Country Profile: United Arab Emirates (UAE)

An overview for expatriates

For most people, the United Arab Emirates means just one place: Dubai, the sci-fi-esque city of iconic skyscrapers, palm-shaped islands, city-sized malls, indoor ski slopes and palatial beach resorts.

But beyond the glitter awaits a diverse mosaic of six more emirates, each with its own character and allure.

Oil-rich Abu Dhabi, the UAE's capital, is positioning itself as a culture and leisure hub. Beyond looms the vast Al Dhafra region, home to the northern reaches of the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter) desert's rippling dunes. Its magical silence is interrupted only by the whisper of shifting sands rolling towards Saudi Arabia.

North of Dubai, Sharjah is the UAE's art and heritage centre while Ras Al Khaimah is all about the beach – with a dash of adventure-activities thrown in.

East is Al Ain and the jagged embrace of the Hajar Mountains which border Oman.

Key Facts

POPULATION: 9.6 million

CAPITAL:   Abu Dhabi



OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Arabic and English 

CURRENCY: Emirati Dhiram (AED)

Country profile of UAE for expatriate workers


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of seven emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al-Quwain ruled by an absolute monarch.

It is situated in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south, sharing maritime borders with Qatar and Iran.


Reserves of oil and natural gas have brought vast wealth to the country, massive modern infrastructure and the most diversifed economy of the Gulf states.

The major non energy economic sectors are tourism and business. Dubai, the most populous city, is an important global city and hub of aviation and trade.

Heavily reliant on a large expatriate workforce, the Emirates is a very popular destination for excellent career opportunities, tax free income and the experience of a life in a cosmopolitan global city.

It is safe, modern, clean and family friendly with a wealth of activities and attractions to keep you busy. Excellent transport links to all parts of the globe, make the UAE a much sought after location.

Sectors and Skills

Medicine, Dentistry and Healthcare:

  • Primary Care: new to the Gulf but developing and experienced family physicians sought for roles in primary and urgent care centres.
  • Secondary Care: the bulk of healthcare provided in the UAE is by specialists and all specialities are in demand.
  • Tertiary Care: selected tertiary care is provided from specialist centres, mainly public, in the UAE.

Working in the UAE

The UAE Labour Laws govern employment terms across the country in all Emirates and these have different provisions for public and private sector employees, employees in the free zones and domestic workers.  The Law can be viewed in detail on the UAE Government website.  

Key Provisions:

  • working hours: Article 65 of the Labour Law defines the normal working hours for the private sector as 8 per day or 48 per week.
  • official leave and vacations: Friday is the official weekend and 11 days public holidays per year are classed as paid official leave days. Minimum paid vacation entitlement is 30 days per year and up to 90 days sick leave is allowed.
  • Wages Protection System (WPS): salaries must be paid on the due to employee bank accounts from banks authorised by the Central Bank of the UAE.
  • end of service benefits: for employees not entitled to pensions, end of service awards are paid. The amount of the award depends upon length of service.
  • safety at work place: Articles 91-101 of the UAE Labour Law specify the provisions for employee health and safety.
  • accommodation: must be provided by employer for workers earning less than AED 2000 per month
  • insurance: employers must hold appropriate sector relevant insurance.

Basic Employment Terms for expatriate workers: 

  • Tax free salaries and commission
  • Employer funded healthcare insurance cover
  • Travel from point of hire at start and end of contract
  • 30 days annual leave
  • End of service award (in accordance with UAE Labour Law)

Extra Provisions:

  • accommodation or housing allowance
  • education allowance for children
  • additional allowances for personal use, transport etc

The Cities of the UAE

Abu Dhabi - The Capital City

Dubai - The Commercial Hub

Al Ain - The Oasis

Sharjah - The Cultural City

Register for jobs in the UAE

Read and watch our case studies and interviews of our candidates who have carved out successful careers in the United Arab Emirates.

Register for roles and search for jobs in the Emirates.

Read our blog and news stories for information about the UAE.