Andy note: ZaZa resides in Abu Dhabi and works as a recruiter for some of Middle East's largest sovereign wealth funds and.
Let's start with the basics - it's not like in the US. It's not like in Europe. The process sounds vaguely similar, the results more or else should be the same, but how you do it is way different. My first advice to you when you decide to come to the Middle East is start looking immediately. Do it whilst you still have a job or you are still in business school. It takes me on average, nine to twelve months to place a good candidate in one of the better sovereign wealth funds, banks or PEs.
The most interesting jobs out here are of course the sovereign wealth funds or other government entities, their contracts are government and that means even more paid in cash at the end of the month.
The split of pay works roughly like this: basic salary, housing allowance, transport allowance, end-of-service gratuity (this you get even if you leave on your own accord) and flights home. All of this is not taxed by the country at all, so depending on where you come from you will also save up on taxes. International companies work differently and on average pay lower in some cases significantly in comparison to the government entities.
In terms of salaries UAE -highest, Qatar - second, KSA is difficult tosince sometimes it comes highest sometimes it comes lowest of the three. The rest of the countries in the region are currently not as attractive: Oman and Jordan are both very pretty for tourism, but unfortunately struggling for economy, Bahrain's and Lebanon's situation is unrest. Kuwait sounds pretty strict, dry and not great fun with lower salaries than KSA, so not first choice either.
Now once you have started, identify the companies you are interested in and don't forget the large corporates in that list. For example if you are a Power & Energy junkie you can look at a company like TAQA or if you are into your Oil sector go for ENEC or ADNOC, Defence - Tawazun. They will have their corporate development units, internal advisory and project financing - all areas of great interesting experience.
Next step - get yourselves a real good LinkedIn account and I mean a real good one. Put your experience, interests and most importantly areas of expertise on there. I do most of my successful headhunting research online, which means either the PEs websites (if you are senior enough I will find your biography there), conferences (again f you are senor enough) or LinkedIn (that's for everyone). So if you are in a top tier, team, 2nd year analyst, let LinkedIn know about it (actually if you are that, please PM me your CV), so that I can find you when I need you. Now with LinkedIn we don't need your entire CV, we just need the general information, languages and education.
Once you have a good LinkedIn account (if you still haven't figured it out MENA hearts LinkedIn, just like Germans love their Xing) - start using it. Research the head of the team that you want to join and write him a beautiful introduction email. The response ratio here is so much higher than anywhere else I have been, you will actually get responses. If you don't want to pay for InMails, with most people you can simply guess their e-mail address. Read in the news: The new Head of Mergers & Acquisitions of National Bank of Abu Dhabi is... and you have a wonderful email address of [email protected]. Seriously done it before, it works.
Introduce yourself, in a wonderfully eloquent manner. If you happen to both love tennis talk about it, if you went to the same school say it, if you have nothing in common...you are not looking hard enough. I actually get so outrageous (I am ZaZa I can get away with it!) that I tell Italians how Italian food is the best in the world in my what-we-have-in-common part of my introduction email. (By the way the 'best food' works for most European Nationalities, except the British). Once you get noticed by a senior the process starts that is where you stay patient, keep in touch and go through the trials & tribulations they have in store for you.
Well this is nearly it, except I forgot to mention us the recruiters. We could sometimes be useful too, especially when you are taking your first steps in research, speak to us and we will tell you names of companies we work with, who is hiring. If we have the right opportunity for you, go through us its way easier than doing it on your own, but if we don't have it... trust only yourself. Simple example is that ADIA works with so many recruiters around the world, each team and sub division has their own preferred recruiter. I work only with the Private Equity, so I can easily not know what is going on in the Infrastructure team. This is where you come in and do it on your own.