Consulting in the Middle East - Lot of hiring in Dubai?

nancy.mm.drew's picture
Rank: Chimp | 7

Hi all

I've heard anecdotally that there is a lot of hiring for MBB in Dubai. I'd really like to hear from any folks who have interviewed or worked there and can share what it's like.
I have a MBA from a targeted school, and have been working in internal strategy in FS (North America) for the past 3 yrs. I'm looking to switch to consulting and debating which offices to apply to.

thanks

Comments (66)

Feb 18, 2015

Try Oliver Wyman in dubai. I heard they have a strong FS strategy practice over there

Feb 19, 2015

Strategy& has the strongest practice in the ME (they were one of the first to strengthen efforts over there) with McKinsey, OW and RB also being relatively strongly represented. Bain and BCG are less active there, although if you have the intention of returning to the US the brand names would still be strong of course.

If you don't have any connections in the area, and don't come from that region /don't speak Arabic, you might have a difficult time getting an interview.

Let me know if you have any specific questions or feel free to contact me by e-mail.

Feb 23, 2015

Hi, i am currently working in the consulting industry in the Middle East. Oliver Wyman does not really have a footprint here, just recently they started hirinf (12 months contract).

McKinsey and BCG have been here for a while and doing well. Strategy& were rocking the region when they were booz, not really sure how they're doing now as Strategy&. ATKearney also have a strong presence. Regarding RB, i honestly only saw their name in one bid only, they're not very active. I have not heard Bains' name in any bid or any client but i know they have an office here.

The most active are the big4 and Accenture. Even KPMG is doing not so bad. EY PwC and Deloitte are doing very well here, they weren't big on strategy, but ever since Deloitte got monitor and PwC got booz things have changed and the 2 get short listed in bids all the time for strategy work.

hope that helps! let me know if you need any more information :)

Mar 8, 2015

OW has an office with 150 consultants. They have been there for over 10 years now.

Feb 23, 2015

Telling people to join KPMG, Deloitte, ey, etc. if they want to do strategy consulting is the worst advice you can give.
Even if they pitch for the same projects, it is a different kind of work they are doing.
I see these companies pitch against us all the time and honestly quite a few times in the last years, they have also won the contracts. However, so far the reason has always been lower prices or specalist knowledge (especially IT or regulations) - these are things that the regular WSO poster does not really want to be known for.

Dont get me wrong, I do believe these companies are good and if you are looking for a certain type of consulting they can be a great fit (good pay, relatively good work-life balance, stable career progression,...). It's just if you are looking for the fast-paced, highly intensive (often to unhealthy levels) strategy consulting work with all its pro's and con's, these are not the right companies for you.

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Feb 24, 2015

What's that monkey shit about?

Telling someone who wants to do "Investment Banking" to start a job in risk management at one of the big banks because that is a growing business is bad advice (it is not what the person aims for or wanted to do in the first place).
The same goes for recommending Big 4 consulting to people with the ambition to become a strategy consultant.

It is still a good job, but it is almost an entirely different profession. (Source: I've done both)

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Feb 24, 2015
atleastimnotabanker:

What's that monkey shit about?

Telling someone who wants to do "Investment Banking" to start a job in risk management at one of the big banks because that is a growing business is bad advice (it is not what the person aims for or wanted to do in the first place).

The same goes for recommending Big 4 consulting to people with the ambition to become a strategy consultant.

It is still a good job, but it is almost an entirely different profession. (Source: I've done both)

Strategy& and Deloitte S&O do almost as much strategy work as MBB nowadays (and only 30% of MBB work is strategy work currently). The world has changed, and your posts are inaccurate, which is why people are probably MS'ing you.

Feb 24, 2015

deleted

Feb 23, 2015

Having been invited to MBB offices in the region, I can say that most people I met tended to have MBA's from target schools. As I'm not at that level nor particularly interested in consulting at this particular stage, I can only tell you that they tend to work on a lot of govt. projects / energy sector (please someone correct me if I'm wrong). Also, key things to remember is that it will involve a lot of travelling (GCC) - won't actually spend much time in Dubai (especially not during the week), Arabic is not essential and as far as I could make out, Dubai is not any easier to break into than other locations. As for OW, they recently set up a couple of years ago and only took a handful of FT from undergrad pool for 2015 intake (not sure about MBA's).

But apart from that, it's friken Dubai! The weather is good (unless you're not man enough to handle the heat), the bitches are fine and there is a Cheesecake Factory located in the mall. However, be warned, your sight may become impaired due to the obscene amount of phantoms and Bugattis sprayed in the most unusual of colours (pink, lime, rainbow - you name it). If you're not materialistic, you will be by the end of your tenure.

Bitch please, I love bananas! If you found my advice useful, hit me up with one.

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Feb 24, 2015

I've never been to Dubai, but I have friends that are from the region and you are right about the material things. I went to school with Arabs that lived in $3K 1 bedroom apartments, driving Ferrari's, BMW's, etc you name it they drove it. Not hating at all, I loved partying with them. Fun people. You will have a blast there!

Greed is Good!

Feb 24, 2015

Jesus, who would in their sane mind want to stay in Dubai? That place is even worse than Singapore, fun for a weekend, but extremely boring over a longer term...
that being said, MBs are growing quickly there, mainly public, energy and sometimes telco staff, though do not expect to do a lot of work in Dubai itself, you will be all over the place (Saudi, Oman, Egypt, ...), but good experience for couple of months...

Best Response
Feb 25, 2015

Hi,
I have recently been through the interview process with consulting firms in Dubai, don't hesitate to contact me if u decide to apply and want more details :)

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Feb 26, 2015

after reading the posts above, i would like to clarify a few points.
EY strategy does not exist in the middle east.
KPMG consulting in the middle east revolves around technology.
If you want to do strategy in Deloitte and PwC you need to apply for Monitor and Strategy&, you dont get to join S&O/ PwC consulting and then get aligned to strategy. This is mainly due to the fact that PwC and Deloitte follow the UK model of PwC and Deloitte UK (PwC UK owns PwC middle east and Deloitte UK is heavily involved in Deloitte middle east).

The big offices of Deloitte and PwC are in Abu Dhabi and not Dubai.

That being said, and given your target school MBA and in-house strategy experience, i highly doubt you would want to join any of the big4. Even Accenture (which is also big in the middle east).

Going back to MBB, the offices are in Dubai but as someone mentioned above, you'll probably be travelling 90% of your time to other gulf countries (which sucks really). 90% of the projects revolves around public sector, telcos and financial services.

MBB also bid on operational projects, i know BCG did some restructuring engagements to a couple of government entities for example.

Hope this helps :)

Mar 6, 2015

I looked at transferring from London to Dubai with McKinsey for family reasons. In the end I decided not to because I was advised there would have been a lot of travel to places I didn't want to spend much time in- mostly Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

There's not actually many projects in the UAE itself in contrast to an office like London where there's a ton of options to avoid travel if you don't mind too much what projects you take.

I previously worked for McKinsey in London and have started a blog about consulting and how to get into it at www.theconsultingcoach.com

May 29, 2016

they hire, but pay like shit. Interns get around $400 per month..

May 29, 2016

Disclaimer: Interned at Booz (now Strategy&) years ago and still have good connections to the people working there.

Booz and McKinsey were the two strongest players during my time with Booz. Today, Strategy& is still one of the strongest players, probably within the Top 3, but other players have also increased their presence as well. Especially BCG and Bain are also quite big meanwhile. Never heard anything about substantial appearance of Oliver Wyman - I know they have been involved in a few telco deals in Saudi Arabia lately, that's it.

I think if you want to work in Dubai the usual suspects, M/B/B and Strategy& are a good place to be.

May 29, 2016

My cousin is with PWC in Oman. He loves it, said half the year is super busy, the other half is quiet. He also says it seems to be picking up. Do you have any specific questions that I could forward to him?

May 29, 2016

booz is the only real player in the region, every1 else is an afterthought

May 29, 2016

Booz is largest though losing share (heard ~500 consulting staff...though they do a lot of long-term design/implementation so the consultant profile may be a bit different)...McK is second ~250 consultants...BCG at ~100, Bain at ~80....OW strong in telco (don't know size), Monitor and ATK have been picking up some steam...Arthur D. Little has been around a while...Roland Berger was in Bahrain..but things are very dicey now....my two cents..happy to hear from others who have more current info.

May 29, 2016
seekingalpha2:

Booz is largest though losing share (heard ~500 consulting staff...though they do a lot of long-term design/implementation so the consultant profile may be a bit different)...McK is second ~250 consultants...BCG at ~100, Bain at ~80....OW strong in telco (don't know size), Monitor and ATK have been picking up some steam...Arthur D. Little has been around a while...Roland Berger was in Bahrain..but things are very dicey now....my two cents..happy to hear from others who have more current info.

This seems pretty accurate. A lot of these firms had ambitious growth strategies but the crisis slowed things down considerably, and now all the pro democracy protests in the region have hurt them even further.

Some firms have frozen recruitment until things settle, while others are relocating people from places which have been hit hard like Egypt, Libya and Bahrain to more stable countries like UAE/Saudi/Qatar.

In general, OW is growing rapidly; they just opened an Abu Dhabi office and merged with OC&C. Roland Berger is a small team based all over the ME, currently has some projects in Saudi Arabia and trying to expand into the Turkish market. ATK and Monitor are recruiting, and there are/were rumors that ATK would merge with Booz. Nothing exciting going on at MBB... I'm only aware that Bain is hiring senior people which should create quite a few job opportunities for people looking to get in at entry/grad level.

As for Big 4 Advisory: EY and Deloitte are expanding, KPMG is hiring in certain areas like Saudi and PwC is probably going to be firing people soon.

The above is what I've heard from various people at these firms, so some of it may be inaccurate.

The most dynamic places in the ME are currently Saudi Arabia (especially Eastern Province), Qatar and to some extent the UAE. Historically Financial Services was one of the top industries in the region but this is obviously not the case currently. I'd personally focus on Oil/Gas, Telecom and/or Healthcare.

I see lots of opportunities for all these companies now, given many firms need restructuring and revised strategies. There's also some deal flow in the places I mentioned above, especially compared to last year, so we'll start seeing some PMI type work and everything else related to that. The major challenge will be dealing with low fees as clients will not be willing or able to pay too much, and the outcome of the current wave of rebellion throughout the Middle East.

May 29, 2016

*

May 29, 2016

if you haven't seen this, not really relevant but a curious read
http://tech.mit.edu/V130/N18/dubai.html

May 29, 2016

that article's been beaten into the ground. Wouldn't take anything it says as fact unless confirmed by at least 3 other sources - the guy hated consulting and the ME and got fired for tweeting or blogging about his client or some shit.

Plus, my friends at MIT who knew the guy thought he was a few fuel rods short of a nuclear reactor, for whatever that's worth.

May 29, 2016

ditto bleedblue...the story is a non-story

May 29, 2016

I know that booz already has a significant presence in the Middle east. They also came to recruit at my school this year specifically for the region.

One of their officies there has a few hundred in headcount I was told (I was told the exact number but I forgot what it was, smthing like 75->200), and they get really nice perks. (got to have lunch in their offices once).

I also know that they get a lot of work, and that their hours can get very crazy.

May 29, 2016

booz is dominent in the region.. most shops are downsizing in the ME right now actually given recent troubles

May 29, 2016

afalcon, which troubles are those? the market is doing fine now in the ME it seems

May 29, 2016

I've done some research as I'm attempting to get a job at Booz in the middle east. From what I understand is that there about 500 employees in Booz in 6 offices across the MENA region. This is more than MBB combined. Work is spread across the middle east in all the countries. The work is heavier but the perks are nice, and the 5 star hotels in the middle east would be 6 star in the U.S. I spoke to a number of associates at Booz and they all seem to enjoy their work, with no complaints. It's also very mixed with approximately over 30 nationalities among their 500 people. The work is engaging, even some consulting on projects of building cities from scratch. It seems to be back on track to booming with a number of projects starting up.

Troubles wise, Dubai went through a number of challenges as their market and real estate collapsed, and Abu Dhabi had to bail them out. But they seem to be back on track, with real estate back up to pre 2007 numbers and projects being rebooted.

May 29, 2016
azima:

\
with real estate back up to pre 2007 numbers and projects being rebooted.

Real estate will never reach 2007 numbers in Dubai. Living here, I know for a fact that rents and house prices are about 60-75% of the peak for good projects, and 50% of thereabouts for the not-so-good ones.
In general, business is rebounding in Dubai. BUT, it is NOT good yet. Abu DHabi, Qatar, and saudi Arabia are the growth drivers of MENA right now

May 29, 2016

I actually got the real estate info from an announcement from Nakheel's CEO which was probably overinflated for propaganda purposes lol. But I talked to a consultant in the middle east yesterday who mentioned that it hasn't started to recover and has just bottomed out, but hasn't climbed back up yet.

May 29, 2016

Your headcount numbers sound about right. I've heard ~500 Booz, ~250 McK, ~100 BCG and Bain. The Booz numbers may be inflated since prior to the break up with Booz Allen Hamilton, they had a lot of process/implementation personnel, some of whom are still around to carry on their transformation projects. In the the short-term Booz Middle East will be a high impact ride, though with the worst work-life balance among the other firms. In the long term, you may find becoming partner a challenge if you are not Lebanese. They've been around for more than 20 years with only one non-Lebanese partner. Not really PC but the numbers are the numbers.

May 29, 2016

Consulting in the middle east is picking up, but it's still not a very good market. It's definitely not 'expanding like crazy'. There is a lot of recruitmeng going on, but it's not so much growth related, they're just replacing all the people who have left, or are leaving. MBB are limiting intake, while other boutique shops do have a few openings. In the consulting space, the biggest growth in the ME is from the Big 4, not so much from your pure strategy houses.

All in all, I would not recommend working in the ME. Clients are cheap and boring, you constantly have to educate people like CEO's in basic business principles and the perks are generally not as good as they seem. There's a BCG article circulating (written by some kid from MIT) claiming he made around $200k at BCG in Dubai right out of undergrad, which is utter BS. None of the HBS/Wharton people in consulting/ibanking that I know in the ME make that much even 2-3+ years post mba.

If you want to go abroad and work in emerging economies, I would suggest Brazil, Turkey and Russia (maybe China too, but I would avoid India for various reasons). Each of them has top companies, entertainment (food/nightlife/culture) and dynamic economies. ME is a snoozefest.

May 29, 2016

what about at kearney and monitor in middle east? are they hiring? at kearney keep saying we are in need like crazy for people, but not sure if that is correct.

May 29, 2016

Kearney, Monitor and Arthur D. Little are making the head hunting rounds

May 29, 2016

@ seekingalpha2: are you working in Middle East. ust curious, what is your source for each company in the area?

moreover, what is the size of at kearney and monitor and arthur d little in the area?

May 29, 2016

@antoniao - I have worked in the Middle East and still have a good network...don't really now about ATK, Monitor and ADL.

May 29, 2016

@ seekingalpha2: do you know if BCG in the area is looking for associates? and are they looking for large numbers?

May 29, 2016

From what I hear M/B/B are scaling back their numbers for 2011

May 29, 2016

why you think they are doing so? there is no much work?

May 29, 2016

different reasons for different firms...it is no secret that for most firms 2010 was not a stellar year...I also think that in light of the economy, it has been much easier to hit recruiting targets

May 29, 2016

but bcg in the area in the last few months kept saying we are really in need of people. I m not sure if it is propaganda or what? what do you think?

May 29, 2016

all firms are in need of good people - the issue is how many good people are they going to hire - I am in no position to tell you the specific numbers (if anyone outside of BCG tells you they know they are lying) - that said it is going to be a tough year to get in..that's my read

May 29, 2016

how is situation in ME now?
any updates?

May 29, 2016

Couple of rndom thoughts:
1. Getting JPMorgan on your resume is important - consultants need to see something familiar & prestigious there, hopefully it will alleviate some of the public sector stigma
2. Since you have been working on loans to manufacturing players for a few years, do you know a lot about the manufacturing sector of your country? Expertise is something what consultancies crave in experienced hires.
3. Is the agency you work for considered sexy? Once again, prestige
4. U.S. education might be an important selling point. In my developing country MBB love this stuff.

Overall, chances are slim, but with solid preparation and networking, way higher if you try than if you don't.

May 29, 2016

Andres:

1. I agree. I think I'll go for JPMorgan Chase training program and hopefully it'll play to my favor.

2. I do have a fair bit of knowledge about the sectors I worked on. I evaluated tens of new businesses and turnaround strategies for failing ones. And I built a few models that helped preserve the big picture and never get sucked into the details and lose what's happening on the macro level. So yeah I think I may have an advantage having invested a ton of time and effort trying to figure out industries and particular project cases.

3. Not really. However, it's totally unique in the sense that I have never seen any organization that does what my organization does. And the responsibilities assigned to us require us to know minute details or at least be very familiar with the markets, machinery manufacturers, raw material suppliers, import and export regulations, joint ventures, and a ton of other things that we should consider as part of our job beside understanding credit and risk. For that reason, people desperately try to get into it, get a ton of off-job (in the beginning) and on-job training and then go to the private sector with a ton of knowledge and skill. That's where the value of working for the organization is.

Thanks for your input. You raised great points.

Appreciated.

May 29, 2016

"The 3 firms have a lot of business in my country, and they are engaged in a ton of lucrative projects with the government. The government puts a ton of pressure on them to hire locals."... it sounds like Dubai to me.

If you are Emirati, you might have a shot at any MBB in Dubai; most people there are foreigners and finding hard-working qualified locals is hard as you know.

Apply.

May 29, 2016

FreezingEmail:

Nope. I'm from its big sister. However I wouldn't mind relocating to Dubai. So I'll take that into consideration.

Thanks!

May 29, 2016

Isn't Booz big in the middle east, too?

May 29, 2016

BigPicture:

I honestly don't know. However I noticed that a fair number of the projects I worked on are Booz & Co.'s clients. I wondered the same thing for some time until I lost interest before I even tried to know.

May 29, 2016

Booz are as big/renowned as MBB in the middle east. You should give them a look.

May 29, 2016

Hi OP,

Bain has been doing well recently and is expanding.

May 29, 2016

Fellow middle eastern here, working in Private Equity.

Let me guess,, you work at either SIDF or PIF in Saudi?

I say def wait until after your training course with JPmorgan before trying to move anywhere.

May 29, 2016

I assume you are SIDF credit analyst based on your description.
I'd say after 5 years of experience, you would have a better shot with an MBA. And you already have what it take for a top 10 MBA programs given your GMAT score , experience , ... etc.

I know someone who has the same experience you had, from the same place , except that his tenure was only 3 years, followed by an MBA from top 20 program in the US. He is now a consultant in in MBB.

Best,

May 29, 2016
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