Moving Abroad for Work: UAE and the
Finance Industry, 
contributed by Emma Lathom

According to the Quality of Life Report
conducted[i] by the Centre for Future Studies for Natwest, nearly 150,000
Britons are emigrating from the United
Kingdom each year. Encouraged by the ease of
contact with family and friends abroad via personal technology and mobile
devices, many British workers are looking for work abroad, particularly in
popular business locations such as the Australia and the UAE.

Popular destinations
The Quality of Life Report found that Australia and Canada[ii]
were the top two destinations for British expats, with Australia
coming out on top for Britons. Around 40,000 people move to Australia from the UK each year and the country now
has up to 1.2 million British expats. Despite the potentially high cost of
living, the sunny climate and high quality of life makes it a popular
destination amongst those seeking a fresh start.

According to the report, the UAE beat the US and Hong Kong[iii],
coming third on the list, with 75% of those surveyed suggesting that one of
their main reasons for moving there would be career opportunities. Dave Isley,
head of Natwest International Personal Banking[iv], suggests that this shift in
views is one of the most notable in many years, with a large number of Britons
stating that they’re willing to adjust their lifestyles in order to enjoy the
stronger economy and better job opportunities available in the UAE.

The benefits of UAE
The UAE has quickly become one of the
go-to destinations for British expats working within many industries. In
general, the lack of tax is beneficial for any expats looking to earn a good money while avoiding outgoings. However, job growth is also
causing Britons to flock to the country. According to the Monster Employment
Index for the Middle East, banking, financial
services and insurance[vi] sectors registered the maximum number of online job
opportunities in the UAE, with a 9% grow year-on-year. This growth is only
expected to increase after the UAE unveiled a new law[vii] that will aid job
creation across the emirates.

The new law, which is currently being
finalised, is aimed at boosting entrepreneurship using incentives as a means of
creating jobs for a growing population. UAE Finance Minister Sultan bin Saeed
Al-Mansouri says he believes that the law, which allocates 10% of the
development bank capital to go towards helping the businesses, will come into
effect within the second quarter of 2014, helping national and international
workers within the financial sector to create a business of their own.
Of course, those wishing to enter the UAEs
financial and accountancy sector via an already established company[viii] will
also benefit from the country’s recent boost in attention[ix] from across the
globe. According to Olivier Meier, senior mobility consultant at Mercer, an
increasing number of foreign workers are being sent to the UAE for both short
and long-term assignments due to the country’s new position as a key global
economic hub.

Why Dubai?
Within the Emirates, Dubai is rapidly becoming one of the most
popular expat destinations for finance and accountancy workers. The main draw
for expatriates to Dubai
is the zero rate of income tax, but financial workers are also attracted to the
country to take advantage of its rapidly growing financial sector and the
increasing job opportunities appearing as the industry booms.

This boom is partly down to the emirate’s
recently unveiled plan to become the Islamic economic hub[x]. In December 2013
the Dubai
government set up a new body for the financial sector, the Dubai Islamic
Economy Development Center. As part of Dubai’s
goal, the center will provide legal and other services to companies within the
Islamic banking industry, boosting growth and encouraging the emirate’s
transformation into an economic hub. However, this growth is leaving a shortage
of qualified workers in the sector, and so has prompted a search for talented
financial professionals.

In order to bridge this gap, many
institutions and companies within the banking industry are developing strong
intern programmes to provide hands-on training for younger bankers looking to
gain practical experience in Dubai.
Muneer Khan, a partner at law firm Simmons and Simmons Middle East[xi], has
highlighted the role that international workers should play in the development
of Dubai’s finance sector, suggesting that expatriate bankers are required to
help globalise the Islamic economic sector.

However, Mr Khan also stresses that many Dubai banks are unwilling
to hire international staff without the right experience. Managing director of
the Dubai International
Academic City[xii],
a free zone for international university campuses in Dubai, has highlighted the importance of
training and education within the Islamic economy, and argues that the emirate
is working hard to help international workers enter the industry. He suggested
that industry experts, government officials and leading academics are already
working together to identify the skills gaps within Dubai’s finance industry
and help national and international workers develop the required skills to meet
the sector’s needs.

[i] Gulf News
[ii] The Telegraph
[iii] Al Arabiya News
[iv] Natwest International
[v] Quotezone
[vi] Emirates 247
[vii] Arab News
[viii] United Arab Bank
[ix] Gulf News
[x] The International News
[xi] Simmons & Simmons
[xii] Dubai International Academy City