Leading UAE businesses have sent out warnings over rogue recruiters and fake job scammers exploiting soaring interest from expatriates hoping to embark on careers in the country.
Unsolicited emails with fraudulent job opportunities asking for personal details to complete applications have been dropping into inboxes around the world, with the promise of lucrative new tax-free jobs and an all-year sunshine career in the Emirates.
It has prompted major brands including national airlines Emirates and Etihad, the Al Futtaim Group and schools including Kings’ Education to post online guidance for potential applicants.
“Every internet user must be aware that members of the public receive unsolicited emails containing fraudulent employment opportunities,” according to the advice from Al Futtaim, a group that employs more than 35,000 people in retail, financial services, real estate and health care.
“Al Futtaim and its associated companies and subsidiaries could be misrepresented by such an attempt and we offer this advice for your protection.
“Fraudulent employer emails often contain fake offers of employment requesting personal information or payment to process a job application or a payment to process your visa.
“No Al Futtaim business will ever request payment or fees for processing job applications.”
Recruitment companies said agents should not be charging for job opportunities, and applicants should check the average salary for the role before responding to adverts.
“In the UAE there are no licensed recruitment companies that charge candidates a fee, so it is illegal to do so," said David Mackenzie, group manging director for Mackenzie Jones recruitment agency in Dubai.
“We are seeing about a 40 per cent increase in the jobs market, year on year.
“Demand is good, with lots of roles but also lots of fake jobs, so people need to be careful. If a job sounds too good to be true, it is probably a scam.
“If a position for HR manager is paying Dh50,000 for example, it will likely be fake so people should know what the average salary is for the position they are looking for."
Airlines raise alarm
Etihad Airways posted similar guidance for those applying for work as cabin crew with the airline.
“These companies operate outside of our legal jurisdiction and it’s important that you’re able to spot them quickly before sharing any personal information with them,” Etihad said.
“We will never request an application fee at any stage of our recruitment process, and we will always communicate with you from an email address that ends with @etihad.ae.”
At a recent teachers' orientation day for new arrivals, schools provider Gems said it hired record numbers of teachers to work in the UAE and Qatar.
About 2,500 teachers were brought into schools before the new academic year, 700 more than the previous single year record.
The high demand came with a warning from schools for new teachers to look out for rogue recruiters.
“We have received a number of reports of fraudulent job offers in circulation using the brand identity of Kings’ Education,” an online statement said.
“Responding to such job offers can lead to identity, personal, or confidential information theft or financial scam.
“Kings’ Education, our schools and recruitment partners neither charge any fee, nor require any money deposits from jobseekers at any stage of the recruitment process.”
With attractive salaries, year-round sun and dynamic modern cities, the UAE has become an attractive destination for many.
Demand rises as population booms
Figures from Dubai Statistics Centre showed the population in the emirate swelled to 3.6 million in June, an increase of almost 90,000 in just 12 months.
Natasha Hatherall, chief executive of TishTash Communications in Dubai, said her company had been inundated with job applications.
“While there is usually a steady stream of applicants for roles from the UK, Europe and other international markets, we have seen a significant increase this year and especially in the past three months,” said Ms Hatherall, who manages 52 staff in the UK, Riyadh and the UAE.
“Graduates who are finding no hope of employment in their home country account for about 50 per cent of applications, those with two to five years' experience approximately 25 per cent and those with more than five years the final 25 per cent [of applicants].
“Most state a lack of opportunities, a desire to work overseas or having friends and family already here as the reasons. Some just love the idea of living in Dubai.
“Currently we're receiving between 20 and 50 CVs a day from international applicants, mainly from the UK but also from Canada, the US, India and Germany.”
The UAE’s health sector is another hit by the scourge of fake job adverts.
In 2021, 90 nurses from India lost tens of thousands of dirhams when they were duped into travelling to the UAE for non-existent jobs and the promise of Dh4,500 monthly salaries.
Most had paid out agency fees running to Dh10,000 to start a new career in the UAE, only to discover they had been conned.
UAE private healthcare provider VPS stepped in to offer each of the nurses jobs at 10 hospitals across the country.
Burjeel Holdings, of which VPS is the largest shareholder, has since issued guidance for applicants online to spot bogus recruiters.
“At Burjeel Holdings, we do not send job offers from any domain name other than our registered website, and never from free email services like Gmail, Rediffmail, Yahoo mail, or Hotmail,” it said.
“Our offers to potential employees are made directly by Burjeel Holdings and not by any third parties.
“Anyone making an employment offer in return for monetary or other types of gain is not authorised by Burjeel Holdings and is not offering any approved job.
“Burjeel Holdings reserves the right to take legal action against such individuals or entities, including criminal action.”
A step-by-step guide for applicants
- If you are offered a job in the UAE, you must get an offer letter issued by the UAE’s Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE).
- The prospective employees/candidates can verify the job offer’s validity at the UAE embassy in their country. You can use the job offer number to verify the employer’s validity at the MOHRE website (enquiry service – application status).
- After you sign the offer letter, the employer will send you an employment visa to enter the UAE. Refer to points 8 and 9 below to verify visa/entry permit validity.
- A visit or tourist entry permit/visa does not give you right to work in the UAE. Working under a visit or tourist visa will incur penalties and legal liability.
- You should know that the employer is responsible for payment of recruitment expenses as per the UAE’s Labour Law.
- Make sure that the company legally exists. You can search the company’s English and Arabic name in the National Economic register and get company details.
- Get your queries answered by MoHRE at telephone number 00 971 6802 7666, email firstname.lastname@example.org or chat service.
- If you have an entry permit/visa issued from Dubai, please verify its validity at the GDRFA’s website.
- Verify validity of an entry permit/visa issued from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah or Fujairah at the eChannels platform.
- A tourist visa is issued by UAE-based airlines Emirates, Etihad, Fly Dubai and Air Arabia. It is also issued by UAE hotels and travel agencies.
- Learn more about the fees for visas and entry permits issued from Dubai.
- Get help on visas and entry permits issued from Dubai through Amer’s chat service.
- Get more information on visas and entry permits issued from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah through the chat service of ICP.
- A residence visa cannot be processed for anyone while the applicant is outside the UAE. A residence visa can be issued only when the applicant is in the UAE having entered the country on an entry permit.