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Excerpted from the United Arab Emirates Guide.

General Trends

Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the country has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. Before oil was discovered, the UAE economy was dominated by pearl production, fishing, agriculture and herding. Since 1973, petroleum has been the main driver of the country’s economy, although the UAE’s efforts at economic diversification have succeeded in reducing the portion of its petroleum-based Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to 25 percent. It is worth noting the country’s huge oil reserves could very well last nearly 100 years.

The UAE’s relatively small local population enjoys the world's seventh-highest yearly per capita GDP of 49,000 USD. The UAE, and particularly Dubai, is a commercial and business hub of the Middle East. It has developed a leading role in finance and created a logistics hub between east and west. The UAE is also home to one of the fastest-growing airlines in the world, Emirates. The country has no corporate taxes (with the exception of banks and foreign oil companies that have concessions in UAE oilfields), no income taxes and a relatively low import duty of 5 percent. The UAE has an annual economy of more than 271 billion USD and excellent infrastructure.

Employment Outlook

Global business uncertainties are making employers cautious this year about adding new employees. In fact, the UAE is experiencing a double-digit drop in hiring this year compared to last year.

Some employers are more focused on retaining rather than hiring talent this year. Caution is causing increased time to hire, with multiple interviews and senior-level approvals. But while many multinational businesses are very cautious, many local companies are recruiting both local and expatriate candidates.

Areas of Job Promise

The greatest demand is for highly experienced specialists and mid-level and senior professionals in health care, accounting, sales and procurement, and pre-contract construction management.  

Finance and accounting: Recruiting is increasing for finance and accounting professionals. Employers in finance and accounting are seeking business-savvy individuals with strong commercial acumen who, in addition to traditional activities, can increase revenues and work well with colleagues in other departments.


In the UAE, Western expats earn 12.6 percent more than Arabs and over 40 percent more than Asians in equivalent jobs.

Salaries for employees in the business sector will likely rise as much as 6 percent this year. Senior investment bankers in Dubai may earn up to 150,000 AED (40,839 USD) per month, according recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley.

This is just a sample of what you'll find in the complete United Arab Emirates Guide.

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