FAQ – Working in the Middle East

Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions that can help answer some of the questions you may have as you make your decision to work in the Middle East.

Why would I want to work in the Middle East?

Working in the Middle East - Lifestyle
Working in the Middle East job markets bares many benefits for South Africans, such as:

– Tax-free income
– Free, furnished, air-conditioned accommodations (or housing allowance)
– Medical coverage
– Generous vacation time
– Easy access to exciting travel destinations in Europe, Africa, and Asia
– Free flights
– Opportunity to immerse yourself in an ancient culture
– Opportunity to work with people from around the world

What is the currency?

Dirhams. 1 United Arab Emirates Dirham equals approx 3.21 South African Rand (according to current exchange rate)

How am I paid?

You are paid monthly by direct deposit into a local bank. You are paid in UAE Dirhams (Dh), also referred to as Arab Emirates Dirhams (AED).

What does “tax-free income” mean?

No income tax is deducted in the UAE, and there is no sales tax.

Do people keep their money in their UAE bank accounts?

People transfer their money off-shore, since no interest is paid on accounts in the UAE. Any bank will transfer money for you, as this is common practice for expatriates. Most people only keep basic spending money in their UAE account.

How do I get money home?

You can send money home by direct transfer from your bank account or using transfer companies like western union.

Can I use my ATM and Credit card in the UAE?

Yes. ATM machines accept cards from all over the world via systems like Cirrus and Plus. You can also get an ATM card for your local account and all major credit cards (e.g. VISA, American Express) are used throughout the UAE, but not all shops accept them.

Is English spoken in the hospitals?

Throughout the Middle East, Arabic is the shared and national language, however, English is the working language in the hospitals. Translators, and ward clerks who act as translators, are always available to assist in communicating with patients who do not speak English. Healthcare staff quickly picks up basic Arabic phrases related to their jobs.


Working in the Middle East - Religion
The Middle East is a Muslim state but is tolerant of other religions. Residents who profess a different faith are allowed to perform their religious duties such as attending worship services or mass in churches or chapels. The government, however, disallows overt religious activities that may interfere with Islam such as handing out evangelical leaflets near a mosque or in other designated public places.

Who will my co-workers be?

Your co-workers will be from around the world: Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanese, South Africa, the Philippines, Malaysia, and more.

Where will I live?

You will live in hospital-provided accommodation or you can use a housing allowance to rent/lease locally.

What is the social life like?

There is a lot to do in the Middle East. Recreational activities include: shopping festivals; boat cruises; desert safaris; horse/camel racing; golf; sand-boarding; etc

Working in the Middle East -  FoodWhat is the food like?

The UAE has a wide variety of restaurants, allowing expatriates to go on a culinary world tour, sampling Arabic, Italian, French, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Mexican, Turkish, Indian, Pakistani, etc. cuisine. Supermarkets provide all sorts of food which you are accust
omed to buying at home. Fruit and vegetable souqs (markets) provide excellent fresh produce, although fresh produce is also readily available at supermarkets.

Can women drive in the UAE?

Yes. Women are allowed to drive in the UAE when in the UAE on a Residency permit. They first need to obtain a UAE driver’s license. When in the UAE on a visit visa, they can drive on an international driving permit.

What television channels can I get in the UAE?

You can purchase a package of cable TV services that includes stations such as CNN, BBC, the Movie Channel, etc. Packages are not expensive.

Are there any English newspapers?

There are three: Gulf News, the Khaleej Times, and The Gulf Today

Is the internet available?

A person can apply for internet access from home once they have obtained residency status and obtained a personal phone line. There are also internet cafes in the cities and computers at the hospital. All internet traffic in the UAE is processed through centralized servers that filter content that is contrary to Islamic values, so some sites will not be available, such as those with sexually explicit content, some entertainment sites, etc.

Is it safe?

The Middle East as a whole has a relatively low crime rate.

How long are the contracts?

Most contracts that are offered are for a minimum of 24 months.

Can I take my family with?

Unfortunately you cannot take your family with you as most positions require staff to have to travel alone, although more senior positions allow for families.

Can I come home for holidays?

Yes, you are free to leave UAE during your vacations.

What is available in the UAE?

Working in the Middle East - Market Place
Pretty much everything:
Alcohol – although the UAE is a Muslim country, purchasing and drinking alcohol in a licensed club, bar, or restaurant is legal for non-Muslims who are over 21. To buy alcohol for home consumption one must have a personal liquor license, which can only be obtained once the person has residency status, which can take 4-8 weeks.
Clothing – “regular” clothing, and high-end designer clothing and sportswear is easy to find.
Bathing Suits – these are easier to find in the UAE than in Saudi Arabia, but you will want to bring at least one with you.
Electronics – electronic stores abound, selling the latest in computers, audio, and video equipment. Videos and DVDs are also available, but these may have been censored.
Jewellery – jewellery shopping in the gold souqs (marketplace) is very popular for expatriates (and locals) and rarely does an expat leave without a sizable gold collection.
English-Language Books – English reading material can be found at book stores and grocery stores.

How much will it cost me?

– Application of Transcripts: R300 – R1500
– Good Standing Certificate: R1500
– Legalizing Documents: R1300 – R3000 depending on the amount of documents
– Courier Fees: R500

Who does the nursing registration and the visa application process?

The facility will help you with your registration and the visa application.

How long will it take?

Once you have been offered a position, the Hospitals generally allow for 9 months for you to get there. Please also refer to the recruitment process.

For any more questions, please do not hesitate to Contact Us!

View our UAE Job board to start your journey for working in the Middle East