How to Work in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) as an OFW

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of of the most popular destinations for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) these days. In fact, did you know that Pinoys make up the fourth largest population group in the country… just after Indians, Pakistanis, and Bangladeshis? You heard that right! Notably, the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have the biggest expat populations.

The UAE has witnessed rapid development in recent years, especially since it has the third-largest oil reserves globally, not to mention the fifth-largest natural gas reserves in the world. As a result, the country has a booming oil and gas industry, along with a thriving construction, engineering, retail, healthcare, education, hospitality, and tourism industries.

In this article, we will discuss how jobseekers in the Philippines can become OFWs in the UAE. Among other things, we will talk about the qualifications, requirements, and procedures involved. We will also be sharing the most in-demand jobs that are available in this country.

How to Work in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) as an OFW


Indeed, there are many job opportunities for foreign workers, including OFWs, in the UAE. But first, you need to have a job offer from a UAE-based employer, who will facilitate the application of a residence visa and work permit on your behalf.

To qualify for a work permit in the UAE, the following qualifications must be met:

  • The applicant worker must be at least 18 years old;
  • The hiring company should have a valid license;
  • The company should not have any violations; and
  • The worker’s job must be in line with the nature of the hiring company.

Generally, foreign workers in the UAE may be classified into three categories, depending on their academic background and skills. These categories are as follows:

  • Category 1 – Workers with bachelors’ degrees;
  • Category 2 – Workers with a high school diploma in any field; and
  • Category 3 – Workers with a high school diploma.


When applying for a work permit or labor card in the UAE, the applicant and the hiring company need to prepare the following documents:

  • Applicant’s valid passport (original and photocopy);
  • 2 passport-sized photos;
  • Entry permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE);
  • Employment contract
  • Copy of the company’s commercial license;
  • Copy of service card from the employer;
  • Medical exam results;
  • Health insurance; and
  • Copy of applicant’s academic qualifications (e.g. TOR).

Most Popular Jobs in the UAE for Overseas Filipino Workers

At present, the most active industries in the UAE are: oil and gas, construction and engineering, hospitality and tourism, healthcare, information technology (IT), education, domestic work, and sales. Correspondingly, the most in-demand jobs in the country include the following:

  • Oil and Gas – engineers, drilling specialists, etc.
  • Construction and Engineering – architects, engineers, electricians, masons, etc.;
  • Hospitality and Tourism – hotel managers, restaurant managers, receptionists, butlers, chefs, bartenders, waiters, waitresses, housekeepers, tour guides, etc.;
  • Healthcare – doctors, nurses, physical therapists, surgeons, cardiologists, ophthalmologists, gynecologists, urologists, dentists, etc.;
  • Information Technology (IT) – network administrators, software developers, cybersecurity specialists, etc.;
  • Education – university instructors, subject teachers, teaching assistants, etc.;
  • Domestic Work – domestic helpers, caregivers, nannies, family drivers, gardeners, etc.; and
  • Retail and Sales – sales associates, customer service representatives, account executives, etc.

How to Become an OFW in the UAE

As mentioned earlier, it is the employer (or sponsor) who is responsible for obtaining a work permit on your behalf. Here is a description of the process, step-by-step:

  1. The employer prints the work permit application on Tasheel, which is the online system of the Ministry of Manpower.
  2. Then, he/she submits the following documents on your behalf: valid passport (original and photo copy), 2 passport-sized photos, entry permit from the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE); medical exam results; copy of the company’s commercial license; copy of the employer’s service card; job contract; health insurance; and copies of the applicant’s academic qualifications.
  3. The Ministry reviews the application. They may ask for additional or supporting documents.
  4. The Ministry issues a work permit. Your employer can download it from the MoHRE website.

Usually, the process of getting a work permit in the UAE takes around 5 working days. Depending on your job contract, the permit can be valid for about 1 to 3 years.

How to Get an Emirates ID

Aside from a work permit, you also need to have a UAE resident identity card, which is better known as the “Emirates ID.” Once again, it is the employer who is responsible for obtaining your Emirates ID card.

To get an Emirates ID, your employer needs to submit your passport and entry permit to an authorized “typing centre” in the UAE. The employer may also apply online through the official website of the Federal Department of Identification and Citizenship (ICP).

Afterwards, you must go to an Emirates ID authority centre, where your biometrics (i.e. photo, fingerprints) will be taken. Eventually, you shall receive a text message with a number that enables you to check the status of your Emirates ID application on the ICP website. As soon as your application is done, you can expect to be informed when your Emirates ID is ready for pick up at the post office.

Your Emirates ID will be valid for 1 to 3 years, depending on your job contract. When it expires, be sure to have it renewed or replaced; otherwise, you will be charged a fine for every day that your application is delayed!

Licensed Recruitment Agencies to the UAE

When applying for work in the UAE, see to it that you are dealing with a licensed recruitment agency. Otherwise, you could end up working illegally or become a victim of human trafficking.

Here is a list of the manpower agencies that are accredited by the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to facilitate the hiring of OFWs to the UAE.

  • 101 Mojo International Corporation;
  • 1010 Ephesians Human Resources Inc.;
  • 1128 International Placement Agency;
  • 1st Dynamic Personnel Resources Inc.;
  • 2018 Crowne Human Resources Inc.;
  • 21st Century Manpower Resources Inc.;
  • 7107 Islands Placement and Promotions Inc.;
  • 9K International Manpower and Recruitment Services Corp.;
  • A-Vantage International Recruitment Corp.;
  • A. Kanan Manpower Corporation;
  • ABBA Personnel Services Inc.;
  • ABD Overseas Manpower Corp.;
  • ADEL International Manpower Services;
  • Admiral Overseas Employment Corporation;
  • Advance Group Link Manpower Services Inc.;
  • AGE International Gulf Employment Co.;
  • Akiro International Manpower Services Co.;
  • Al Assal Manpower Inc.;
  • Al Manaf International Manpower Corp.;
  • Al-Alamia International Manpower Services;
  • Al-Bayan International Manpower Services Co.;
  • Al-Habib International Services Corporation;
  • Al-Kingsmen International Manpower Services Co.;
  • ALJU International Manpower Services Inc.;
  • All Seasons Manpower International Services Incorporated;
  • Alpha Tomo (P) International Manpower Services Inc.;
  • Aplhalink Job Agency Inc.;
  • AMCAAJ International Recruitment Agency Inc.;
  • Ameinri Overseas Employment Agency Inc.;
  • American Prime Manpower Services Inc.;
  • Andrews Manpower Consulting Inc.;
  • Androme Recruitment and Management Services Inc.;
  • Angelex Allied Agency;
  • Ankor Management Services and Consultants Inc.;
  • Aqium International Inc.;
  • Aquavir International Inc.;
  • Aram Enterprises Inc.;
  • Arandrea Manpower Services Co.;
  • Armstrong Resources Corporation;
  • Ascend International Services Inc.;
  • Ascent Skills Human Resources Services Inc.;
  • Asia System Inc.;
  • Asia World Recruitment Inc.; and
  • Asmacs Recruitment Services Inc.

NOTE: Please visit the official website of the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) to see the full list of manpower agencies that are licensed to hire land-based as well as sea-based OFWs around the world.

Remote Work Visa

Are you a “remote worker” or as we like to call it these days, a “digital nomad”? If so, then you’d be interested to know that the UAE offers a special kind of visa for people like you: the “remote work visa,” which is part of Dubai’s Virtual Work Program.

As the name says, the remote work visa is designed for those who are employed by a company (but are working remotely), entrepreneurs, start-ups, and the self-employed. This visa enables them to relocate to Dubai while working remotely. It is valid for one year, but may be extended if you reapply.

To qualify for this program, you need to have a valid passport and health insurance that covers your residence in the UAE. In addition, if you are employee, you must: (a) show proof of employment with your current employer for 1 year; (b) be receiving a salary of at least USD 5,000 a month; and (c) show a salary receipt for the last month and an extract from the bank for the past 3 months.

On the other hand, if you are the owner of a company and you’d like to work remotely in Dubai, you must: (a) confirm ownership of the company for 1 year or more; (b) have an average monthly income of at least USD 5,000 a month; and (c) show bank statements from your company’s account for the past 3 months.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers on how to become an OFW in the UAE:

1. Who are qualified to work in the UAE?

You may be eligible to work in the UAE if you are at least 18 years old, with a job offer from a UAE-based employer. The company should have a valid license; it should not have any violations. Moreover, your job should be in line with the nature of the company that is hiring you.

2. What are the requirements?

Your UAE-based employer is responsible for getting a work permit on your behalf. The following documents must be submitted: valid passport, passport-sized photos, entry permit, job contract, medical exam results, health insurance, and company’s commercial license, among other requirements.

3. What are the most in-demand jobs for OFWs?

The most popular industries in the UAE right now are oil and gas, construction and engineering, hospitality and tourism, healthcare, information technology, education, domestic work, and sales. Hence, the most in-demand jobs in the country are engineers, hotel and restaurant workers, doctors, nurses, IT specialists, teachers, domestic workers, marketers, and customer sales representatives.

4. How can I become an OFW in the UAE?

Your employer (or sponsor) is responsible for getting your work permit and other papers, submitting the necessary papers to the UAE Ministry of Manpower as well as the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE). For your part, you need to prepare important documents such as your passport, transcript of records, etc.

5. How can I learn more about working in the UAE?

To learn more about working the UAE, you can get in touch with the UAE Embassy in Manila, whose contact details are provided below.

Contact Information: UAE Embassy in Manila

Here are the contact details and location map of the UAE Embassy in the Philippines. The office is based in Taguig, Metro Manila:

Address: Commerce & Industry Plaza, 1030 Campus Avenue, Taguig, 1634 Metro Manila
Telephone: +63 2 8822 1777

Google Map:

Video: Things to Know Before Going to the UAE

Are you wondering what it’s like to work in the UAE? You can start by watching a video from someone who used to live there!

In the following video shared by “Pinay Abroad Vlogs” on YouTube, an OFW, Lerma, talks about the things she wished she had known before going to the UAE. At present, she is an international student in Canada, but she still has many videos about the UAE, where she worked for a few years:

Additional Reminders

Of course, before coming to the UAE, it’s important to learn all about this country. Here are some facts and reminders that you should know if you plan on becoming an OFW in the UAE:

One Country, Seven Emirates. The UAE, as it is known today, was officially established on December 2, 1971. It is composed of seven emirates, namely: Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, and the capital city, Abu Dhabi. Most OFWs are based in either Dubai or Abu Dhabi, although there are many Pinoys in the other emirates, too.

Working Hours and Days. According to the UAE Labour Law, the maximum working hours for a 48-hour work week is 8 hours per day. This may be increased up to 9 hours per day for those who are working in commercial establishments. During the Holy Month, Ramadan, the working hours are reduced.

Meanwhile, the typical work week in the UAE is from Sunday to Thursday, with Friday as the official day off for most workers.

National Holidays. The national holidays that are typically observed in the UAE include: New Years Day (January), Ascension of the Prophet (June), Start of Ramadan (June), End of Ramadan or Eid Al Fitr (August), and Islamic New Years Day or Al Hijira (November). In the month of December, the entire country also celebrates the UAE National Day.

Religion. Even though Islam is the official religion of the UAE, the people are free to observe and practice their own religious beliefs, especially in Dubai. In this city, you will find different places of worship for Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and other religions.

Dress Code. Unlike in some other countries in the Middle East, you don’t have to wear traditional Muslim attire in the UAE. That being said, you are not allowed to wear revealing outfits, either, especially when you are going to a mosque or other religious sites.

When out in public, both men and women should avoid wearing clothes that have plunging necklines; super short pants, dresses, or skirts; and see-through clothing. In addition, be sure to check the text and images displayed on your clothes. See to it that these are not considered offensive to Islam, to the local culture, or to the government entities in the UAE.

Food. If you would like to eat non-Muslim or “non-halal” food such as pork, don’t worry because there are several restaurants that serve such food in the UAE. Most supermarkets also have non-halal sections where you can buy pork for your own consumption. As for alcohol, there are several hotels and restaurants that are licensed to serve alcoholic beverages, as well.

UAE Don’ts. Being a Muslim country, both citizens and foreigners in the UAE are expected to follow certain rules when it comes to day-to-day activities. Breaking these rules may lead to a fine, or worse, a prison sentence.

Here are some “don’ts” that every OFW in the UAE should keep in mind:

  • Do not play loud music in public.
  • Do not curse or say bad/offensive words.
  • During Ramadan, do not eat in public places or in front of Muslims.
  • Do not take photos of government properties.
  • Do not take photos of the locals (especially ladies and children) without asking for their permission.
  • Public displays of affection (PDA) among couples such as holding hands, hugging, and kissing, are discouraged.
  • Unmarried couples are not allowed to live together in one house in the UAE.
  • Do not bring prohibited items such as alcohol, drugs, and pornographic materials when you enter the UAE.


Nowadays, the UAE is among the most popular destinations in the world for foreign workers. Without a doubt, more and more OFWs will aspire to come here and work in the oil and gas, construction, healthcare, education, hospitality, tourism, domestic work, retail, and other industries.

If you are a Filipino who is keen on going to the UAE for work purposes, we certainly hope that the above guide has been helpful. On the other hand, if you are looking at other destinations in the Middle East, check out this article about how to work in Qatar as an OFW. Good luck!