Working in Abu Dhabi



The capital city of Abu Dhabi is not only home to towering buildings and grand hotels; it is also the Mecca for thousands of expatriates looking for employment and prosperous future. 

Despite the efforts for ‘Emiratisation' which refers to the local government's initiative to prioritise the employment of UAE nationals, the opportunities for expats remain abundant. The international community remains the major contributor to Abu Dhabi's workforce. In fact, there are about 2.6 million expatriates employed in the UAE, and in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, migrant workers compose 74.4% of the population. To further affirm the significance of the expat community, according to a Reuters' survey, the UAE is the third largest sender of remittances in the world. 

Top Industries and Job Opportunities 

Abu Dhabi has the largest share of hydrocarbon wealth in the entire UAE (95% of oil and 92% of gas), making it the largest oil producer in the country. This translates to a need for more workers in the oil industry. In recent years, the world has also turned its eyes to Abu Dhabi for its fast developing real estate and tourism industry. 

"Dubai seems to be faster than Abu Dhabi for processing paperwork. One tip would be to check up on it regularly."- Farida Israil, Expat in Abu Dhabi, UAE

No wonder that the unemployment rate in Abu Dhabi remains low at 3.7% in 2015. This recent diversification of the city's economy has generated jobs for thousands of expats. The capital city has veered away from the traditional newspaper and magazine ads and established a website called Jobs Abu Dhabi, to attract expat workers. This site provides around 3,000 jobs, for various industries such as teaching, call centres, and IT. 

Average Salary and Work Hours 

The minimum wage in Abu Dhabi is AED 1,000 or around USD 270. However, this figure can still vary depending on your job position and qualifications. For example, the average monthly salary in this city for someone who works in security or law enforcement is AED 3,600 or USD 980 while jobs in the manufacturing industry pay an average salary of AED 4,250 or USD 1,150 per month. As of 2009, the government started working on improving labour laws to designate a wage protection system to ensure that salaries are paid on time and by what is stated in the employees' contracts. 

Job Category

Average Monthly Salary

Advertising/Graphic Design

AED 10,500 or USD 2,800

Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology

AED 10,900 or USD 2,900

Science and Technical Services

AED 13,200 or USD 3,600

Teaching and Education

AED 17,700 or USD 4,800


AED 33,400 or USD 9,000


AED 6,400 or USD 1,700


In Abu Dhabi, the general policy of working hours per week is mandated by The Executive Council of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi-based on the nature of work. Though, the city applies a 48-hour workweek. Work can start as early as 7 or 8 in the morning and end at either 3 or 4 in the afternoon.  

Abu Dhabi’s Business Culture 

Since Abu Dhabi is now a mixture of communities from all over the world, the culture is somehow more open and flexible in comparison to the rest of the Middle Eastern nations. However, as an expat, it is still essential to remember that Islam is the religion observed in the city, and thus, these practices should be respected. The Islamic tradition places great emphasis on generosity, respect, and modesty. Thus, make sure that you adjust your work wardrobe to their more conservative nature. 

Establishing good business relations are important for the people of Abu Dhabi, so make sure to accept social invitations for parties or gatherings. Do not schedule meetings during prayer time, especially during Ramadan, as these times are sacred to Muslims. Keep in mind customary greetings like "As-salam Alaikum," (peace be upon you) to which the reply is "Wa Alaikum as-salam," (and upon you be peace). 

If there were just one reason to choose Abu Dhabi for an exciting new life as an expat, it would have to be the endless employment possibilities in this city. 


Expat Services in Abu Dhabi