Work Culture World Tour:
United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates World TourAlmost everyone is from someplace else in this sweltering hotbed of innovation (first to create a ministry of artificial intelligence and a regional leader in sustainability). We’re now in the United Arab Emirates, or UAE, which brims with oil, and therefore, ostentatious wealth. This nation on the Arabian Peninsula is one of few in the former British Empire to negotiate, rather than fight, its way out of colonial rule. It’s a small country that goes big on things like skyscrapers (it has the tallest), malls (the largest), Ferrari theme parks (need we say more), and is an employment perk paradise – probably why, besides the Ferrari park, this land of 7 kingdoms has attracted a population that is around 88% expat.

The UAE is the 19th destination on our ’round-the-world video curation tour of work cultures in many nations. We invite you to join us, watch out for us on our social channels (#CultureCoordinates) and let us know what these videos get right-or don’t-about working in different countries.

 Don’t mess with your manager or the local culture…

…get a lavish dinner, give a lavish dinner, but skip the booze

Fast Culture Facts for the UAE


  • 8 million, with a population density of 114 people per square kilometer. The UAE’s three largest emirates, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Sharjah, host 85% of the nation’s population.


  •  6.9 million – with one of the highest labor force participation rates in the world, at 83%­, but one of the lowest percentages of women making up the workforce, at 12.3%.


  • The UAE’s GDP reached $414 billion in 2018, making it the world’s 29th largest economy. Though the UAE is busy trying to remake itself for a post-petroleum world, industry (read: oil) accounted for nearly half of GDP. Services made up most of the other half, with tourism being a strong contributor, and agriculture contributing a tiny fraction. The UAE’s economy is relatively healthy, but its long-term dependence on oil may prove to be an issue.

Workforce Diversity:

  • The UAE ranks 121st overall in gender equality. Women earn about 21% less than men for similar work. Having a mostly immigrant population means the UAE is culturally diverse, although overwhelmingly Muslim, and the nation has come under fire for its treatment of migrant workers. Despite being one of the more progressive nations in the Persian Gulf region, the UAE offers LGBTQ people no protections, and extreme punishments. Male homosexuality is punishable by death in the UAE, although it is unclear what the risks are for women in same-sex relationships. There are no employment or housing protections for LGBTQ people in the UAE.




South Korea



The Philippines





New Zealand