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

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.


Comments (67)

Feb 19, 2015 - 9:34am

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 - 12:29am

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 :)

Feb 23, 2015 - 7:58am

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.

Feb 24, 2015 - 11:16am

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)

Feb 24, 2015 - 12:19pm


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 23, 2015 - 10:40am

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.
  • 1
Feb 24, 2015 - 1:21pm

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 - 9:12am

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...

Feb 26, 2015 - 12:55am

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 - 2:01pm

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
May 29, 2016 - 2:41pm

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 - 2:51pm

is consulting expanding like crazy in middle east? (Originally Posted: 10/27/2010)

It is about consulting job opportunities in the middle east.

For instance, atkearney keeps saying we are growing in the region like crazy, and therefore we are aggressively that true?

Do you know if the other main players in middle east (MBB and booz and monitor) are recruiting heavily? I know many of them have expended lately their ME presence by getting new offices in different cities in the middle east.

Moreover where do they stand as headcount?


May 29, 2016 - 3:11pm

MBB in the middle east. What are the odds? (Originally Posted: 05/03/2013)

Im a mid eastern (born and raised). 28. My undergrad was in computer science from a tier 2 public school in the US with a not bad gpa. I have a full year of training in accounting, corporate finance, general management. Im prepping to write part 1 cma exam in early june and part 2 in september. Did the gmat and got a 730.

This is my 5th year at a government fund. I have been fast tracked from an assistant analyst (trainee) to a consultant and have been an acting team lead for a year now.

I love what I'm doing but im severly underpaid and the learning curve is slowing down to the extent that it's becoming just more of the same (new people, different situations, ...etc). Im considering to move to a local office of an MBB.

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. Or so i heard.

Now comes the question: do i stand a chance? I have no idea who i'm competing with, but i heard that mck office is looking for local talents (have no idea about the others).

How do i go about applying? Do i have to have a connection to get an interview?

All thoughts are appreciated.

May 29, 2016 - 3:12pm

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 - 3:13pm

"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.


May 29, 2016 - 3:20pm

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 - 3:21pm

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.


May 29, 2016 - 3:23pm

Chances at MBB Middle East - final countdown (Originally Posted: 10/07/2009)

I'm a 4th year at Rotman Commerce. After 2 great internships and loads of extracurriculars (several leading positions) I was encouraged by my friends to go after an MBB job. However, my transcript displays a relatively low 3.2.
One of the big 3 came to recruit for Middle east positions recently and I decided to attend the info session, after having some great conversations with their staff and international lead recruiter.. I decided to apply. I tried really hard to make an impression and it seemed that they liked me - their decision (I was told) will be made this week.
Am I shooting for an unreachable dream or is it even remotely possible that they'll consider me for an intv?

thoughts/comments are appreciated.

May 29, 2016 - 3:24pm

Are you asking because you want some reassurance or some sense of reality in the one week time span you have to wait? Not trying to be a bitch here, but you'll have your answer soon enough right?

I guess I can tell you what I've seen from when I was going through recruiting (I've never considered it, so this is all from observing others). People considered for MBB were typically your top 5-10% in class types, where the mark is pretty important (maybe more so than compared to banking, where i've seen individuals with not very competitive gpas but very good experience still get interviews and offers - this is still during the boom phase). I know of only one guy who got an internship at a MBB outside of NA who grades-wise is not competitive (probably below 3.5) but very good ECs. For whatever reason, he isn't there for FT.

3.2 is pretty low for MBB... so unless your internships were with another consulting firm, banking, maybe something very unique, etc. it will be tough. That said, if you don't hear from them after a week, reach out to someone at the MBB you had a good rapport with. Got nothing to lose right? Good luck; would be interested in how it turns out for you.

May 29, 2016 - 3:25pm

I know I wouldnt have a chance at any of the north american offices. For these specific two they said they would "hire as many qualified candidates as they had available". Apparently they're running at capacity atm and looking for new talent like there's no tomorrow.

I guess what I'm looking for is an assessment of the recruiting standards in these emerging market offices, I'm assuming it's not the same to recruit for NY than for the Middle East. I'm just really really hoping factors 1) it's not an office everyone applies to and 2) I have a very strong resume besides the one line which displays my GPA... can be strong enough to get me an intv.

May 29, 2016 - 3:26pm

in the me, its all about contacts,

i know quite a few people who wouldn't cut it working at walmart who work for bb's and mbb's in the me.

its all about who you know.

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