Expats continue to move to Dubai in large numbers, often lured by the promise of excellent salaries and luxury living.
As the second largest emirate in the United Arab Emirates after Abu Dhabi, Dubai was once considered a barren landscape in the oil-rich Gulf, but is now a thriving metropolis, attracting thousands of new residents to its shores each month.
Only about 15 percent of Dubai's population of around 3.1 million are Emirati – the other 85 percent are expats and migrant workers.
Historically, companies sourcing talent to work in Dubai were required to offer generous relocation packages as an incentive for workers to decamp to the desert. Now, with the exception of very senior level positions, those days are all but gone. No one, it seems, needs much incentive to make the move to Dubai and it is becoming increasingly unusual to find fully subsidized accommodation, furniture/shipping allowances, private schooling, family vehicles and other historically appealing expat perks.
Employers should note however a new employment law was recently passed in Dubai and set to come into effect on August 28, 2019. This article from the Khaleej Times provides insight into the elements of the new law. Up to now, the law leaned more favorably to employers than employees.
"The law centers around the necessity to balance the needs of employers and employees in the DIFC while maintaining a robust framework of employment standards that contribute to the success of the Centre.
Employer-focused provisions include expansion of employee duties, reduction of the statutory sick pay, limiting the application of mandatory late penalty payments for end-of-service settlements and recognising settlement agreements between employers and employees."
Will the law help to attract even more talent to Dubai?
Any expat doing business in the UAE will find themselves one foreigner in a sea of many. The vast majority of the country's population is made up of those from abroad and, as a result, the working world is a mosaic of multinational influences.
The UAE is a relatively easy country to do business in, as reflected in many international business surveys. Most notably, the country was ranked an impressive 11th out of 190 countries in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Survey for 2018.
Leaves and penalties Employee-focussed provisions include the introduction of five days of paternity leave and penalties for discrimination. Penalties have also been introduced to ensure adherence to basic conditions of employment, visa and residency sponsorship. The new law was subject to substantial research and global benchmarking, as well as thorough public consultation, which helped shape the law to ensure that the DIFC remains the most sophisticated and business-friendly Common Law jurisdiction in the region. The new law can be viewed at: www.difc.ae/business/laws-regulations/legal-database