Ahmad Bin Byat, Director General of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA). Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: In a landmark development, university students in Dubai can now hold paid part-time jobs in thousands of companies in nine free zone clusters, enabled through a new regulation announced by Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA) on Tuesday.

The student part-time work regulation and permit applies to some 26,000 students enrolled at around two dozen academic institutions licensed by DCCA, primarily located in Dubai International Academic City (DIAC) and Dubai Knowledge Park.

The applicable institutions represent over half of all international branch campuses in the UAE. The new regulation is being implemented with the support of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA).

It enables 4,500 businesses in the emirate’s nine creative clusters, such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, and Dubai Studio City, to offer part-time employment to university students.

‘Valuable experience’

In an interview, Ahmad Bin Byat, Director General of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), said the regulation “allows students to earn while they learn, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable experience and an enhanced skill set that will make them stand out in the job market post graduation”.


Business, meanwhile, can “gain access to a flexible and educated new stream of talent, without having to sponsor student part-time employees. Over the longer term, the initiative will boost the business-ready skills of fresh graduates, resolving a common issue that recent students don’t have the business acumen that will make them of real value from the very start of their fledgling careers”.

It is understood the working students would continue under the student visa sponsorship of their university during their course of study (and part-time work).

Bin Byat also stressed “it is critical to ensure that both employers and employees are protected within a strong and fair legal framework”.

He pointed out the regulation’s advantages for academic institutions as well, which would give them “a competitive edge in the market, particularly when compared to other academic institutions across the region that do not allow students to work during the time they are studying”.

DCCA, he added, is the region’s first government and free-zone entity to enable businesses to hire from a talent pool of such a large number of students who will be provided part-time work permits.

Strategic goals

The move is also in line with Dubai’s strategic goals. Bin Byat said: “The regulation is part of DCCA’s commitment to implement policies and programmes to enable sustainable growth and the development of the creative industries in full alignment with the Dubai Plan 2021 and the Dubai Strategy for Innovation.

“The sustainable growth of these creative industries, and the success of the businesses operating in these sectors, are key for the realisation of the leadership’s vision of Dubai as a global hub for innovation.”

Mohammad Abdullah, DIAC managing director, said: “Several knowledge hubs in North America and Europe already allow students to work while they study, and so with this initiative, Dubai further moves towards becoming a global education powerhouse…”

Students welcome part-time work permits

By Paul Crompton, Staff Reporter

University students welcomed the new regulation, saying it will get them more rights and a fully legal way to pay tuition fees.

“My university charges me Dh40,000 per year. This small amount of money [I can make from working legally] will at least help me. It will be like a scholarship. Later on the work experience. When you’re not officially part of the company, they have the upper hand of not giving salaries when they want to. But if we get [part-time work permits] like this, it is going to help us, because it will give us a right.” - Aakhib Shakur, an undergraduate at BITS Pilani, Dubai campus

“I am on my father’s visa, but my best friend was on a student visa and it was hard for her to get a job because of the rules that they have in Dubai. When she wanted to make some extra money she couldn’t make anything. I think this will really help students right now, to work from a young age and get that experience.” - Sarah Feliciano, recent graduate from Murdoch University

“To work legitimately at a student, you had to get an NoC from the university, and that took quite a bit of time… I have friends who are struggling to get student jobs. Now, you won’t have to worry about the authorities asking for your documents.” - Tanya Mafemera, a graduate from Murdoch University

“That is a great idea for many of the students as this will also give them some experience to work in a professional environment and as well as get their CV filled with job experience. This will also allow students to live the Dubai life as how they imagine before actually starting their academic year. I have personally seen and heard comments from students on how they actually imagine their life would be in Dubai as a student and how it turns up.” - Yawar Saeed, undergraduate at Heriot-Watt University, Dubai campus (NO MUGSHOT)

Why should you Earn While You Learn? Source: Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA)

-Working while you study allows you to gain valuable experience of the workplace at the same time as being enrolled at university, helping you to make informed decisions about the career path you hope to follow after you graduate.

-Employers prefer to hire fresh graduates who can hit the ground running. Having the right qualifications in addition to business-friendly soft-skills — something that you can only gain through first-hand experience of the workplace — will significantly enhance your employment prospects.

-If you are facing any financial pressures, a common situation for many international students, being able to earn a salary through part-time employment while you are enrolled at an academic institution can make a big difference to your standard of living

-The new regulation also ensures that you are protected by a legal framework that regulates the terms of employment for part-time students, providing clear guidelines that both employees and employers need to abide by

Where can you work?

The new regulation applies to part-time employment with over 4,500 companies located in Dubai’s creative clusters such as Dubai Internet City, Dubai Outsource City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Park, Dubai International Academic City, Dubai Production City, Dubai Science Park and Dubai Design District, d3.

These businesses operate across a wide range of industry sectors, from ICT, Outsourcing, Higher Education and Human Capital Development, through to Media and Entertainment, Design, and Life Sciences, Energy and Environment.