management may indeed be able to receive a generous salary when working in Abu Dhabi.

That being said, average salaries increased by 5.3 percent across the UAE and they are predicted to increase by 5.9 percent in 2014. Abu Dhabi is the second most popular city for expats; 20% of expats currently residing in the UAE in a city other than Abu Dhabi express a desire to relocate there.

The city’s free trade zone, the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi HCSEZ, especially welcomes international investment and business, thus creating new jobs. International companies or branch offices of foreign businesses are among the top employers for expats working in Abu Dhabi.

The Economic Climate

Foreigners working in Abu Dhabi enjoy the benefits of the growing economy in the one of the wealthiest emirates in the UAE and strongest contributor to the UAE’s total GDP.

The economy relies mostly on income from natural resources like petroleum, with the petro-chemical industry offering plenty of employment options for those working in Abu Dhabi. It owns 95% of the UAE’s oil production. At the same time, the importance of newly emerging sectors such as real estate, business services, construction, and tourism is increasing.

To boost the tourism sector and create new job opportunities, hotels and entertainment facilities offer visitors all kinds of luxuries. A branch of France’s Louvre, a Ferrari theme park, and numerous shopping malls do not only provide an additional source of income but are also major leisure-time attractions for foreigners working in Abu Dhabi.

Expat Employment in Abu Dhabi

In the past few years, many large corporations and international companies have relocated their business to Abu Dhabi. Expats with specialized knowledge and good language skills often find work with these companies.

However, thorough research is a necessary prerequisite for working in Abu Dhabi. Embassies and consulates can provide further information and advice to prepare you for your job search abroad. As both Arabic and English are spoken in business, expats need to be fluent in at least one of these languages beforehand.

Looking for a Job

A good place to start is the job site of the government of Abu Dhabi, where companies can recruit employees. If you are hoping to work in Abu Dhabi, you can also make use of this resource to find open positions in the emirate and conduct a comprehensive job search.

In addition to that, different government entities advertise open positions directly on their websites. The Ministry of Presidential Affairs’ website offers an e-recruitment service (in Arabic) for submitting applications.

If you feel that your Arabic is not sufficient to use this system can apply the old-fashioned way and turn in their CV and application documents (passport, family book, academic and educational certificates, work experience) at the local Reception Office.

Recruitment Agencies

Private recruitment agencies in Abu Dhabi which specialize in recruiting international personnel are an alternative to the traditional job search. Here, applicants submit their documents via email and will be contacted for an interview when the agency has found a suitable job opening. The recruitment agency charges companies a fee for the successful placement of a candidate. For applicants, however, the service should be free of charge.

Unfortunately, some agencies take the unprofessional route and try to make some extra cash on the back of those eager to work in the number one expatriate destination in the world. Therefore it is important to be alert if a recruitment agency tries to collect additional fees. You should report this agency to the labor department immediately.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Antoine Mariaux

"Thanks to InterNations, I've received very useful tips about the Emirates and expat life in Abu Dhabi."

Maria Loura

"The idea to connect expatriates in Abu Dhabi is just fantastic! Have been looking for such a platform for a long time."

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