Opportunities UAE
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This article is written by Sandeep Bhalothia, He is an alumnus of Jindal Global Law School (India) and is currently working as Head of Legal at UAE based startup. His areas of interest are dispute resolution (arbitration and mediation) advisory, technology and UAE employment law.

I first came to Dubai in 2017 when I was selected by The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute (Harvard Business School) for a fully funded multi-disciplinary training prog. And truth be told, I fell in love with this place.

During my training and for the remaining time in law school, I decided that I will do everything in my hand to get some more exposure in this jurisdiction. On 1st June 2018 (within four days of giving my last exam of law school) I was in Dubai on a training contract with a boutique law firm, but now I have shifted to a full-time in-house role where I get the opportunity to lead the legal department of a Start-up.

Since 2017 till date, I have made a lot of mistakes, miscalculations, and friends but above all, I have learned a bit about the legal market in UAE, and that is what I will aim to share in this article. The focus of the article will be on finding a job opportunity in the UAE.

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Few things might work for you and other stuff might not. There is no silver bullet when it comes to finding the right career and the right employer. Therefore, please do your independent research, and speak with more people. Kindly note that this article was written keeping in mind the Indian law students or recent Indian law graduates and therefore might not be of much use to experienced lawyers or students and graduates from other jurisdictions.

I will be covering below topics in this article:

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of working in the UAE,
  • What UAE employers generally look for in the prospective candidate?
  • How LinkedIn can be used for hunting opportunities in UAE,
  • A list with a brief description of UAE specific job portals,
  • Some additional tips for CV drafting, job search, networking, training and resource materials for further research.

  • Advantages of working in UAE:

    1. Higher Salary: Generally speaking, the salary of lawyers working in the UAE is higher than that in India. For some, there might be a significant difference, even three to four times more than what they were getting in India, and for others, the higher salary might not be substantial when other factors are included. Higher salary also means higher saving, provided you are good at managing your financials.
    2. Tax-Free Income: There is no tax on income in the UAE. So, whatever you earn goes directly to your pocket, no cuts for the government.
    3. Culture: UAE has the highest percentage of immigrants in the world. In Dubai, more than 90% of the population is immigrant. While working in UAE, you will get the chance to meet lawyers and businessperson from different countries like Egypt, Oman, United Kingdom, United States of America, Syria, New Zeeland, Pakistan, South Africa etc. You will get a chance to meet lawyers who were educated and trained under both civil and common law system. This also helps you in gaining a broader perspective of things in life and at work.
    4. Quality of Life: The quality of life is better in the UAE compared to India. By this I meant public transport, safety and security, health insurance, quality of food, places to visit and things to do on weekends, five days working (compare it with the working requirements in top Indian law firms), integration of technology to ease your life etc.
    5. Exposure to International Working Environment: While working here in UAE, you will get the opportunity to work on international matters, laws of other jurisdictions, international arbitration, international business expansions etc. Many companies have their base or operation headquartered in UAE and operate in various other jurisdiction as LLC or vice versa.
    6. Proximity to India: The flight time from Dubai to Delhi is roughly four hours, and there are numerous flights between these two cities on a daily basis. In case of an emergency, you can easily make a short trip to India over a weekend.

  • Disadvantages of Working in UAE:

    1. Away from Home: Not sure about others, but despite all the advantages of working in UAE, I still miss India, my friends in India and family. Sometimes work can be challenging, and after office, all that you wish is some peaceful time with your family.
    2. Cost of Living: Despite the high income of lawyers in the UAE, it is still difficult to afford a good place for rent. The rent in UAE is high (especially in Dubai), and a significant part of your salary will go towards covering it. And the same goes for food (especially if you are eating out). Better learn some cooking before landing here.
    3. Cultural Difference: UAE is one of the most liberal Arab nations in the world; however, that doesn’t mean you can take its liberal approach for granted. It would be best to have at most respect for the local law and culture. But this is not necessarily a disadvantage if you are generally a law-abiding citizen and have a general respect for local culture.
    4. HEAT: UAE gets hot during summers. This is not a disadvantage for those who come from Palodhi, Rajasthan!

    5. Job Security: The jobs in UAE, specifically in the legal sector, are not as secure as in India. There is a fierce competition when it comes to initial hiring as a lot of international lawyers from Asia, Arab, European and Western countries will be competing for the same opportunity. A slight bearish in the market and you will see lawyers been fired (especially in small companies) from to reduce the cost.

What Employers Generally Look in Prospective Candidates?

1. Experience: I feel, UAE is a more mature market when it comes to recruiting fresh graduates. Employers mostly prefer experienced candidates (even if that is one year of PQE). They want candidates to have a basic understanding of working independently and be more reliable instead of being continuously supervised. It is difficult for a fresh Indian law graduate to directly get into a law firm or take an in-house position in a company.

They want you to know some real work. Obviously, there will be a focus on training and mentorship, but a fresh graduate will have more chances of getting employment in India compared to in UAE. In India, you will notice that the majority of the hiring is done either via Zero Day Placements or through Pre-Placement Offers. Indian employers know that they need to first invest a lot of time in training fresh graduates before getting them to deliver some real work.

But it is not the same in the UAE. Majority of the employers are more interested in hiring an experienced lawyer than a fresh graduate. In the UAE, the majority of the employees move from one employer to another in search of a better salary. Therefore some UAE employers don’t want to land in a situation where they train a fresh graduate only to find out that he/she will move to a new employer after six months of training.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean fresh graduates from India doesn’t stand any chance of breaking into this jurisdiction. There are opportunities for them. However, they have to start from the most junior positions and have patience. You might have to take up roles like Research Assistant, Legal Assistant, Research Associate, Law Clerk or even work as an intern for months before you get a proper legal designation.

Your experience through internships done in India and some real post-graduation work will definitely add value to your application. Don’t underestimate the importance of work exposure.

2. Registered as Advocate: Generally speaking, the Employers here prefer a western-qualified lawyer or an Arabic lawyer. However, if you are not registered as an Advocate in India under the Indian Advocates Act, 1961, then your chances are further diminished. Employers prefer registration in your home jurisdiction as it gives credibility and recognition. And if you are dual-qualified or registered in western-jurisdiction, then you will definitely get a head start.

3. Local Presence: It goes without saying that your physical presence in UAE at the time of job hunt will definitely give you an advantage over others who are located in India and are applying for opportunities from there. Some employers don’t even bother to look at applications from non-UAE resident applicants (especially if you are applying from India). But that doesn’t mean it is IMPOSSIBLE to get in UAE from India. I have seen people proving me wrong on this point.

4. Research and Drafting Skills: If you have done some basic research on UAE’s court system and representation rights before it, then you will know that being a resident of UAE with a legal degree doesn’t guarantee you right to represent a client before all UAE Courts. This makes it difficult (if not impossible) for the fresh graduates who aim to make their career in litigation in UAE. I guess UAE is not a jurisdiction meant for such aspirants.

However, research and drafting skills are not something that you can ever ignore in this jurisdiction. Whether you are working in a law firm or a company, you will definitely be required to do in-depth research (which is not an easy task in UAE) and draft variety of complicated and simple contracts, legal opinions and other documents. This is one skill that you must focus on improving and continue working on it even if you land a job in the UAE.

5. Negotiation and Communication Skills: Navigating UAE legal system, local authorities’ requirements (where the majority of people speak Arabic), variety of cultures in and outside your office, dealing with clients, vendors and third parties from various nationalities in a single day will sound like a terrifying job. Therefore, you must work on your communication and negotiation skills. It is not something that can be learnt in one day, and I also don’t expect fresh graduates to be master in these skills, but such soft skills will definitely help here in moving forward.

7. Academic Qualification: Having masters in law or an additional degree (in MBA or Finance) could be more helpful in finding opportunities. I have come across quite a few opportunities where a Postgraduate in law is preferred.

Why and How is LinkedIn Beneficial for UAE?

I have always been a strong advocate for maintaining an updated LinkedIn profile. Unlike Facebook or other forms of social media, LinkedIn is more professional and reliable. All major companies and law firms, whether small or big, local or international, will have a presence on LinkedIn. Majority of the lawyer, partners, HR Heads and other executives of a company or a law firm will have an active LinkedIn profile which they utilise for various purposes.

There are many legal recruitment agencies and legal recruitment agents who are active on LinkedIn and source candidates from this platform. A lot of the companies and law firm either publish the career opportunities solely on LinkedIn and re-share such opportunities through their personal or company/law firm Pages.

There are hundreds of jobs posted every month on LinkedIn specifically for UAE. If this is hard to believe for you, then click on Jobs tab on LinkedIn, insert “legal” or “Lawyer” in the job search column and “United Arab Emirates” in search location column and then check the result. I agree that not all jobs will be relevant for you, but you get the point, which is – you can’t ignore LinkedIn when looking for jobs in UAE. There are additional tips that I will be sharing in Part III & IV on using LinkedIn. But remember one thing, everything that I said under this topic and any additional tips that I share in Part III & IV will be of no use if you don’t have an updated LinkedIn profile.


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List with Brief Description of UAE Specific Job Portals:

Recruitment and talent search methodology, techniques and platforms usually differ from country to country. It could be because of the unique culture, market, skills requirements etc. The job search portals that you see back in India might not be very relevant and active among the UAE recruiters. And therefore, it will be useful to know which job portals UAE recruiters usually use in UAE. Below are some of the major job portals.

1. GULFTALENT (https://www.gulftalent.com/)

  1. Region: This platform is specifically for Gulf countries (UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon).
  2. Important Columns: Never miss filling relevant columns like contact details (email and phone number), current job title, work experience description, notice period.
  3. Upload CV: The platform also allows you to upload a CV (in pdf and MS Word format). This option is useful if you feel that the format and columns provided by GulfTalent are not good enough to showcase your profile and want to upload your own format of CV.
  4. Mobile Application: GulfTalent is also available as a mobile application on Apple and Google Store. The mobile application for this platform works absolutely fine when it comes to searching for the opportunity; however, I won’t recommend setting up your profile through the mobile application. The profiles should always be created or updated using the web platform as it provides more flexibility compared to mobile applications.
  5. Upgrade/Premium: You also have an option to upgrade your profile by subscribing any of three different packages. Please note that they are providing a 30% discount as New Year’s Offer till 25th January.
  6. Job Search: You can search the job by Country, City or Category, and it also provides you with various filters to narrow down your searches like Job Role, Job Seniority, and Industry.
  7. Other Important Points:
    1. It is also important to keep in mind that you set Profile Search Permission to Public instead of Employers Only or Hidden. This will ensure an effective job search.
    2. This platform not only helps you to showcase your relevant work experience and academics, but also provide options for IT Skills that you might want the recruiter to know, professional certificates, language skills, reference etc.

2. INDEED (https://www.indeed.ae/)

  1. Region: Indeed.ae allows you to search for opportunities specifically in UAE by specific Emirates. I would recommend you focus more on Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and these are the Emirates with the most number of the job advertised.
  2. Important Columns: It is vital to fill relevant columns like Summary, contact details (email and phone number), work experience, and education.
  3. Upload CV: Indeed also give you an option to upload a Resume to replace the Indeed CV.
  4. Mobile Application: Indeed is also available as a mobile application on Apple and Google store and works perfectly when it comes to searching for jobs. However, I would recommend you to first create your profile by using the web version.
  5. Upgrade/Premium: No premium/upgrade option.
  6. Job Search: Searching jobs on this platform is easy. You just need to insert the job title (legal, lawyer, etc) and the name of the preferred emirates. And then you can filter the displayed jobs from various categories like Job Type (permanent, contractual etc), and company.
  7. Other Important Points:
    1. Make sure that your CV Privacy Setting is Public.
    2. Make sure that to devote some time while drafting Summary section on this platform. Ensure that you have a relevant and to the point Summary section.

3. BAYT (https://www.bayt.com/)

  1. Region: Bayt lists job opportunities from Gulf and some of the Asian countries.
  2. Important Columns: Make sure that you fill the current information in important columns like Contact Information, Personal Summary, and Notice Period.
  3. Upload CV: This platform gives you an option to upload a CV in MS Word or pdf format. Interestingly, this platform also has an option to upload a Video CV by pasting a link from YouTube. You can refer to this article (https://www.thebalancecareers.com/tips-for-creating-a-video-resume-2064219) on how to create a Video CV.
  4. Mobile Application: Bayt also has a mobile application, but in my personal experience, the web version is more responsive and helpful.
  5. Upgrade/Premium: This platform also provides you with an option to upgrade your account to Premium or Elite to enjoy additional features like promoting the application to the top, contact recruiters, see who viewed your profile, access to the salary search tool, get a cover letter written by an expert etc.
  6. Job Search: Searching jobs on this platform is easy. You just need to insert the job title (legal, lawyer, etc) and the name of the preferred emirates. And then you can filter the displayed jobs from various categories like Industry, Specialty, Job Role, Company Type, Employment Type etc.
  7. Other Important Points:
    1. Bayt also provides you with several paid services like CV and Cover Letter writing by professional writers, CV Review and Evaluation Services etc.
    2. It is essential to keep an updated profile on Bayt. There are many recruitment agents who browse through Bayt profile and cold call to see if you are open for a career move. However, for that to happen, you must have an updated and relevant profile.

4. NAUKRIGULF(https://www.naukrigulf.com/)

  1. Region: Specifically for finding opportunities in Gulf countries.
  2. Important Columns: Make sure that you provide the correct information in the columns like Key Skills, Professional Details, Profile Summary, Education Details, etc.
  3. Upload CV: This platform provides you with an option to upload your CV in pdf and MS word format.
  4. Mobile Application: This platform is also available as a Mobile Application which works absolutely fine when it comes to searching for new opportunities.
  5. Upgrade/Premium: No upgrade option available.
  6. Job Search: Platforms allows you to search for job opportunities by inserting skills, designation, company names, location and experience.
  7. Other Important Points:
    1. The platform provides various paid and free career or job search-oriented services like Text and Visual Resume Writing, Resume Quality Score, and Resume Samples.

Apart from the above four major job portals, there are few more portals which are not equally famous but are worth exploring. Few of those are listed below.

  1. Monstergulf (https://www.monstergulf.com/)
  2. Buzzon (https://buzzon.khaleejtimes.com/ad-category/jobs-vacancies/)
  3. Dubizzle Jobs (https://dubai.dubizzle.com/jobs/)
  4. Laimoon UAE (https://laimoon.com/uae)
  5. Career Jet (https://www.careerjet.ae/search/jobs?s=legal&l=United+Arab+Emirates)

In addition to the above job portals, you should also try exploring the openings listed on the websites of Recruitment Agencies which are active in UAE like;

  1. Leap29 (https://www.leap29.com/)
  2. Charter House (https://www.charterhouseme.ae/)
  3. Michael Page (https://www.michaelpage.ae/)
  4. Taylor Root (https://www.taylorroot.ae/)
  5. Innovations Group UAE (https://innovationuae.com/)
  6. Robert Walters (https://www.robertwalters.ae/legal/jobs.html)
  7. Jameson Legal UAE (https://www.jamesonlegal.com/global-network/middle-east)

Additional Tips, Suggestions and Material:

    1. The candidates should keep in mind is that just creating a profile on listed job platforms will be of no help. You must to make sure that the data on those profiles is up to date and accurate, you must actively use those platforms, keep the most recent version of you CV on the portals and ensure that you download the mobile application of the job portals.

    2. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with LinkedIn as it is one of the most important platforms for UAE when it comes to job hunting. You should follow all the relevant law firms and companies where you aspire to work and must try to connect with partners and HR professionals of all the respective law firms and companies. Adding a personal touch to LinkedIn invitations but adding a ‘note’ will help. If your resources permit, I urge you to subscribe to LinkedIn Premium account (for Career).
    3. Please attend the conferences, seminars and summits that keep on happening in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Such events draw a vast number of legal professionals and are a great place to make some connections which might assist you in getting the opportunity. Carrying a few copies of well-drafted CV will never hurt ?
    4. Make sure that you invest some of your time and resources in learning about the UAE legal system and law. Please invest in some books, online courses or offline training. Don’t wait till you get a job. Start small but start now.
    5. Make sure that you read the UAE employment law. This would not only help you once to get the job but would also be helpful in knowing your rights from the very beginning so that you can negotiate your job offers and know your legal rights (https://www.mohre.gov.ae/en/laws-legislation/labour-law.aspx)
    6. Visit the Career section of every international and local law firms operating in UAE.

    7. Be aware of fake job portals and scammers:
  1. https://gulfnews.com/uae/uae-recruitment-portal-wisdom-jobs-busted-for-fraud-targets-job-seekers-again-1.67776914
  2. https://gulfnews.com/uae/job-scam-expos-kicks-up-a-storm-1.61556933

8. Resources:

  1. Legal Events in Dubai That Don’t Cost A Thing (written by Priyasha Corrie) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/legal-events-dubai-dont-cost-thing-priyasha-corrie/
  2. Free tools that I use to keep myself updated on UAE laws (written by Priyasha Corrie) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/free-tools-i-use-keep-myself-updated-uae-laws-priyasha-corrie/
  3. My Thoughts on How to Approach Networking (written by Priyasha Corrie) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-thoughts-how-approachnetworking-priyasha-corrie/
  4. A Cheat Sheet for Corporate Lawyers New to the UAE (written by Priyasha Corrie) – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cheat-sheet-corporate-lawyers-new-uae-priyasha-corrie/
  5. UAE Salary Guide (strictly for general reference) – https://www.roberthalf.ae/reports-and-guides/salary-guide

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  1. Thank you very much for sharing such knowledgeable information! Great article! I never realized how crucial it is to choose the best Dubai Recruitment agency until I read this. Guildhall Agency seems like the perfect fit for any business looking to hire in Dubai. Their expertise and impressive track record speak for themselves. I’ll definitely be considering them for our upcoming hiring needs. Thanks for sharing such valuable insights!

  2. nice information about law field . sir i also wanna be in dubai please guide i am law graduate from mumbai university wanted to do career in legal field in dubai please guide

  3. Thank you for sharing this blog. It was easy to understand. It will be very helpful for the people truly an amazing blog.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the blog post above, really explains everything in detail. Thank you and good luck with the upcoming blogs.

  5. Such a nice article for anyone who thinks to do a job in Dubai. This article covers all advantages and disadvantages of working in Dubai.
    Thanks for sharing and keep posting.

  6. The blog was absolutely fantastic! A lot of great information which can be helpful in some or the other way. Keep updating the blog, looking forward to more contents…Great job, keep it up.


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