Working in the Dubai Office?

Recruiting for consulting FT next year and I'd like some insight into the Dubai office for MBB firms and T2. Are the requirements different? What's typical work, I'm guessing Government/O&G projects? Is the pay better? Is it 'easier' to get into? Most employers in UAE provide expats with a house, would these firms do so?

Im based in London and I'm a 2nd year (going into last year) at a target

Comments (8)

May 1, 2020 - 12:16pm

Hey there, incoming first year at MBB in Dubai from target undergrad program (and American). During recruitment, interviewed with two MBB Middle East offices. Can definitely share some insight on this, based on what I've learned from this and friends' experience.

*Are the requirements different? Is it easier to get into?
Maybe, and not easier. The interviews were brutal and I knew other stellar candidates that weren't as lucky as me. And with any international opportunity, I suppose, you'll want to have a compelling reasons during recruitment for wanting to uproot and live in the Gulf for a while. Maintaining or improving their turnover rate might be an important metric in hiring. For example, for me, taking Arabic was key I think; the associated time investment and dedication suggests a genuine interest in the region, rather than someone who might be applying with other intentions. (There isn't a local language requirement, by the way... but if you speak multiple languages proficiently, that generally seems to be a big plus).

*What's the typical work like?
Your intuition is right, all MBBs take a lot of public sector clients and energy projects in this region. Bain seems to currently have more robust private sector practices, whereas the other two are more focused on public sector projects.

*Is the pay better?
Probably depends on your tax situation, and frankly I'm not exactly sure what my liability is as an American. Pre-tax income obviously not as high as major US cities... not sure how compensation stacks up by city. There is some kind of income tax exemption for American expats, which I think allows for up to 100k no-tax. That's obviously a huge plus.

Again, just now thinking about securing housing. Real estate is pretty attractive right now in the city, as you may know. So rent is very reasonable. I'd guess the exact relocation processes differ between firms.

Hope that clears some of your questions- let me know if you have others. Been meaning to sign up for a while, and your post gave me that last push so thanks

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Aug 25, 2020 - 7:08pm

is it quite hard to move back to NY/London office from the ME office? if you work at the ME, do they pay for your MBA at M7? 

how is it going? 

May 2, 2020 - 3:10am

I too am an incoming FT pre MBA recruit for MBB out of a target school in the US (also am an American), can confirm every point above. Less base but you'll come out slightly on top (relative to a US office) if you take advantage of the foreign income tax exclusion. As for housing, they provide slight assistance finding housing but you're pretty much on your own after that.

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Most Helpful
May 5, 2020 - 12:31pm

Working in Dubai at the moment.

If you are not a US citizen, you don't have to pay any income tax.
Furthermore, all the major consultancies (MBB + T2) provide a generous housing allowance (~20-50k EUR/year depending on level) or just offer to pay for your rent directly.
Last, clients are (at least up until now) much less cost-concious, so the expense policy is far more relaxed than in European offices. Consultants typically stay in the most expensive hotels you can find, which makes it very easy to grow your points & miles balance.

So as long as you don't have to pay taxes in the US, the all-in net salary is significantly better on all levels, and the gap gets increasingly wider the more senior you become.

One thing that might be lesss attractive are the non B-school exit opportunities. Hiring ex-consultants foir leadership positions is still much less common than elsewhere and often requires fluency in Arabic. So most consultants who come here either see it as an opportunity to make good money for a while before transferring back to their home country, or see consulting as a more mid- to long-term gig rather than the typical 2/3-year springboard into a corporate job

Jan 12, 2021 - 11:21am

Thanks for this, great info to have. Hoping to head over to Dubai/Abu Dhabi in the next year for a stint. May be able to get a transfer internally but trying to gauge my options of that doesn't work out.

Any insight whether Arabic is required or not for associate positions? (McKinsey requires it in some of their job postings but not sure about the others). Don't want to start cramming to learn a language if it's not necessary, although it will probably help my chances of being hired.

Thanks again for the points above!

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