Domestic help in the UAE

Many families residing in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (or any other city in the United Arab Emirates) employ domestic help in the form of a maid, nanny or driver. To many people this is seen to be an advantage of living in the UAE, particularly because of the general low cost of hiring help, in comparison to many other countries in the world. 

Some people have part time help, whilst others opt to have a full time live-in maid to reside in their home.  The choice comes down to personal needs and is also dependent on family circumstances – not everyone is entitled to sponsor a domestic helper and there are certain rules to follow, as detailed below.

  • You must be a family, a single person cannot sponsor a maid
  • You must be a family earning a salary above AED 6000 per month
  • You must live in suitable accommodation – a minimum of a 2 bedroom apartment or villa
  • Once you employ a maid, they may not legally take on any part-time work so you must be financially secure to employ them

Once you have made the decision to employ help, it is important to weigh up your options and not rush into making a decision, particularly if deciding to hire a full time live-in maid who will reside in your home permanently. Selecting the wrong maid can be a costly mistake and will be disruptive to your family.

How do you choose between full-time and part-time domestic help?

Typically families tend to have full time maids/nanny’s but it’s not necessarily the right path for everyone! If you’re not sure which way to go, we’ve put together a list of advantages and disadvantages for each, to help you to decide!

Advantages of having a full-time live-in maid:

  • Having a full time nanny on-hand to assist with children and everyday chores can definitely reduce the stress for families, particularly for families with young children
  • Takes away the hassle and cost of hiring a baby sitter
  • Having a live-in nanny also means you build a trust with that person and can rely on her to care for your family
  • This option tends to be much cheaper then hiring a maid on an hourly basis through a company. An average live-in maids salary is from AED 1500 – AED 3000, dependent on her experience and nationality


  • The helper will live in your home with your family, some people do find this intrusive. One option would be to reside in a villa with a outdoor maids room so she has her own quarters outside of your main home but most newer houses and apartments are built with maids rooms inside
  • As the sponsor, you must take on the responsibility and costs of employing the helper which means each year renewing their visa and paying for a flight home. Some families also pay for the maid’s food or give a food allowance, dependent on the maid – where she is from and her experience. This can all be negotiated with the maid before employment commences
  • Legally you will be responsible for the maid so it is important to chose carefully and make sure she abides by the rules

If only part-time help is needed, make sure you use a licenced agency that provides helpers for hire on an hourly basis. Having a maid in your home who isn’t legally sponsored is an offence, which you can be heavily fined for.

Advantages of having a part-time maid:

  • You will not have to worry about, or cover the cost of the helpers visa each year
  • You will not be responsible for providing additional allowances for the maid
  • If you do not have a maids room this is a good option, rather than having to increase the size of your home
  • You will have privacy in your home as and when you want

Dis-advantages of having a part-time live-out maid:

  • If the maid is working for on a regular basis throughout the week, this can be an expensive option in comparison, the agencies usually charge between AED 35 – AED 40 per hour
  • It may not always be possible to have the same maid. Some families can find this disruptive and inconvenient as a bond is not formed with the family

What other options do I have?

 Full time live-out maids can also be hired.  The maid will still have a visa under your sponsorship but will live outside of your home. This can be ideal if you want a full time maid but are not comfortable with her living with you. Salaries are more expensive – usually a minimum of AED 2500 – AED 3000, as the maid will pay for her own accommodation, food and transport.

In the case of a live-out maid, you will still hold the same responsibilities as the employer (and sponsor).

Approximate Costs of hiring a maid:

  • Residency visa: AED 5,100
  • Refundable deposit: AED 2,000
  • Application, various service fees and medical test: AED 1,500
  • Government health card: AED 300

The above are approximate costs and can change. The visa must be renewed annually, as previously mentioned. The deposit will be carried over each year.


There are rules to follow and regulations to abide and we strongly recommend you make yourself aware of them before employing domestic help. Fines are severe if rules are broken (between AED 50,000 and 70,000) and a risk of prison for the sponsor. Maids also face fines, prison and deportation.

Read about Domestic help laws set by General Directorate of Resident and Foreign Affairs Dubai (DNRD) covering maids, nannies, male house helpers and drivers.