Construction and Engineering -Jobs and Careers in the Middle East -International Construction Recruitment

There are so many questions to ask when seeking work or a career in construction in the Middle East, Working in Dubai in the middle east is the most popular destination, but Saudi Qatar and Oman certainly have a lot to offer in terms of Job Vacancies. This particular article is focused on Living and working in the Middle East for British Expats. Although Stafford Lawrence recruits and hires a wide variety of nationalities for Construction and Engineering job vacancies across the Middle East.

Stafford Lawrence Ltd works with a number of well-known construction consultancy and engineering clients to recruit and hire for candidates in Quantity Surveying / Commercial Management, Project Management and Engineering (Architectural, Civil, Structural, Electrical and Mechanical) professions. Our Middle East vacancies cover, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Qatar, Saudi, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman.

This blog briefly covers salaries, visas, age limits, and holiday allowances and much more for the Middle East. We also mention the differences between Dubai, Saudi, Qatar Oman and Bahrain.

The following information is gleaned from recruiting candidates for over 20+ years for clients in the Construction Sector in the Middle East.

Working with a Recruiter for Job Vacancies in the Middle East- Middle East Construction Recruiter

Many candidates prefer to work through a recruiter to apply for jobs and vacancies in the Middle East. Other candidates prefer to apply directly or to send their CV via a contact they already know.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: Our clients are known to us. Our clients pay our candidates. If you are going to work anywhere in the Middle East and are NOT working through a recruiter, you MUST do your due diligence. It takes nothing to drop a message to someone who has previously worked with the organisation you are looking to work with. Some organisations do not pay their candidates. If you do not get paid you wont be able to pay your accommodation and you will be thrown out of the country or worse imprisoned. DO NOT get caught out.

What are the Benefits of working with a Recruiter like Stafford Lawrence Ltd?

  1. Stafford Lawrence Ltd recruits for vacancies for a number of consultancy clients across the Middle East.
  2. Feedback is always provided on your CV. Middle East recruitment can be fast or incredibly slow. Feedback is usually within 2, longer if there is a national holiday. You wont be the only candidate under interview, some companies are looking for multiple candidates 10-20. It is not like the UK where you might be the only candidate for one vacancy.
  3. Our staff can advise on salary bandings. We ensure it is financially viable for you to move to the middle east. You do not have to take our salary advice, that is up to you. Our candidate cover sheet provides information to our clients including suggestions on your salary requirement, based on our discussions. If we feel you are pricing yourself out of the market, we will tell you. But ultimately it is your call.
  4. Stafford Lawrence Ltd only present your CV to clients with live vacancies. If you are not successful the first time we can continue to submit your CV to new job vacancies in the future.
  5. We work with you to secure an offer as well as assisting you with all the paperwork required for your visa. We also keep in touch until you arrive at your destination and beyond.

Terms and Conditions – International Construction Recruitment

N.B You are already deemed to be on our clients recruitment system if you have applied directly, via a friend, or via another recruiter within 6-12 months. We therefore cannot resubmit your CV to the same client, even if it is a new vacancy. This also applies to gathering feedback. We cannot gather feedback for candidates who have applied via a friend, or via another recruiter. GDPR prevents disclosure. SO, if you are going to apply through that friend…. make sure that they are sending your CV to the right person and chasing for feedback for you. After all, its their job to chase for feedback on your CV, right?……

Salaries in the Middle East – Expat Salaries – Middle East Recruitment 

  • Salaries for British expat candidates- That depends on the position and the level. Stafford Lawrence tends to work with global organisations, that have a UK /European or US arm.  Our clients are aware, that you pay tax and pay for your own accommodation and sometimes transport when living and working in the United Kingdom. So the short answer is, you will get the going rate.
  • It is likely you will want to earn a lot more money for working overseas, But a WARNING, don’t be greedy! Some candidates will tell us exactly how much they think they are worth in the Middle East…because their friend or their uncle told them what they were getting back in the 1970s. We recruit on a daily basis, day in day out, almost 365 days of the year.
  • Our Director has been placing candidates into the Middle East and negotiating salaries for over 20 years. We can advise what the going rate is for someone with your experience, from Assistant to Board Level. You do not have to accept the figures we suggest, but it is in our interest to get you the best salary possible, at the same time, you don’t want to price yourself out of the market.
  • YES, you can earn a good tax-free salary, but you need to be realistic. You might have to take a step back, to take a step forward.
  • Remember there are highly qualified candidates from across the globe applying for Middle East jobs and careers. You are competing with a larger group of highly qualified people. There is much to learn and you might not be able to hit the ground running considering the differing contracts and working practices in the Middle East.

Salary Packages in the Middle East- Job Vacancies Working in Dubai and the Middle East

  • We aim to get some of your current salary tax-free, plus accommodation and transport allowances. In some circumstances we can push for more. Dependent upon experience.
  • Medical Cover is always provided by the company, on top of your package.
  • Our clients provide mobilisation and demobilisation flights (any additional flights will come out of your transport allowance).
  • Salaries in the Middle East are paid monthly and quoted on monthly amounts NOT Per annum. This amount covers basic salary, transport and accommodation allowance for the month.
  • All the companies that we work for will also pay for all visa costs and assist you in obtaining a visa.
  • Bonus as Per the Law in each country- This is usually a percentage of your basic monthly salary.

When we talk to British Expats interested in living and working in the Middle East, we ascertain if it is viable for UK candidates to go to the Middle East. Occasionally, we will advise candidates that it won’t be financially viable, especially candidates with large families, as the cost of living and schooling in the Middle East is high. The demand for Middle East job vacancies is high and the salaries in recent years have come down, due to a drop in projects.

How are Middle East Salaries Advertised- Middle East Salaries

  • When recruiters advertise job vacancies for the Middle East, the figure advertised is usually a MONTHLY amount in local currency and this will be the ALL IN amount or Total Package (salary, accommodation and transport)
  • Medical Cover is provided on top, plus an end-of-service bonus or yearly bonus, which is a percentage 1-month salary for every year served. Some companies may offer additional bonuses. So to work it out the basic salary is usually 60% of the total package advertised.
  • Some job vacancies in Saudi are in remote locations and in these cases accommodation, transport and sometimes food and laundry is provided FREE on top of the basic, which is a bonus as prices are rising for accommodation, especially in Saudi Arabia.
  • Competition for vacancies in the Middle East is very high. You are competing with the best and most qualified candidates from across the globe. We often advise our candidates on a suggested salary for Middle East vacancies.

Accommodation in the Middle East

Will they provide me with Accommodation?

  • No. In general, clients will provide you with an accommodation allowance every month( see salary information) which is part of your monthly total package salary.
  • Some remote location job vacancies provide you with hotel accommodation and food on top of your basic salary package.
  • You can look at accommodation and costs on the Internet, our advice is to wait till you get over there. There are plenty of expats already there who can provide you with information on the best places to look. Our clients can also assist you and recommend the best places.
  • There are plenty of ex-pats working for the company you join, who will be able to provide the name of a good rental agent, or maybe if you don’t want your own accommodation you can rent a room.
  • Most companies will provide hotel accommodation for the first few weeks/ month. Most clients will put you up in a hotel for a few weeks when you arrive, you must then source accommodation in that period and its much easier and cheaper to do it when you are ‘on the ground’
  • Accommodation in Saudi is slightly different and is provided on a compound. Our clients can advise on this.

Another helpful website with information about visas in most middle east locations is https://www.justlanded.com/

Middle East – Pensions – Middle East Packages

Do they provide Pensions in the Middle East?

In many Middle East countries, a pension scheme is not provided. Pensions are not part of your package for a Middle East career. Stafford Lawrence Ltd cannot provide financial advice on pension schemes. We do however advise that you ensure that you have a provision for your retirement. You may be enjoying a high salary as an ex-pat, and reap the rewards of living and working in the Middle East, but everyone retires at some point. Advice on how to ensure you have an adequate pension as an ex-pat is available on the Internet. Please read below on retirement ages in the middle east as these have changed recently.

Middle East Tax – Work in the Middle East- Salaries in the Middle East

As an Expat, do I need to pay tax on my income?

  • Qatar does not currently levy income tax on expat individuals’ salaries, wages, or allowances
  • UAE does not levy income tax on expat individuals’ salaries, wages, or allowances.
  • Saudi Arabia does not levy income tax on expat individuals’ salaries, wages, or allowances. However, a new levy has been introduced in Saudi Arabia on expat dependents. Further information can be found on the following sites.

Saudi Arabia Collects New Tax On Expats – Expat Network

Expat Dependent Fee Calculator 2023 – KSAexpats.com

UK Govt Website -Tax on foreign income

Required Qualifications to Work in the Middle East

What qualifications do I need for a job in Dubai, Saudi, Bahrain Oman Kuwait or Qatar?

That depends on the Job Vacancy. When clients approach a recruiter, it is usually for a candidate that they can’t find themselves. All vacancies that we recruit for in the Middle East require a minimum of a Degree Qualification and sometimes Chartered Status. MRICS MAPM MCIOB CEng PEng. Some companies and countries ask for a Full-time degree qualification rather than a part-time degree qualification. In certain instances, some clients ask for a 4-year degree rather than a 3-year degree.

Years of Experience required for Middle East Job Vacancies

Our vacancies will stipulate years of experience. Clients tend to request candidates with a specific number of years of  POST DEGREE experience for positions.  A client may ask for 10 years post degree experience, we therefore cannot take into account years of work experience before you attained your degree qualification. You might have worked 5 years whilst studying your Degree part time, unfortunately we cannot count this as years of full time post degree experience. So if you attained your Degree Qualification in 2020, you have 4 years post degree, despite working 5 years before you attained your degree. This is considered as only 4 years experience NOT 9 years. Yes it is harsh but don’t shoot the messenger.

For Associate Directors in the Middle East, our clients usually stipulate no less than 15-20 years post degree experience. Someone with the title AD in the UK, might have to settle for the title Senior Quantity Surveyor, so be aware of this when applying to vacancies. It not all about the title over there its about experience.

What Position can I Expect- Middle East Quantity Surveyor Job Vacancies

“I’m a Senior Quantity Surveyor and I want an Associate Director position”.

Candidates without previous experience in the Middle East will be offered a position title similar to the one they currently have. Read above notes on years of experience.

It would be difficult to suggest that you could ‘hit the ground running’ without previous middle east experience. OK, you might be very smart, but there will be different ways of working, different contracts, FIDIC. We suggest you learn to walk for the first 3-6 months, gain experience, complete probation, and then start chasing titles. Again you might have to take a step back to take a step forward. Dont get hung up on a title.

Holiday Allowances in the Middle East

Holiday Allowances differ slightly from country to country. The majority of our clients who are Construction Consultancy organisations offer between 22-25 days holiday per annum, plus all national holidays ( of which there are quite a few) You can check the internet for the number of National holidays in a particular country every year. Other national holidays are announced throughout the year.

It is very important to remember, holiday allowances are across the board for every member of staff. They will not negotiate on holiday allowances for anyone. It doesnt matter one iota if you are getting 27 days currently in the UK or if your uncle had a rotational leave back in the 1970s (they rarely do rotational leave now). Rules are rules, they offer the same to everyone, this is company policy. Trying to argue your case for extra days as you might do in the UK, is quite simply futile.

Which Country is best for Me?

Dubai is the most popular work destination and preferred choice for most candidates and for families but salaries have come down considerably over recent years. There are fewer projects and more candidates. Competition for Job Vacancies in Dubai is very high, clients can pick and choose their candidates. You can still earn a good tax-free salary.

Unmarried couples can now live and work in Dubai. Due to the law, it is illegal to live as an unmarried couple in Saudi, Oman, Kuwait and Qatar. With so much competition for Job Vacancies in Dubai, Qatar is the next choice followed by Saudi Arabia. Salaries in Saudi Arabia for Quantity Surveyors and commercial managers tend to be higher than in Qatar, however, salaries in Saudi have also seen a reduction, because of candidates becoming available from Oman and Dubai where projects are slowing.

Saudi currently has lots of projects Hotels and Resorts and Theme Parks, Saudi Arabia or KSA ( Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is more restrictive than other parts of the Middle East. It has improved considerably over recent years. Women are now allowed to drive and are welcomed in construction and engineering positions. In terms of salary it’s on a par with Qatar, possibly slightly more.

For some further useful information on living in the UAE, Saudi, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain  Expat Network website  

Jobs and Careers for Women in Construction and Engineering in the Middle East

Over the last 20 years we have recruited women into construction and engineering job vacancies across the Middle East. There are a number of women in construction at all levels across the industry.

Saudi Arabia KSA is actively encouraging women in the Construction and Engineering sectors in Saudi Arabia -KSA. Stafford Lawrence Ltd has recently placed a number of women into a variety of job vacancies in the Kingdom. For more information on working in Saudi as a Woman, we have detailed information on our blog page Advice for Women working in Saudi Arabia

Can I take my boyfriend/ girlfriend with me to the Middle East?

Due to new laws in Dubai, you can now go to Dubai as an unmarried couple. You cannot currently go to Saudi as an unmarried couple and we would not recommend it in Qatar. Although you might have heard there are couples who do. You are working in a Muslim country and you must respect the laws. All our clients adhere to these laws very strictly, failure to do so would impact their business and therefore we do not advise that you do this.

Can I take my Family to the Middle East- Working in Dubai, Saudi, Qatar and Oman

Yes. The majority of companies can provide Married or Family Status positions. We do not recommended to take your family and children for work on any remote location.

Is there a Beach?

Yes, would you believe it! We are asked this question a lot. The reply is always the same “ Do you have a beach in your current position in Stoke/ Manchester/ London etc”. Alas, we are not a travel agency, this is a job…. There are beaches, but we are not selling a holiday here and there’s plenty of sand so if you are a golfer, you can certainly practice your bunker shots. Remember, you are seeking a job or career, to WORK in the Middle East….

Age Limits for Work in the Middle East – Retirement Age in the Middle East

Is there an age limit to work in the Middle East

Sometimes, because of the nature of the work, clients ask us to find candidates under a certain age. It is difficult to get a visa over the age of 55 or 60 particularly in Saudi. There are ways around this if the client is keen to have you on board. There are UK nationals working in the Middle East who are over 70. Currently, the retirement age for expatriates in Saudi Qatar and Dubai is 60. It is  difficult for organisations to provide visas after the age of 60. The recently announced move to force Saudi Arabia’s expatriate employees to retire at the age of 60 is set to cause much controversy in the kingdom.

Recent Press- The full article can be found on the following webpage – Expatriate Employees Retirement Age Saudi

N.B As a recruitment organisation, our clients ask for specific requirements. If our client states that they cannot obtain a visa for anyone over 60, we have to adhere to that requirement. There may be client side organisations who are able to bend the rules, but we and the majority of our clients cannot. We work to cretain parameters and respectfully have to work within GCC laws. 

Securing a Work Visa, Residents Visa or Iqama in the Middle East

How long does it take to get a work visa for the Middle East?

When you have an offer for the middle east, you have to start the process of obtaining a visa. The timescale is currently 1-3 months dependent upon location. Our clients have a team to help you. .

In all countries, you will need a work visa or Iqama ( Saudi) or Residents Visa in order to open a bank account. Life would be difficult without one.

The following are requirements.

  • Attestation of your qualifications. Your qualifications/ marriage certificates belong to you, the cost of attesting them is sometimes down to the candidate. But some clients do pay for this.
  • A police clearance check. (see below on Criminal Convictions)
  • A medical examination
  • Vaccinations  (Please check the internet for current rules and guidelines on vaccinations)
  • The client pays all visa fees and medical

In some special circumstances, if the client requires your services immediately, they will take you over on a business visa and then secure your residents visa whilst you are in country.

Police Clearance Checks 

I have a criminal conviction, will I still be able to go to the Middle East?

Part of the visa paperwork requires a Police Clearance Check. If you have a criminal conviction on your record, you will not be able to obtain a visa. You can make a plea to have certain minor convictions removed from your UK record.

What Construction Projects will I be working on in the Middle East

That depends on your experience. If you are a Buildings Specialist- Hotels, Resorts, Mixed Use, Commercial, Leisure and Entertainment projects. If you are a civils professional there are Roads and Highways, Bridges and Dams or Rail projects. There are so many great projects to work on in the Middle East.

Can I take my Pet to the Middle East

This information relates specifically to Dogs.

You can take your pet with you if you are going to work in the United Arab Emirates or Qatar, it is slightly more restrictive in Saudi Arabia. There is a lot of information available on the internet.

DUBAI & QATAR Every dog must have a microchip and up-to-date vaccinations this is mandatory. The registrations are valid for a year, and you have to re-register your pet every year.

Visit the pet traveller website for detailed information Basics detailed below:

  • Register and vaccinate your dog.
  • Use a lead and mask in public.
  • Make sure your dog is not on the prohibited breeds list
  • Don’t take your dog to prohibited dog areas.
  • Don’t let your dog harm other people and property
  • Clean up after your dog

SAUDI- All of the above apply but the paperwork process can be more difficult for Saudi than other GCC countries. Expats who go out to Saudi to work should think seriously about taking their pets. Personally we dont advise it, it is very hot.

Saudi Arabia is governed by the Shari’a, which is the Islamic Law. According to Wahhabism, animals, and dogs, in particular, are deemed impure creatures. Thus, Saudi authorities used to prohibit dogs as well as cats from entering the country for years.

International Construction Recruitment Consultants – Stafford Lawrence Ltd 

Every country has slightly different requirements,  we have only covered the basics here. If you are keen on living and working in the Middle East, please get in contact.

Please visit our International jobs page for our current job vacancies.

You can email admin@staffordlawrence.com if you have any questions about any of the job vacancies on our website.

Tips Job Vacancies for Quantity Surveyors in the Middle East – Middle East Construction Recruitment

All our UK Middle East and International job vacancies are on our website OR you can follow us to receive updates on all our latest vacancies Stafford Lawrence Company Linkedin page

Below are just a few of our Middle East Vacancies

Quantity Surveyor jobs in the Middle East

Cost Consultant jobs in the Middle East

Commercial Manager jobs in the Middle East

MRICS Quantity Surveyor jobs in the Middle East Saudi

QS Jobs in the Middle East – Saudi, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi

You can also find more of our Job Vacancies for MRICS Quantity Surveyors on the RICS Recruit job vacancy website.

Tips on Writing your CV for work in the Middle East – Construction Candidates

Our blog page also provides useful information on how to write your CV CV writing Tips for Middle East Vacancies