Why we left Dubai


I don’t know how many times I’ve apologized for the lack of updates on this blog so I’m not going to do it now because I can’t promise to be consistent in writing with all the things currently going on in my life. But if you are reading this, thank you for still being here.

If you have followed me on social media, you may have come across posts where I mentioned that we have left Dubai, our home for the past 10 years and 11 months. To many, it was a sudden move, a surprising decision even, especially when I said we’re moving back to Japan – it’s shocking to some people who has heard me say I will try hard not to live in Japan again, after we left in 2007. (But that is another blog post to write)

I struggled for the time to be able to sit down to write this post and even thought of just closing down this blog and quit writing. But who am I kidding? I don’t know if I’ll ever lose my love for writing. Sentences have already formed n my head even before our flight out of Dubai took off and I couldn’t wait to be able to open my laptop and write away these thoughts.

Also, when you have followers on social media and readers on your blog, you feel some kind of social responsibility to be transparent, to share the goings on in your life, especially they have followed you from the start. And I really wanted to write this post to collectively tell our story for those reading this and for myself, as a reminder years from now why we made this big move.

There is not one single reason why we left Dubai. It is a mix of so many reasons that snowballed into the major but necessary decision to pack up and leave.

Reason #1: my work

“Life’s too short to do the things you don’t love doing.”

Somehow, this quote had been crossing my mind so often I wake up in cold sweat in the middle of the night.

It wasn’t always like that. I am grateful to be given the chance to work in Dubai in my previous company with so many wonderful people who became not just my work colleagues, but my friends. My day job allowed me and my family to live in Dubai comfortably and indulge in life’s little pleasures like traveling outside of the UAE.

However, after many years, the stuff I do for a living has brought more stress than happiness no matter how I tell myself ,”get over it, this too shall pass”. Day in, day out, getting on the train, running to catch the time, sweating profusely during the grueling hot months (more than half of the year?!), sitting down from 8 am to 6 pm on mechanical mode going through papers and papers, putting in over time some of the time but feeling unappreciated, etc. And then repeat again till the last work day of the week. Lately, the theme of my life had been #WaitingForWeekends.

When you reach the point where you dread when the weekend ends and the work week begins, you know life has become stressful and unhealthy. When sometimes you find yourself half-assing your work, unconsciously, you know you need to put an end to it.

I know that sounds like a selfish thing. And there are bills to pay. Believe me, I have battled voices in my head saying, “you should be grateful you have a job!” or “the pay is good, the work is not difficult, why leave?” or “why don’t you just get up, show up, sit for 8 hours and wait for the paycheck?” and then on the other side, so many voices of reasons that would sum up:

“Are you sure you want to do the same thing everyday for the next ten years?”

And the answer to that was NO.

I guess when you work in a place that long, (10 years and 11 months for me in the same company), you would want some sort of change. I’ve asked for it but that change didn’t come and I didn’t see it coming at all. Doing something over and over again that long is not sustainable, at least for me. I feel my feelings weren’t normal because in my previous company, people have worked for 10, 20 or even 30 years. No one ever leaves (almost) that people didn’t believe I resigned and started to speculate and spread rumors that I was terminated. When I said I submitted my resignation paper last November 2017, there wasn’t a single soul who didn’t think I was joking. “Why would you?”

There’s also the lingering matter of my age. I’m 41 and it came to the critical point where IF I have to change jobs, I have to quit the current one NOW otherwise stay there till I retire. There was no change in the horizon with the current one and no, I don’t want to do the same thing I was doing day in and day out for the next 3,650 days of my life.

“So if you didn’t like your job, why didn’t you apply for other jobs, in Dubai?”

We move on to reason #2.

Reason #2: the kids

playing in the snow

There are several reasons worthy enough of a separate blog post that could be controversial to other families raising their kids in Dubai. Dubai is still a great place for families for many, however, PERSONALLY, I feel it wasn’t the best place for us anymore. The lifestyle didn’t fit what we wanted for our family.

I have a child who is transitioning into adulthood. She is 14, and while very open minded and sensible, I feel that living in Dubai as she transitions into this very important phase in life will not ready her or arm her with important life skills she needs and resilience when life is not so convenient and comfortable anymore in the outside world.

The other child is six years old and always happier when taken outdoors, not just for a period of time (cooler months in Dubai) but everyday.

Reason #3: the husband’s job instability

Background: we moved to Dubai because of my work; he was the trailing spouse.

To his credit, he really tried. He has come a long way from someone who didn’t know how to speak or write proper English sentences to someone who can negotiate business affairs using a language foreign to him. He is Japanese and only speaks Japanese language with me from the start. And in Japan where we previously lived, there is no need to use English.

In the past years when his job doesn’t work out due to various unfortunate reasons like salary was too low to compensate for the long hours, company downsizing, etc, he managed to get another and then another. He even worked in Saudi Arabia for a year while the kids and I remained in Dubai in 2016.

We decided, ENOUGH.

Now that we are in Japan, he can find something that would suit him better here. It’s his home country after all and as for me – I can manage to fit in, as I did for 10 years I was here before moving to Dubai. I can find something here should I decide to work (I have worked here for 5 years after graduation before).

Reason #4: there’s no forever in Dubai

Dubai is a transient place. More than 80% of the population are expats from 200 different countries…who will ultimately leave one day, it’s just a question of WHEN. It’s actually scary when you really think about it.

Why? The UAE doesn’t offer permanent residency – visas are tied with your job that if you lose it, you only have 30 days to either find a new one or exit the country, no citizenship offered as well.

It’s a temporary place where people come to earn and/or save.

I liken living in Dubai as part of the story of the Japanese folk tale of Urashima Taro – a fisherman who gets to visit a beautiful kingdom under the sea as a reward for rescuing a tortoise. The kingdom under the sea is like paradise and Urashima Taro lingered on, enjoying every moment, forgetting about the outside world. When he came up and went back to land, he was shocked to find out so many years have passed since the last time he was there.

Most expats in Dubai, us included, arrived thinking they’ll stay “just for a couple of years” but then the lifestyle is too comfortable, convenient and appealing, the malls so big, bright and shiny LOL, and we all end up making Dubai our semi-permanent home and before we know it, we’ve been living in this glorious city for years and decades.

And leaving gets harder and harder the longer you live in Dubai.

It’s a transient place and we’re all waiting for that “snap” that could be in the form of: you or your spouse losing your jobs and can’t find one before the 30 days grace period ends, you or your spouse’s company closes down and can’t find another company to sponsor your visa before the 30 days grace period ends, Dubai’s economy all together snaps and you become redundant or worst case scenario, war erupts in the Middle East (the UAE is peaceful right now and I think it will be for the next years…but then again, there’s no guarantee?)

So what if the “snap” happens tomorrow and we have no savings or when we’re 50? Where will we go? Will there be any companies to accept us back home or somewhere else?

We felt it is time to settle and build a permanent home.

ben walking in snow


We are all Japan passport holders, my husband is from here and we have family here (his side, our children’s grandparents who are so delighted with our move). Japan will always be that place we can base ourselves the easiest, move with least effort, financially, logistically. Here, we are eligible for social insurance and school for the kids is free.

Also, we feel it’s time for our children to get to know the culture and heritage that’s part of who they are.

Are we staying here for good? I don’t know about the “for good” part but “for now”, yes.

No matter how comfortable and almost perfect life is in Dubai, we are only there on borrowed time. With the visa, we are given the privilege to stay in Dubai/UAE. In Japan, we have the right to stay as long as we can.

One interesting thing about this move – much like when people in Dubai asked me why we left Japan, people here in Japan are asking me why we left Dubai – a seemingly modern day Utopia where everything is convenient; even the heat is a mild matter as we live in temperature controlled houses and sleep with our comforters even when it’s nearing 50C outside.

The grass is always greener on the other side, eh?


January 13th 2018 (that’s today in my time zone) would have been our 11 years anniversary in Dubai but we’re no longer there. I wanted to start the new year fresh and new so I chose to leave before 2017 ended. Honestly, I thought I’d write a really sappy post how I missed life in Dubai but not right now. I actually didn’t have time to grieve over leaving the city we called home for nearly 11 years. I was so busy with so many things like patching things at work before my exit, selling/giving away/disposing things at home and preparing to leave for the Philippines last month for my sister’s wedding. (Had several incidents even before we landed in Manila with Benjamin suddenly getting sick on the plane and we had to call emergency when we landed and then the airline losing 2 of my checked in luggage and typhoon Vinta got our flights to my hometown cancelled …who has time to be sappy about Dubai?)

And then this move to Japan.

I might eventually get nostalgic and write the sappy post someday but not today. I’m busy looking forward to the challenges we’ll all face. The kids’ attending Japanese school, me looking for a job (or deciding to stay at home!), looking for a permanent house etc.

Oh, and the harsh winter. I am more bothered of the cold, cold temp inside the house this winter to be grieving about the past.

I do have a passing thought and probably an advice to you expats thinking about leaving Dubai: don’t leave when Dubai is at its most gorgeous in the “winter” months, especially if you’re destination is the real winter world. You’ll miss and long for Dubai’s glorious sunshines in December.

Leave during the summer when you’re cursing your way out of the airport and happily looking forward to your normal world destination where you can stand outside without your arm pits transforming into waterfalls of sweat and you can breathe without being choked by 95% humidity.

Oh and one last thing keeping me from grieving?

I need a new blog name.

The most common question expats get

home matsumoto

Another year is about to start so we get the most generic of questions from family and friends back home,

“You’re still there?”

We’re about to welcome another year in Dubai. Didn’t we come here and intend to stay for a few years? You know, just to test the waters? (As of this writing, it’s our 10th summer in Dubai).

All our furniture except for the white goods (fridge and washing machine) were all second-hand when we bought them seven years ago. We’ll only stay for a while so what’s the point of buying all new? But somewhere along the way, home had become the here and now, Dubai.

“How many more years?”

I thought to myself – after all these years and we still don’t have the answer.  A few more years.


Because the more time we spend here, the roots have gone deeper and it seems that moving back home is not as straightforward as it should be.

Japan. We’ve lived there before, how hard can it be? But we do know how hard it can be because the more adjusted an expat is outside of his country, the harder he falls once he repatriates. Once the excitement of homecoming recedes and the steady stream of well-wishers tapers off, reverse culture shock happens.

I should know, I’ve been there. Somewhat.

When I was 19 and studying abroad, I made some of the most significant friendships in my life. I met my husband and formed great friendships in school and later on, at work while there. After living in Japan for 10 years, going back to the Philippines even only for month-long vacations felt strange. It’s like I’ve known the place and the people all my life but then don’t know it at all. Somewhat disconnected with the used to be familiar things. New streets, new malls, that slower pace of life. Everything seems to be different. My former friends were busy with work, their own lives that it was very difficult to gather them all together, in one place. I was back home yet feeling strangely alien to the place. I get so excited when the plane lands but itching to leave only after a few days. (I don’t know if my other five expat siblings all feel the same)

I think when you’re a long term expat, it’s a constant tug of war. It’s like being stuck in limbo: neither here or there. You’ll miss your first home (or second) when you live overseas and then when you’re back home, you miss the exciting life abroad. And by ‘exciting’ – it’s expected anyone who has lived in Dubai will really miss it when they’re gone from here.

I survived driving to Kite beach

beach day

Last weekend, I woke up and decided I would take the kids to the beach, never mind I’d be driving for 30 minutes to get there. If you know me, you know how I feel about driving, especially with routes I am not familiar with or have not driven to at all.

I’m happy to say that yes, we have arrived safely and in one piece at Kite Beach. I was so exhausted but after seeing Benjamin’s reaction when he stepped on the shore? Every drop of sweat on my palms and other body parts too scandalous to mention was worth it. Even Pristine was so happy never mind she couldn’t swim as the water was still too cold at this time of the year.

P in beach 1

Why was I driving when I dread driving? Well, the husband is away and I’ve been single parenting for the 2nd week now. This is actually nothing new because even when he is here, I am single parenting most of the time anyway. So when he is gone, I say to myself “Heck, what’s the big deal? What’s the difference?”

But alas, it’s only when the other spouse is away that we realize, it isn’t the same after all. This family thing is not a one man or one woman show, especially when there are children involved. We are a team and it’s not the same if one team member is not around. It’s funny how different it is when you’re married and have kids than when say, compared to when you were just dating. The I-miss-you-how-am-I-going-to-cope-up-without-you moments have been replaced by I-can-handle-this, I-should-handle-this! mentality. 

I am proud to say I can manage most things alone. I can run the house alone. But then, there are times when I wish my spouse was there to fill in the gap. Like driving, for one (and wirings gone wonky around the house…).

Though I was driving every day while we were living in Japan before our move to Dubai, driving in Dubai is a whole different ball game for me. I am terrified of driving to places I am not familiar with. Hello big burly speeding cars, impolite drivers and 7 lane highways!

(You have no idea how grateful I am for the Metro!).

Ben at the beach 1

p and b at the beach 1

The kids and I had so much fun at the beach where we stayed till around 1 pm. What a liberating feeling to have no restrictions on time. 


I didn’t realize there was a T Swift song playing in the background when I took this video… A video posted by Grace | Sandier Pastures (@sandierpastures) on


Don’t you just love days where you don’t care about what time it is?

I wish I could do this more often so I can conquer my fear of driving especially if the kids are in the car with me. But yesterday, I managed to get to Kite Beach (and back home) with Google maps, pure guts and sweaty hands.

Several articles on the internet point that frequent travel of one spouse have negative effects on the family. Maybe. But I think there’s also a positive side. The spouse who is left behind is forced to develop themselves to become a more mature, more courageous parent and individual.

I certainly feel braver now.

We’re nine years in Dubai

pristine 2007

The above photo was taken exactly NINE years ago, today. It was the morning after we landed in Dubai from a long flight from Japan (my camera even still showed Japan time). Our daughter Pristine had just turned 3 years old and I just started working at my current company. We moved to Dubai without any concrete life plans other than “testing the waters” and that whatever happens, we could always go back to Japan.

P in 2007 2

Nine years later, we are still here. NINE. Sounds like a long time, right?

I still don’t know until when we’ll be here but for now (we are asked that expat year end question again and again), Dubai is (still) home. I lived in Japan for 10 years and 3 months. Do you think I’ll surpass that record in Dubai?

Start of my life as an expat


It’s Thursday again! I was drafting a little personal #ThrowbackThursday story that was meant to be published in my blog’s Facebook page but then it got longer and longer that I thought, what the heck, I’ll make this into a blog post instead!

As you may have noticed in my previous posts and in my social media channels, especially in my Instagram, I’ve been in the Philippines for vacation, staying at my parent’s house. One of the things I love and I always do when I am there? Look at old photographs! I never get tired of going through the old, dusty albums back home. I found some precious pics that could provide me throwback status posts for the rest of the year.

I shared my expat story before, but I think I’ve never wrote about how it started.

When do you start to become an “expat”? Does my time as a student qualify me to be called an expat? If being an “expat”, defined in Wikipedia as,  a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of their citizenship, I’ve been an expat since I was 19. Hmmm, thinking about it now, that sounds overwhelming.

But if being an expat means one should be holding a job, i.e., earning, then my expat life started after I graduated from school. My expat life started a few days after this below photo was taken.

Grace in Nagano

My first job after graduation in the year 2001 was in Nagano Prefecture (Japan), some 200 kilometers away from my school in Sagamihara City, Kanagawa Prefecture. From that comfort zone that was the school dormitory where I spent four and a half years, I was thrown into a totally different setting: living alone in a small apartment of my own in a small town where trains only come a couple of times in an hour and very cold winters that could freeze a huge lake.

The city where I lived in Nagano is about 800 meters above sea level and the winters are unforgiving. It may not snow much but the chill factor was something so different from the past winters I had in Kanagawa. In Nagano, you miss one train and  you wait for more than 30 minutes out in the cold – I learned this the hard way.

Frozen Suwa Lake

Anyway, I looked at these photos and thought, wow, I never really knew at this point when the picture was taken what the future holds. I only heard about the tough life of being Japan’s salaryman – Japan’s colloquial term for office worker, considered by many to be the backbone of Japan’s economy. These employees are expected to always put the company first and known for working long hours, as much as 60 hours per week.

I’ve had difficult time at first adjusting to the whole new system. My work life had its ups and downs but hands down the most wide-opening and reflective experience I could ever have. I got sick and realized wow, life in Japan, living alone, unmarried and without any relatives is only as good till you get sick. I got back up and continued on my salaryman everyday grind for 3 years before getting married and having a child. 

Fast forward 14 years after these photos were taken, I am still an expat. However, in a different land and my story continues. Related read: Our Dubai story

How to transfer UAE visa sponsorship for children

benjamin-visa 2

Like hundreds of thousands of expatriates in Dubai, we all require a visa to work and live here. Mine and my husband’s employment visas are sponsored by our respective employers. Either of us but usually the husband (“head of the family”) can then sponsor our children and our house help.

When we first came to Dubai in 2007 because of my work, I sponsored my husband and our daughter because my husband did not have any work that time. Sponsoring husband and children in the UAE is allowed but can sometimes become a tedious job that requires extra paper work. Not all women are allowed to become family sponsors due to the fact that this is a Muslim country and the immigration department insists that the child’s sponsor be the father in all circumstances. However, in case the husband (Father) has lost job and got his visa cancelled, it will be necessary for wife (mother) to sponsor the visa, if the mother works in UAE. 

Our son, Benjamin is under his father’s sponsorship but due to changes in his employment situation, we needed to transfer the visa under my sponsorship. Pristine had been under my sponsorship since 2007.

I receive a lot of inquiries via my private email regarding this so this blog post. Hope this helps.

* Please note that when the wife becomes the sponsor, the immigration officers deal with this in a case to case basis so additional documents may be needed other than the ones listed below.

1. Original passport of child/children to be sponsored

2. Original passport of sponsor

3. No objection letter (should be typewritten as handwritten is not accepted). It should state that the current sponsor (in our case, my husband) has no objection/accepts that the visa sponsorship is transferred to the new sponsor (in our case, mine). In some cases, the immigration officer might ask for this letter in Arabic so better prepare both in English and Arabic. We were lucky they accepted ours in English.

4. Labor contract of new sponsor – The sponsor’s monthly salary shall be Dhs3,000 + accommodation or a total of Dhs4,000 as per the employment contract approved by the Ministry of Labour. The Contract to be attested from Immigration Department on payment of Dhs120.

5. Proof that husband cannot sponsor – we presented the end of contract letter from his company.

6. Birth certificate of child

7. Marriage certificate

8. Tenancy contract (accommodation rental agreement). It has to be attested through Ejari online system of Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA).  The Tenancy contract should be under the sponsor’s name. Our tenancy contract is under my husband’s name so we attached his passport copy and explained that we are living together.

9. Electricity bill (I think this is used as proof of address)

10. 1 photograph of the child in white background

1. Go to the immigration office (the main is in Jaffliya but you can also apply at the municipality office, we went to the one in Al Twar near where we live).

2. With all the required documents, approach an authorized typing center (there is a typing center in all immigration branches). Tell them whether the child is in the country or outside the country. You pay the visa fees at the typing center.

3. Once  the typing is done for the new Entry permit, approach the immigration department and present your application.

4. This is where you will be asked to see the supervisor who will assess this as a “humanitarian case”, check all your documents and HOPEFULLY sign the entry permit form. You may be asked questions as to why there is a need to transfer the visa (where is the father? What is his visa status?)

5. Once you receive the Entry Permit, if the child is inside UAE, you need to get the status changed by again approaching typing center and typing the form.

6. When that is done, approach the immigration desk again to stamp the visa.

*Medical is not required for children below the age of 18 years.

We paid Dhs 830 at the typing center. This includes Residence visa fee, transfer fee and Emirates ID.


Main Branch
Bur Dubai, Karama, Opposite Jafiliya Metro Station
Working Time: 7:30am – 8pm (Sun-Thu)
Immigration Call Centre 800 5111

Dubai International Airport (Terminal 3)
Gate No.2, Departures area
Phone: 04-707 5388
Timing: Around the clock, seven days a week (including holidays)
Services: All visa related services (including e-gate card)
NOTE: Urgent service only for new visa stamping and renewal (Courier service not available)

DNATA Emirates Building
Near Clock Tower, Deira
Phone: 04-707 5946
(Dh25 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 7:30 to 2:30pm

A’amal Center – Hyatt Regency
Hyatt Regency Hotel-Deira
Business Centre, First Floor
Phone: 04-707 5922
(Dh30 extra service charge for each transaction)
Timing: 8am to 2:30pm

Municipality Service Centre
Al Towar, Qusais, Opposite Al Towar Mall
Phone: 04-707 5162
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Bin Souqat Centre
Al Rashidiya
Phone: 04-707 5939
Timing: 7:30 to 8pm

Arabian Centre
Mirdif / Al Mizhar
Phone: 04-707 5181
Timing: 7:30am – 8pm

Working mom in the train

dubai metro

I just got to my seat at work and a quick check at my inbox, I know today’s going to be a long day. A work colleague went for his annual vacation (we get 30 days off each year) and I need to step in – do all his work on top of what I already have. No violent reactions as that’s how it works here. When I go for vacation, one of them has to do my work too. 

Before I delve in into my tasks for today, and there are so many, I had to take a few minutes to write this post.

I’ve been seriously people watching in the Metro on my commute lately. It’s a short ride, only 10 minutes to be exact but every day, there are stories to share. I usually share what I see on Twitter but today, I simply have to write it here where I wouldn’t need to care of the 140 character limit. 

I am greedy for more characters today.

As the train door started closing, a mom carrying a child, I think about my son’s age (3 years old). The boy had soft curly hair and was rubbing his eyes. He was still wearing his sleep wear and a Crocs slip-ons so anyone can tell he was just pulled off from his bed and taken outside. With an apologetic look in her eyes, the mom felt obliged to tell the person seated next to her as her boy wriggled through the seat that “I have to drop him off earlier today at a friend’s house. We have no maid. He is still very sleepy and we had no time to change his pajamas.”

This is the thing: Dubai looks so glamorous in the glossy pages of travel brochures and magazines. People constantly assume everyone who lives here is rich, driving big fancy cars and shopping like there’s no tomorrow and do not struggle daily. I started this blog to document our life in Dubai after relocating from Japan eight years ago, to show that there are normal people who commute to work everyday like I do, a working mom juggling career and taking care of kids everyday. And the scene this morning is a reminder that Dubai can be a normal place just like every where else.

When people gather and talk about their autobiographies


I was at a function a few nights ago – a party to celebrate the Japanese Emperor Akihito’s birthday hosted by the consulate of Japan in the UAE. (If you’re a new reader, it may be worth a mention that my husband is Japanese that’s why we got this invitation.) It is a yearly event celebrated and hosted by the Japanese consulates all over the world. The Japanese community is not big here in Dubai so most of the people know each other. And like any other functions in a mostly expat community like Dubai/UAE, the most common question never fail to come up: “How long have you been living here?”

“It’s been a crazy six months.”

“Ten years in January!”

“Just over a year and loving it so much!”

“I just arrived last month.”

“35 years.”

We arrived in Dubai one desert winter day in January 2007. In a month, it will be eight years for us. How has Dubai change in 8/10/35 years? Let’s see, things change in Dubai every 5 minutes (we’re sort of living in a big construction site) so you can imagine the different stories you’ll hear from people who’s been living here for the past 35 years. The kind of stories that make you want to stop whatever you’re doing and sit with them as they narrate experiences and the things they’ve seen, how there was only one building standing in Sheikh Zayed Road or when there were still camels roaming on the main roads.

Listening to these stories of old Dubai is like playing a movie in black and white film.


It is in these functions where I tell people about our Dubai story. As expats, we think we lead an fairly interesting life, and we do, we are like vagabonds scattered in different parts of the world, captured by the pulsating heart of our new ‘home‘. But when you gather a group of expats with with different stories to tell, you’d be looking at a potpourri of many lives – some came here for money, some to taste the curiosity of their sun-drenched romantic dreams while others were propelled by mere sense of adventure, to live a life without what-if’s (that would be us!).

I’m proud of how we’ve come so far – humbled by the challenges we faced and feel awesome for the things we’ve overcome.

Sometimes all the lavish, sinful food and alcohol (and socializing…I am an INFJ) make me hesitate to go to such functions but the chance to hear different stories from new acquaintances and strangers who could become possible friends – that is always a pleasure. It makes me smile when I think back of our time when we first started here and hopeful and excited of what’s yet to come.

5 Things you need to know about the work culture in Dubai

work culture

Working in Dubai can become quite an enjoyable and learning experience

The Burj Khalifa, Dubai Expo 2020, Burj Al Arab and many more things. This is what strikes our mind, as soon as we hear the name “Dubai”. A land full of exotic destinations and people from all the corners of the world- Dubai stands as one of the strongest alternatives to lead a healthy and wealthy professional life.

One of the most flourishing places in the world and the most populous emirate in the UAE, Dubai has enticed millions of expatriates from all over the world to settle and lead a peaceful life. Since the regime decided to shift from an oil reliant economy to one which is diversified and has a balanced approach towards the future, job opportunities in this Emirate have considerably increased.

But what about the work culture? Is it the same as everywhere? Are there any specific things you need to keep in mind about the work culture in Dubai?

The possible answers to these questions can be found in the points listed below.

1. Employment Contract

As soon as you secure a job offer in Dubai, this will be the most important thing to you. According to the UAE labor law, your employer has to provide you with the employment contract prior to your arrival in Dubai or once you get accepted for a job here. The contract includes every detail regarding your job profile, salary, allowances, perks etc.

2. Working hours

The UAE labor law states that a person in any occupation can work for up to 8 hours a day. Overtime remuneration has to be paid to the employee from the ninth hour. If the overtime falls between 9 pm to 4am then wages equal to the salary with an increase of at least 50 percent have to be paid to the employee. (Source 1, Source 2)

3. Work ethics

Work ethics are different from country to country. In Dubai they are quite different to those followed in any corner of the world. Right from the most conservative style of clothing to a specific polite way of greeting your co-workers, Dubai has the most different set of work etiquette. While working in Dubai you’ll also have to avoid scheduling any meeting or convention on Friday, which is generally referred as ‘Juma’ meaning the prayer day.

4. Salary

According to reputed websites the average salary for various professions per year in Dubai (as of 15th Nov 2014) are found as listed below.

  • Accountant : AED 72,175
  • Business development manager : AED 213,235
  • Civil Engineer : AED 107,706
  • Marketing Manager : AED 211,467
  • Mechanical Engineer : AED 102,592
  • Regional Sales Manager : AED 299,865
  • Software Engineer : AED 116,428

Remuneration in Dubai is found to be quite high as compared to any other city in the world. If you are a contract worker, you’ll also be awarded an indemnity which is nothing but the basic salary excluding the bonuses, at the end of your contract period multiplied by the number of years of service and other factors. If you manage to stick with a single organization for a considerable period of time, then you might be able to manage a nice financial cushion to live a comfortable life in Dubai or back in your home country (or at least until you find another job!).

5. Entitlements (Perks!)

As soon as you start working in Dubai you’ll find yourself to possess various entitlements. The foremost ones being, 22 days of paid vacation in a year, 15 days of paid vacation in case of medical illness followed by a half-paid vacation for the next 30 days and end of service gratuity which is up for a claim, as soon as you complete a year with the organization. In addition to this, according to the UAE labor law, you will also have the right to claim for transportation, accommodation and medical reimbursements.

Expats who have worked in Dubai have found it to be one of the most hospitable environments to live in. Good luck!

Job Seeker Alert: Important Things To Consider Before Applying for a Job in Dubai

job search

Just after I came back from vacation, I received a bunch of emails from readers of this blog asking how to go about finding/landing a job in Dubai so I thought I’d share some important things to consider before you hop on that plane!

Do share your job seeking tips in the comments.

Top photo credit

The UAE witnesses the arrival of thousands of expatriates every year. Most of these expats come searching for job opportunities in Dubai. However, before applying for a job an expat must acquaint himself with ways of this dynamic city. The following points will help all job seeking expats get familiar with the region and understand what it takes to apply for jobs in Dubai.

1. The time of the year

desert summer

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Ideally, you should start exploring your options between the months of September and May (barring December). This is the best time for job hunting in Dubai. You must avoid carrying out your search in the months of December, June, July and August as the big bosses, who are also the key decision makers when it comes to recruitment, are usually on vacation.

Important days and events like Ramadan, Moharrum-ul-Haram should also be avoided for job search as most Mu’mineen businessmen would be travelling and will be unavailable to interview you.

2. Duration of your stay

Most expats come to Dubai on tourist visa, seeking to find a good job within a month. This doesn’t always help as one month is not adequate to find a relevant and well-paying job. You should try and visit Dubai on an extendable visa so that if required you can extend your stay (maximum of another 30 days + 10 days grace period before you should exit the country).

3. Medical Tests

In case you have been a patient of a serious infectious disease like tuberculosis, you could be disapproved for a work permit and residence visa. Despite receiving an employment visa, you will be asked to return home once your medical test results are out. The UAE government screen applicants for HIV (Aids), Hepatitis B and Tuberculosis. So, there is no point wasting time, money and energy when you know you will be denied the chance of living and working in Dubai.

4. It is not very easy to switch jobs

It may be easy for you to switch from a banking job in London to a banking job in Dubai. You may even manage to land yourself a better pay package. But switching jobs isn’t a walk in the park in Dubai. The same ease of transition may not be felt when you move from one job to another within Dubai. This happens due to the rules of sponsorship. So before you grab an opportunity provided to you, make sure you consider it for a long term (at least 2 years to be exact).

5. Working on your visit visa is illegal

office work

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Do not try to work when you first arrive on a tourist or visit visa. You may find some traders asking you to work for them just to evaluate your performance. Do not fall for it as even though some of them may be genuine, others could be using you only as a temporary replacement. They will use your services for the time being and will leave you in the lurch as soon as their permanent employee comes back from vacation. You would be left jobless and wouldn’t have the time to find a new job either. To top that, it is illegal in work on a tourist visa.

6. Optimize the available resources

Professional networking sites like LinkedIn have always proved to be useful for job seekers. Use them wisely and you can get in touch with some significant people who may have good leads. There are also some effective job search portals that you can register on to find contextual openings. However, avoid recruitment agencies that demand payment for registration as they are likely to be scams.

7. Enhance your skills beforehand

Every job requires a certain set of skills. Today, the most basic skills for a job in a good company include proficiency in MS Office and email. Make sure you learn these before applying for a job. In case you are not well-versed with them, it would be cheaper to learn them in countries like India or Pakistan or Philippines, if you happen to hail from there. If you do, you can enrol in a proper course back home to brush up your skills. You can do the same to improve your English as that is the business language in Dubai.

8. Contact recruiters in advance

It is wiser to carry out research and activate your network of family, friends and acquaintances way before you arrive in Dubai. Pre-planning gives you an edge over other expats who are unaware and struggling. It will save you precious time and will let effectively search for work from day one. Most job seekers fall into the holiday mode and keep a relaxed approach when they arrive. Do not waste even a single day! Remember to focus on the job search as soon you reach. You don’t want to be making frantic calls a few days prior to your visa expiry.

9. The question regarding your expected salary

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To answer this question, you ought to understand your skills and put a value to them. Most employees will ask you for a figure of expected salary. Do not demand a package on the basis of your need to lead a good life. You should base it on the actualities of the labor market in the country. So understand the job market and evaluate yourself. A very small figure can decrease your perceived worth to a potential recruiter, while if you quote a very large amount your resume won’t even be considered for the interview.

10. Attested certificates and documents

When you finally manage to get a job, your new company will require attested certificates and other documents to apply for a visa. The attestation process takes up to six weeks or even more. If you are confident that will land yourself a job in Dubai, then remember to keep your documents organized and attested.

Now I have this article to attach in the email for every “how do I go about looking for work in Dubai?” email that I get!