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How to Hire Employees in Dubai

In this article we set out the key things you need to know when hiring employees in Dubai and the UAE.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand Dubai and UAE Labor Law:First and foremost, it’s crucial to understand the employment laws in the UAE, which primarily include the UAE Labour Law and Free Zone specific regulations. Issues like contract types, working hours, leave policies, termination rights, and end-of-service benefits are all governed by these laws.
  • Get a work permit: For foreign workers, you’ll need to get a work permit from the Ministry of Human Resources & Emiratisation.
  • Advertise the job: Advertise the job through local job sites, newspapers, or recruitment agencies.
  • Draft a labor contract: Draft a contract that complies with UAE labor law, and onboard the employee.

What are the legal requirements for hiring employees in Dubai?

When hiring employees in Dubai, several legal requirements and guidelines are set forth by the UAE Labour Law and the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE). Below are some of the key legal requirements:

  1. Employment Contract: An employment contract must be drafted and signed by both parties. This contract must clearly state the terms and conditions of the employment, such as job description, salary, benefits, working hours, and termination procedures. The contract should be in Arabic as it is the official language, although a bilingual contract can also be used.
  2. Work Permit and Visa: All foreign employees must have a valid work permit and residence visa to work in Dubai. The employer is usually responsible for arranging these. The process involves a medical examination, including tests for certain communicable diseases.
  3. Emirates ID: Every resident in the UAE must apply for an Emirates ID, a legal requirement that is used for identification and several other purposes.
  4. Labour Card: After getting the work permit, employees must be registered with the MOHRE to get a labour card.
  5. Health Insurance: Employers are required by law to provide medical insurance to their employees. The level of coverage may vary, but basic health needs must be met.
  6. Wages Protection System (WPS): Employers are required to use the Wages Protection System (WPS) for paying their employees. This is an electronic system that allows for the timely payment of wages.
  7. End of Service Gratuity: According to the UAE Labour Law, employers are required to provide an end-of-service gratuity to employees who have completed one or more years of continuous service. The gratuity is calculated based on the employee’s last salary and years of service.
  8. Adherence to Labour Laws: Employers must follow the UAE Labour Law in all aspects of employment, including working hours, leave entitlements, and employee rights.
  9. Emiratisation: Employers should be aware of the Emiratisation policy, which encourages the hiring of UAE nationals in certain sectors and roles.

These are general requirements. Depending on the sector in which your business operates, there might be additional legal considerations. Therefore, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel or HR advisory to ensure full compliance when hiring in Dubai.

How much does it cost to hire employees in Dubai?

The cost of hiring employees in Dubai can vary significantly depending on a range of factors, including the industry, the role, the level of experience required, and whether the employee is a UAE national or an expatriate.

Here are some general costs that you should consider:

  1. Salary: The salary can vary dramatically depending on the position. For example, in 2023, an entry-level position might start from AED 3,000 per month, while a senior executive position could exceed AED 50,000 per month.
  2. Visa and Sponsorship Costs: For expatriate employees, the employer must sponsor the employee for their residence visa and work permit. The cost of this can range from AED 3,000 to AED 7,000 per person. This includes costs for medical fitness tests and Emirates ID. It’s important to remember that these costs are recurring and must be paid every two or three years when the visa is up for renewal.
  3. Medical Insurance: As per Dubai Health Authority regulations, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide health insurance coverage for their employees. The cost can range from AED 500 to AED 800 per year for basic coverage, but could be much higher for more comprehensive plans.
  4. Recruitment Costs: Depending on how you recruit, there may be costs involved in advertising the role, using a recruitment agency, conducting background checks, and so on.
  5. Office Space: While not a direct cost of hiring an employee, it’s important to consider the cost of the necessary office space, equipment, utilities, etc.
  6. End of Service Gratuity: As per UAE labor law, employees who have completed a year or more in continuous service are entitled to an end of service gratuity, which is calculated based on their salary and duration of service.
  7. Training & Development: Training your new hires to get them up to speed with your operations or investing in their professional development also add up to the hiring cost.

These are just a few examples and the actual costs could be different based on the specific circumstances of the role and the company. It’s also important to remember that the cost of living in Dubai is relatively high, which can influence salary expectations.

What are the key ways to hire employees in Dubai?

Hiring employees in Dubai can be done through various means. Here are some of the key ways you can go about it:

  1. Direct Hiring: With this approach, you set up a subsidiary or branch in the UAE, and then you advertise job vacancies, conduct interviews, and hire employees directly. This method gives you the most control over the process, but it can be time-consuming and requires a good understanding of local labor laws and practices.
  2. Professional Employer Organization (PEO): A PEO is a company that provides comprehensive HR solutions for small to mid-sized businesses. They can manage all aspects of HR, from payroll and benefits to compliance and risk management. They employ the staff directly and lease them back to you. This approach can simplify the hiring process, reduce risk, and save time. Read more about the things to consider when deciding on a PEO in How to choose the right PEO solution for your business.  
  3. Employer of Record (EOR): An Employer of Record, also known as International PEO, is a third party that hires employees on your behalf in countries where you do not have a legal entity. The EOR handles all local legal and regulatory compliance, payroll, and benefits, while the employees perform their work for you. This can be an effective way to quickly build a team in a new market without setting up a local entity. Read about the subtle ways in which an EOR can differ from a PEO in our EOR vs PEO guide. 

Remember, each of these methods has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the best approach depends on your specific needs, resources, and business context. It’s often useful to use a combination of methods to attract a diverse range of candidates.

What are the steps businesses need to take to hire employees in Dubai?

Here’s a basic step-by-step guide to hiring employees in Dubai:

  1. Identify the Need: Define the job role, responsibilities, qualifications, and skills required. This will help you in creating an accurate job description.
  2. Advertise the Job: Publish the job opening on job portals, social media, your company’s website, or use a recruitment agency. There are many online job portals where you can advertise vacancies, such as Bayt, GulfTalent, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Dubizzle. These platforms have a wide reach and can attract a large number of candidates.
  3. Shortlist Candidates: Review applications and shortlist candidates based on their qualifications, experience, and the skills they bring to the role.
  4. Interview Process: Conduct interviews to evaluate the candidates further. The process may involve multiple rounds, including phone screening, in-person interviews, and assessments.
  5. Job Offer: Once you’ve selected the final candidate, make a job offer. This should include the salary, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.
  6. Employment Contract: Prepare a formal employment contract. This must be in Arabic (or bilingual with Arabic as one of the languages) and must be registered with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
  7. Work Permit and Visa: If the candidate is a foreign national, you’ll need to apply for a work permit and visa. The process involves medical testing, obtaining health insurance, and acquiring a labor card from the MOHRE.
  8. Emirates ID: The employee must also apply for an Emirates ID, which is a legal requirement for all UAE residents.
  9. Onboarding: Once all the formalities are completed, arrange for the employee’s onboarding. This should include an introduction to the team, training on their role, and familiarization with company policies and procedures.

Remember, hiring in Dubai involves understanding and complying with local labor laws, so it’s advisable to seek local legal counsel or HR advisory services to ensure you’re meeting all requirements.

Hiring employees in Dubai — choose wisely

Hiring employees in Dubai and the UAE means having a details understanding of employment regulations, market conditions, and specific cultural factors that impact on employment in Dubai. To streamline hiring in Dubai many companies will benefit from a Dubai PEO or Dubai EOR solution. 

Check out our Dubai PEO and Dubai EOR guides to find Dubai’s top PEOs and best EORs. 


Yes, it's mandatory for all employers in Dubai to provide health insurance for their employees. The Dubai Health Authority requires all employers to provide a basic level of health coverage for all workers. The level of coverage may vary, but basic health needs must be met.

As per the UAE Labour Law, the probation period can be a maximum of six months. However, the exact length of the probation period may be less, and should be stated in the employment contract. During this period, both the employer and the employee can terminate the contract without notice or end-of-service benefits.

As per the UAE Labour Law, an employment contract can be terminated in several ways, including by mutual agreement, at the end of a fixed-term contract, or by one party unilaterally under certain conditions. The party initiating the termination usually has to provide notice of 30 days, but this can vary depending on the contract. If the employer initiates the termination, they may need to provide end-of-service benefits, known as a gratuity, which is calculated based on the employee's salary and length of service. It's crucial to follow the legal process for termination to avoid potential disputes or legal issues.