The digital market in Dubai

Moving overseas to work can be exciting, but it’s a big decision. Our partner agency in Dubai has put together some answers to the most common questions people considering a move to Dubai ask.


What’s the market like out there?

Dubai is an exciting and vibrant place to work especially within digital. Whilst the local market is relatively small with many people knowing each other, it is growing rapidly and is the hot spot for digital activity across the EMEA region. The digital industry is slightly less advanced compared with the UK market which means any candidate looking to move out there will either move up the ranks quickly or be in charge of other new developments whereas they may have to wait another 12-18 months to achieve this level in their current role in the UK.

This has its pros and cons as technology and general internal systems are less developed but this presents a unique challenge to someone moving from the UK and they have the chance to make their mark from day one. Local candidates with digital experience are in short supply so those who are hired locally tend to be employed not just for their digital knowledge but also for their fluency in Arabic.  Once clients approach us it’s usually to fill in the digital gaps they need to fill within their teams.

It’s a rapidly growing region and a rare chance to work with EMEA based companies who embrace digital fully and often Dubai is considered the main hub of digital activity within the EMEA region.

How much experience do I need to get a job in Dubai?

Depending on the roles, most candidates will need a minimum of two years’ experience for the client to justify organising a visa. It’s also very important that applicants haven’t hopped around from role to role as clients want to see commitment.

Do I need to go to Dubai to interview?

Not necessarily as Skype and video conferencing are the standard methods of interviewing. If the role is  particularly senior then the client will fly them out to meet with the team they will be managing after an  offer is made. Some candidates have already been to Dubai hence why they are applying in the first place but a  client is more than happy for people to fly out to see them, although this is usually expensed by the individual.

How long does the whole process take?

Unless there is some delay internally within the company, the interviewing process is extremely quick in Dubai  so candidates shouldn’t be alarmed if an offer is made after the second skype interview, occasionally offers  have been made after the first but this is rare. The duration of the process is usually 2-4 weeks max. Once the  offer is made then the client will start to organize the visa for  which an attested degree certificate is needed.   We often make candidates aware that they should have the degree ready before interviewing as being unable to locate it can delay the process quite a bit.

Is a move to Dubai a good way to broaden out my skills?

It depends on personal goals, a lot of applicants want to move to Dubai for very different reasons; change of lifestyle, or they have visited before and have friends in the region, or recent changes in their life have made them consider leaving the UK for a couple of years.

You can be assured that moving out of the UK and working in Dubai will not affect your chances of securing a new role back in the UK if you decide to return. A position in Dubai will see your skill set broaden in general as mentioned previously as the industry is not as mature so will be given a unique chance to move up the ranks very quickly.

Will I get relocations costs covered?

Depending on the level of role, usually yes. The relocation costs include: flight out to Dubai, two weeks’ paid    accommodation by the employer and a return flight each year. They is a huge ex pat community who share  flats initially whilst they get their bearings so you will find there are people on hand to help you secure a flat  within Dubai. If you want to move any items over to Dubai then Pickfords is the usually preferred company and  some clients will pay for this services (again depending on the seniority of the role). You need to put down a  larger deposit for flats but again this is something the company can help you with and often you just pay them back over a longer period of time. Dubai clients are incredibly supportive and are there to support you at every  part of the process.

Who covers the visa cost?

The client covers the costs of the visa. All you need to supply is a copy of your passport and an attested degree certificate.

What’s the client side market like out there?

The client side market is developing but most roles are agency side as this is where the business growth is and where UK skills are needed.

How easy will it be for me to come back to the UK?

The experience is transferable. We’ve seen a number of candidates moving back and landing good roles at great agencies in the UK. Also, after working overseas, you will have multicultural experience and will have much more to offer to your new employer. The question is: would you actually want to move back?

Is it more relaxed that the UK market?

It probably is, during weekends and the Christmas break. It really depends on what you are after. A typical weekend includes relaxing near pools, enjoying first class buffets on a Friday and barbeques are the norm. However, it’s still business as usual and deadlines, targets still need to be achieved.

What factors do I need to consider before I look for a job in the Dubai market?

  1.  Am I ready to move away from my family and friends?
  2. What do I have to offer to a new employer and what do I expect career wise?
  3. Do I have any property, any other commitments, can I rent it out, sell?
  4. Why do I want to move to Dubai? It shouldn’t just be for the amazing weather and tax free salary!

Are the digital jobs in the Middle East based in Dubai?

Mostly yes, although roles come up in Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Saudi Arabia (although the latter is usually limited to which candidates can apply due to strict social codes)

What’s the most desired skillset?

Digital experience in demand comprises media planning and buying, ppc and seo. Social media and mobile are  growing areas but these roles come up less frequently as the performance focused roles. If you are a Search  Manager, Media Planner/buyer, SEO Manager then you’ll find a range of roles on offer to you.

Why would I want to move?

Despite the inclement weather we are all used to here in the UK, your reason for moving to Dubai shouldn’t be  just for the high temperatures and tax free salary.  It gets incredibly hot mid-summer and temperatures can  reach 50 degrees. Whilst your salary is tax free, Dubai is not a cheap place to live if you want to live the high life.    However, London is also expensive so far most the transition isn’t much of surprise. The real reason for moving      should be to  gain experience within an exuberant and exciting market in a growing region. It offers a superb  chance to move up the ranks quickly, gain exposure to EMEA based clients and be given a lot more  responsibility than if you remained in a stagnant role in the UK.

If you’d like more information about working in Dubai or the Middle East, just get in touch and we’ll put you in touch with one of our contacts who’s working out there now.