How to stand out for roles in Saudi Arabia or the UAE?

I'm a college student hailing from Egypt and soon to begin my studies at the prestigious KU Leuven in Belgium. My ultimate goal is to land a consulting job in the good ol' US of A, though I'm also considering other finance jobs. but we all know that the competition there is hotter than a desert heatwave! So, I'm setting my sights on Saudi Arabia or the UAE as my second-best option (yeah, ik it's very competitive there as well). They offer those sweet Gulf salaries that make European pay scales seem like loose change found between the couch cushions, besides, I want to witness MBS's Saudi Arabian renaissance in person. 

Now, here's the deal: I want to know what it takes to make myself a prime catch - or at least stand out for consulting firms in Saudi Arabia or the UAE. As an Arabic speaker and an egyptian, I already have a head start in terms of language and cultural understanding. But what else can I do to make myself stand out and boost my chances of landing a dream consulting role in the Gulf?

I'd love to get your insights on a few things:

What experiences, internships, or certifications should I pursue during my time at university that would make consulting firms or banks in Saudi Arabia or the UAE notice me? I realise that I'm not an Ivy Leaguer, but there must be something that can give me an edge. 

Also, let's not forget that my heart still beats for that American dream. If there's a chance to eventually make my way to the land of opportunity, I'm all for it. So, any advice on how to position myself for a future transition to the US, while gaining experience in Saudi Arabia or the UAE, would be greatly appreciated.

Most Helpful

You don’t need to be an ivy leager, you also have to be aware that you won’t be working for McKinsey. Set your sights at EY and Strategy& (or whatever booz is called now). You’ll compete well with other Arabs. Advice is go to KSA tough it out for a few years and save as much as you can, then get an MBA in the US and find a job that eventually sponsors and go from there.

I’m originally from the region (been stateside for 15 years), DM if you have any questions


Firms mentioned based on my understanding of size in GCC. Obviously apply everywhere and see what sticks. Referrals also work very well in that part of the world, so if you know someone that helps.

Finally, apply to UAE in general, not only Dubai. Also apply to Qatar. My preference would be KSA, but the rest are not far behind. Per my understanding, unlike the US, consultants do minimal travel there.


There are some key recruitment businesses that provide end-to-end services for staff who are looking to relocate to the UAE. Speak to them and see what they have to offer.
They have good relationships with local clients, will get you the visa, organize all interviews, and know more about latest developments within the employment scene.

A friend of mine moved from London to Dubai and is at BCG, he moved with the entire family and they are happy. The majority of the people moving to the UAE had substantial experience before doing so.
Quite a few retail banking/FS firms have built impressive offices in the Middle East in the last decade, among others Visa and Mastercard.


Not arab but i’m a us citizen and my parents came from east africa currently gonna be at MS in NYC for full time and was wondering what the transition is like if i want to be in MENA for long term (I speak arabic plus i’m muslim)


Earum porro optio nulla et cupiditate. Amet nihil sunt ducimus nobis corrupti.

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