Background: New dental schools have been established to train dentists in many parts of the world. This study examines the future dental workforce from the first dental school in the United Arab Emirates [UAE]; the aim of this study was to explore the short and long-term career aspirations of the final year dental students in the UAE in relation to their demography.Method: Final year dental students of the Ajman University's College of Dentistry (n=87) were invited to participate in a self-completion questionnaire survey. Descriptive analysis, chi-square tests, and binary logistic regression analysis were carried out on career aspirations using SPSS v20.Results: Eighty-two percent of students (n=71) responded, the majority of whom were female (65%; n=46). Ethnicity was reported as: 'other Arab' (61%; n=43), 'Emirati' (17%, n=12), and 'Other' (21%, n=15). In the short-term, 41% (n=29) expressed a desire to work in government training centres, with Emirati students significantly more likely to do so (p=0.002). 'Financial stability' (80%; n=57) and 'gaining professional experience' (76%; n=54) emerged as the most important influences on their short-term career plans. The vast majority of students wished to specialise in dentistry (92%; n=65) in the longer term; logistic regression analysis revealed that the odds of specialising in the most popular specialties of Orthodontics and Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery were less for the 'Other' ethnic group when compared with 'Emirati' students (0.26; 95% CI 0.068-0.989; p=0.04). Almost three-quarters of the students overall (72%; n=51) intended to work full-time. 'High income/financial security' (97%; n=69), 'standard of living' (97%; n=69), 'work/life balance' (94%; n=67), and 'professional fulfilment' (87%; n=62) were reported by the students as the most influential items affecting their long-term professional career choices.Conclusion: The findings suggest that students aspire to make a long-term contribution to the profession and there is a high level of interest in specialisation with a desire to achieve financial stability and quality of life. © 2013 Rashid et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.