The career opportunities in the Middle East

Gulf has been one of the first regions in the world to accept with open arms migrants from India and offer lucrative career opportunities.

This is much before the IT revolution across the world and the booming BPO businesses, which has brought unprecedented job opportunities in India. The fact that even today, the Gulf region continues to be an attractive destination is a testimony for the prosperity of the region and growing economies here. The gulf region or GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] comprises of six countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sultanate of Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar. While all the countries are growing rapidly much beyond the traditional oil sector and offering career opportunities, the most attractive destination continues to be Dubai in particular and the UAE in general.

The growth of Dubai in the last few years has been phenomenal and is today touted as a top destination for Business and Tourism. Consequently, there are plenty of career opportunities here irrespective of your area of specialization. However, being in Dubai for last few years I have seen the heavy influx of people from India, who often land here without a proper plan or in-depth knowledge of the country. This article attempts to give information to a potential candidate seeking to migrate here. The details given here are indicative and the reader is advised to do his own research additionally on all aspects before deciding on the career move.

Overview of opportunities

The UAE economy is well diversified with Oil, Trading, Tourism, Infrastructure, Manufacturing and Services contributing substantially to the economy. The range of opportunities is wide spread laterally as well as vertically. It’s therefore no surprise that we see young graduates fresh out of college moving here as often as people in mid career range, as this land of opportunities, accepts all.

There are also certain new sectors which have opened up in a big way throwing immense business and employment opportunities. These sectors are in Advertising, Media and Publishing through the Dubai Media City, Education through Knowledge Village and Academic City and IT through Silicon Oasis. The typical positions which seem to have maximum opportunities start right from Receptionists, Secretaries, Sales and Marketing Executives, Junior and Middle level Management positions across all functional areas. However, the degree of opportunities for positions in Sales and Marketing is much higher and a clear bias towards this function is evident. This is natural, because UAE is a major trading center and a market where the ‘Consumer is the King’. Performance based commissions are generally high as also profit sharing for senior management personnel.

Basic requirements

While each industry and position does have its own specific job profile, for most positions, it’s necessary to be at least a graduate, if not more. Please also note that your educational certificate based on which you seek employment, has to be attested by UAE embassy in India. While Industry experience is required, preference is always for local or gulf experience, which is considered more valuable, even if it is for few years. This should however not dishearten any body moving out for the first time, in view of the large number of opportunities here.

There are certain minimum salary requirements for you to sponsor your family including your parents, which must be considered while evaluating a career move.

Language and cultural fit

This is a land of multi cultural environment and people from a large number of countries and different religions live here in perfect harmony. While English is generally well accepted, if you are fluent in Hindi and or Malayalam, it would be an advantage, especially for careers in Sales and Marketing. If you happen to know even basic Arabic, you can be sure to have a distinct advantage. It’s good to polish your English, especially if you can get rid of some typical Indian accent.

Personality and grooming

There is no doubt that with a high standard of living, your personality and grooming takes a predominant position in the selection process here. Therefore, do give attention to this factor in general and it would help people at all levels to add some formal wear in your wardrobe [For example suits for either sex]. Please refer an earlier article in this series published by Deccan Herald for further guidance. [How to face a job interview?].

Preparation and research

Rather sadly, a lot of people land up here without a basic preparation or research. You should do your own research into all relevant factors such as opportunities in your specific functional area, cost of living and other important factors before taking your flight. Apart from checking with your friends and relatives, you can use the web extensively and check various government and other sites including media to get accurate and comprehensive data and information.

Living in UAE

  1. Standard of life: Living in UAE is very comfortable and the standard of living is high and comparable to the best in the world. Other than accommodation, cost of living is low and hence relatively high savings potential. There are best of shopping malls and multiplexes [with Hindi movies released generally two days before in India], public parks and other recreational facilities. The cities are clean and well maintained.
  2. Education: There are opportunities and facilities created for quality education right from nursery to higher secondary schools [including CBSE/ICSC] and Colleges for higher education.
  3. Health and welfare: There are adequate number of hospitals and clinics offering the best of medical facilities. The cost is high but affordable since health insurance is mandatory.
  4. Safety and security: UAE is one of the safest countries in the world even for single women. The crime rates are far lower than most developed countries including India and the laws are tough and rightly so.
  5. Banking and insurance: The financial sector has developed well with a large number of local and multinational companies operating to the benefit of the citizens offering insurance, loans and credit cards at competitive terms. Transfer of funds to India is easy, hassle free and currently there are no limits or taxes imposed in India to funds earned and remitted from abroad.
  6. Accommodation: Generally cost of accommodation has been rising and relatively high forcing citizens to stay in distant suburbs. However, the market is now showing signs of stabilizing on the cost factor. For single individuals of either sex, there are also inexpensive accommodation options.
  7. Property: Expatriates can now own property in designated areas and projects which come along with the attraction of a residence visa. This has led to a boom in the Construction and Property market.
  8. Hotels and restaurants: There are hotels and restaurants to suit every budget and taste. Indian cuisine is popular and there are restaurants offering different cuisines including Malabar / Chettinad / Andra / Udupi. Cost of food in restaurants in general is affordable at a very high quality.
  9. Climate: UAE has extreme heat in summer and a surprisingly mild and pleasant winter. The summer between April-October is hot and humid but does not make a much difference since the life style permits mostly an air-conditioned environment whether you are at office or home or driving. Pollution here is at very minimum level and is a pleasant change from high and unbearable pollution levels in most of Indian cities.
  10. Driving and traffic: Cars are widely used here and by a recent estimate one in four own cars. Car manufacturers from across the world compete and the cost of cars are much cheaper than in India. The traffic in UAE in major cities such as Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi is dense like in any metro, but disciplined and always moving. The traffic here moves on the right and one need to attend driving classes to take a license. The Indian driving license is not valid here.
  11. Taxes and duties: UAE is a tax free economy which is a very big attraction. There are no income taxes, sales tax, octroi etc and is a free economy with products coming from every part of the world often at prices lower than in India.

Getting a job

In order to get a job to match your profile, you need to take a combination of various actions. There are a large number of placement consultants and most of them have a facility to register on their website. You could also check their websites frequently for opportunities. The local newspapers have appointments supplements coming up practically everyday which can be referred. For very junior levels and temporary jobs, one can refer the classified sections of the newspapers. You can also place free ads in the classifieds offering your services. However, there is a limitation to the progress you can make sitting in a remote place and you should be lucky to get placed in India, for UAE.

In general the above applies to other Gulf countries too. For traveling to UAE, you would need a passport with ECNR and a valid visa. Please approach your travel agent or the UAE embassy for further information and guidance. Emirates is a major world class airline operating from many Indian cities including Bangalore and can also give you valuable information.

With globalization, the world is getting smaller and opportunities better. If you have the right skill sets, determination and attitude to succeed, no one can stop you. Go ahead and decide your destiny. The future is in your hands.

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V Pradeep Kumar

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