A Guide to Moving Abroad for Recently Qualified Accountants…Dubai

A Guide to Moving Abroad for Recently Qualified Accountants…Dubai

Next up in our guides to moving abroad for recently qualified accountants, Brian O’Connor ACA, Senior Associate with Barden and expert in recently qualified accountants careers, chats to Ed Heffernan, Managing Partner with Barden, who shares THE best advice when moving to Dubai.

So Ed, who’s our on the ground Dubai specialist?

I chatted to Conor McHugh ACCA. He trained in Dublin then moved into recruitment. He has been in Dubai for the last 5 years, most recently founding his own firm specialising in accounting recruitment.

What is the market ACTUALLY like in Dubai at the moment?

The market is fairly buoyant for newly qualified accountants, in particular Conor and his team have made quite a lot of placements in this space in the last 6 months. However, the market will slow down in the summer as a lot of senior decision makers go on holidays so recruitment slows down a lot in Q3 in particular.

What kind of roles do qualified accountants typically move into when they go to Dubai?

The big difference in Dubai is that job titles are very different than here in Ireland. In general most newly qualified accountants will move into roles usually called ‘Accountant’ or ‘Senior Accountant’, as opposed to the Irish model where usually it’s a financial accountant or financial/FP&A analyst. These roles do sometimes crop up in Dubai but not as common as Ireland.

The big point to note is that finance teams in Dubai are usually a lot smaller than in Ireland so there is not that many sole controllership or FP&A teams, meaning a senior accountant for example will sometimes do a mix of both roles. The roles in Dubai are usually more broad in terms of scope than a fixed role that maybe in Ireland.

Do people typically take on permanent or contract jobs when they move over?

99% of roles are permanent in Dubai, there is no real contract market here due to the labour law. Clients focus on permanent hires. This is turn means processes are usually a bit longer in Dubai as opposed to a contract market where candidates could get offered a job in one interview.

Is there anything from a VISA point of view that I should be aware of and how does sponsorship work?

You will get a Visa on arrival at Dubai airport which covers you for 3 months, then you can get an increase if needed. Once you get a job the hiring company will get you a working visa at the companies expense. This Visa is for 3 years and is renewed without any issues if you stay with company.

Should I try to get a job before I move over or when I arrive?

Most candidates would prefer to get something before they land but the reality of the market is there is so many immediately available Irish candidates who move over here without a job (many have a partner who is a teacher for example so accommodation is covered) so clients rather candidates who are on the ground and can start straight away.

How long does it usually take to get a job in Dubai?

I would say from the minute you have first interview to when you are sat at your desk it can be form a minimum of 6 weeks up to 12 weeks. Things can be a bit slower in the middle east.

What experience is seen as being particularly valuable for companies taking on qualified accountants moving to Dubai? (Is experience outside practice really useful?)

Good social skills, being clear and good communicator. In Dubai it’s extremely multi-cultural so you need to be able to get on and work with people from lots of different places and cultures.

What is the average pay rate for a recently qualified accountant in Dubai?

AED15k – AED18k per month. Everything here is done in monthly tax free salary.

What is the best time of year to get hired?

Q4, Q1, Q2 and Q4. It’s best not to try in the summer as it’s too hot and the market slows up.

What 3 tips would you give to a recently qualified accountant looking to relocate to Dubai from Ireland?

  • Get your degrees attested as it will speed up your on-boarding process.
  • If you have strong academics (first time passes, 500+ points) make sure it can be seen on CV as naturally candidates won’t have much work experience so leverage on what you have achieved.
  • Save money to keep you a float for 3-6 months as if you are serious about Dubai you will most likely need to move here without a job to secure one. 


About Ed…

Ed Heffernan is Managing Partner of Barden Ireland. In 2014 he founded Barden, with Elaine Brady. He has worked for many years in recruitment both locally and internationally, within the accounting and tax space.

Ed has worked with 1000s of accountants nationally on career moves and is a regular contributor to industry publications, including Accountancy Ireland & Accountancy Plus.

A UCC grad Ed holds a number of qualifications in personnel management, human resources and later completed an MBA with Trinity College Dublin.

Contact Ed at ed.heffernan@barden.ie or via LinkedIn.


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