Every country has its specific culture. This is applicable to the business culture as well. When you arrive to work in Dubai, you have to have an idea of how things work in the emirate. The employment opportunities are excellent, but there are some formal and informal rules that you have to abide by when working in UAE. It is possible for you to change your job, but this is a sensitive matter for employers. Hence, you should look into it more closely.
When you arrive in Dubai you cannot get a resident visa without having a sponsor. As an expatriate worker, your sponsor is your employer. This simple fact makes the job switching process difficult on its own. Another factor that can make the situation more difficult for you as a professional is the fact that business ethics is particularly valued in Dubai and in the Arab countries in general. If you intend to work for a competitor of your previous employer, things might get quite awkward. In turn, your professional reputation might be negatively affected.
You have to take these technical and moral considerations into account, but the main factor that you have to base your decision on is the nature of your contract. If it is for a fixed period of time, you will have to leave Dubai once it expires. Then you can come back to look for a new job. This is your main option unless you negotiate an extension of your contract with your employer. If you want to break the agreement and move to another job, then you have to ask permission. It is up to the employer to allow you to leave. Even if they do, you will have to deal with the visa and job chancing process, which is usually long and difficult.
Most contracts nowadays are open-ended. However, most employers are unwilling to let their employees “switch sides”. That is why they add different types of clauses that pose restrictions for you to work with another company in the emirate. In most cases, you will have to leave UAE for a certain period of time before reapplying for a visa with a new sponsor (employer). This means that transferring to a new job might take you months during which you have to stay in your home country and this is quite inconvenient.
The best possible way in which you can change jobs in Dubai is to have the permission of your present employer to do so. You have to obtain the so called letter of no objection (or no objection certificate). This document is usually not easy to get, so it is best for you to go about the discussion with your boss very discreetly. You might have to rely on network and personal contacts that you have made. Keep in mind, however, that even if you mange to get a letter of no objection, you are highly likely to have to leave Dubai for a certain period of time in order to be able to reapply for a visa.