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Accounting & finance skills in demand in the UAE

Written by: Gareth El Mettouri
Published on: 26 Mar 2014

Gareth is an Associate Director with specialist finance and accounting recruitment agency Robert Half. Gareth manages the operations for Robert Half across the Middle East.  

When looking for a new role in Finance and Accounting, have you ever considered relocating to the United Arab Emirates? In recent years, the kind of lifestyle the UAE can offer has been a considerable draw for many Accounting professionals.

Why move to the UAE?

The UAE boasts a large, highly-skilled, multicultural workforce, and offers tax-free earnings. The warm climate, excellent communication links to other financial centres and the fact that English is spoken as the primary business language make it an attractive proposition for many accountants in the UK.

One of the unique factors about the UAE is the huge diversity amongst the people. In 2010, only 16.5% of the residents were nationals. This means you will experience a real mix of cultures, languages and religions with ex-pats from a variety of countries.

Skills in demand.

It's a great time for finance professionals who are considering a move to the Middle East, with the region currently experiencing a strong job market. In a recent Robert Half survey, it was found that demand for accounting and finance staff remains high, with many roles in increased demand, and expatriate recruitment remains a priority in the Middle East.

A shortage of suitable candidates has sparked a 'war for talent', as companies unsuccessful at sourcing the required candidates locally are turning to international recruitment to fill business-critical roles.

Despite the UAE's efforts to recruit more local professionals in the region, companies are citing lack of local senior-level talent, inflated salary expectations, and a preference for Western education the primary factors preventing them recruiting locally.  This means that qualified finance professionals from the UK are becoming increasingly desirable.


The Robert Half 2014 Salary Guide shows that starting salaries in the Middle East are expected to increase an average of 3.8% next year.

Accountancy and Finance positions are expected to see the largest gains, with an anticipated 5% increase for newly hired workers.

Entry Requirements

Firstly, you will need to find a job! Robert Half has branches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi amongst others. Broadly speaking, you will then need to get a visa, a work permit and an Emirates ID card. Your employer may well apply for these on your behalf. If you are moving with your partner or family, you will also need a residence visa. You can find full entry requirements on the UK Government site

Returning to the UK

Employers also appreciate the skills and knowledge that can be acquired operating overseas, as we found in a recent study. Almost 60% of financial services leaders surveyed said an employee's chances of promotion 'improve greatly' if they have worked abroad. So, if you do decide to make the break, but then return to the UK at some point in the future, you'll be pleased to know that your time abroad will probably improve your job prospects on your return. 

For the latest opportunities from Robert Half click here

For the latest opportunities in the Dubai click here and Abu Dhabi click here

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