Looking for opportunities in UAE? This financial recruiter gives us an overview of the job market.

finance job opportunities in UAE in 2023

Sheikh Mohammed, Prime Minister of the UAE proposed an economic plan worth AED32 trillion ($8.7 trillion).

We spoke to Conor McHugh, Founder of Alchemy Search, a specialist in financial recruitment in the UAE, to gain insights.

Here are the industries in the UAE that continue to hire extensively amid global layoffs.

Can you tell us about your background and why you decided to start Alchemy Search?

I am a Chartered Certified Accountant from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). 

As part of my ACCA course, I pursued my practical training at KPMG and started my career in the industry. After two short stints as Financial Reporter, Business Analyst in Dublin, Ireland, I moved to Robert Walters in London, UK.

The Robert Walters Group is a British recruitment firm specialising in the placement of professionals in permanent, contract, and temporary employment. 

I started in consulting and worked in London for almost 2 years before getting transferred to Dubai, UAE. 

Along the way, I figured out that a career in Finance was not for me. I had seen a huge gap in the market for Specialist Financial Recruiters. Having a well-recognized Accounting qualification, I understood the requirements of CFOs, or finance directors looking for talent. 

That gave me the idea to start something of my own in financial recruitment and that's how Alchemy Search was founded.

Alchemy Search is a dedicated, regional specialist in financial recruitment, focused on Accounting, Corporate Finance, Tax and Risk appointments. Since its inception in August 2021, we have grown to a 9-member team. 

What makes us different is that we have 5 qualified accountants in our team. It has worked quite well so far. 

What was the UAE Finance Recruitment Review for 2022, as per Alchemy Search’s data?   

2022 was quite a rollercoaster of a year but it was more positive than negative. 

What makes the UAE hiring scenario different is its seasonal recruitment

If you look at our graph you'd see that in January 2022 the hiring picked up, as hiring managers were back from spending holidays with their kids.     

May and June saw a big surge in recruitment as everyone came back to the office after the Ramadan break. 

Many expats get out of the UAE in July due to the summer heat, on top of that, there are school holidays. Hiring Managers with kids were not able to come to the office, which caused a big drop in recruitment.  

We had tremendous revenue in October and thought we were on track for a big finish to the end of the year. But we were quickly brought back to earth with a significant drop in revenue in November.

December was our worst month of the year in terms of generated revenue majorly due to the Christmas holidays. 

I am confident that the graphs of hiring in 2023 would have the same trajectory as in 2022. 

2022 Revenue of Alchemy Search

What industries hired the most in 2022 as per Alchemy Search’s data? Do you see similar trends in 2023?

According to Alchemy Search’s data, the following industries hired employees consistently throughout the year:

  • Consultancy
  • Professional Services (LAe firms, Management Consultancy)
  • Fintech
  • Oil & Gas
  • E-Commerce

Here is a breakdown of our quarterly recruitment stats. 

From Q4 

Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) - 33%: The headcount for the Big 4 firms is a lot higher. But Grant Thornton is growing the fastest in terms of consultancy practice. 

In 2023, reportedly BDO is going to hire a lot in the area of tax in the upcoming months. Boutique Firms such as Crowe, Alvarez and Marsal, Teneo, and FTI Consulting are on a hiring spree as well.

Government - 22%  

Professional Services - 16%: Professional Services such as Law Firms and Management Consultancy firms hired a lot. 

BCG, Kearney, would be recruiting within the finance function mainly for Saudi. 

Oil & Gas - 11%: The demand for oil has risen quite a lot recently due to the Russia-Ukraine war.

A lot of Russia-origin companies had to relocate from Europe to Dubai because of various sanctions imposed upon them. 

E-Commerce - 5%: E-Commerce companies are also hiring continuously.

From Q3 

  • Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 31% 
  • Fintech 21% 
  • Manufacturing 18% 
  • Oil & Gas 15% 
  • Telecommunications 10% 

From Q2 

  • Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 35% 
  • Professional Services 22% 
  • Aviation 16% 
  • Oil & Gas 12% 
  • Fin-tech 8% 

From Q1 

  • Consultancy (Top 6 & Boutique Firms) 32% 
  • E-commerce 20% 
  • Professional Services 12% 
  • Construction 12% 
  • Fintech 10%

SMEs are hiring all year round as they account for around 60% of the UAE’s current GDP.  

Fintechs are quite new to the region and the UAE is investing a lot of money into them. They are the next big thing after all.

Dubai’s economy is hugely reliant on tourism. It was one of the most popular tourist destinations in 2022 globally. 

The Dubai economy in particular gained a lot from the Football world cup. A lot of the fans used the city as their base to fly in and out for matches. This put UAE in the spotlight and brought a lot of revenue to the country.

We foresee a huge demand for talent in the Hospitality and Tourism sector. 

Also Read

The UAE is a financial and business hub in the Middle East, employing millions of people. But now with corporate tax coming in, it is expected to create even more demand for CAs in the job market.

What should Freshers, Mid-level and Senior Finance Professionals keep in mind when looking for opportunities in the UAE? 

It is easier to get a job in the UAE as a fresher and even as a mid-level professional without having work experience in the UAE.

For business-critical positions, a senior professional needs to understand the nuances of this part of the world. That is why companies tend to hire candidates with 5-10 years of experience for senior-level positions.  

The area where these criteria wouldn’t matter too much is a newer industry, i.e. fintech. 

Despite all the restrictions in finding opportunities in the UAE, one should not discount the power of networking. 

Networking plays a crucial role in the job-hunting process in the UAE. If you know someone who can help you in your professional journey then, of course, you can get into a big company easily. 

What kind of salary compensation should a finance professional expect in the UAE? 

Generally AED 10,000 - AED 12,000 is the starting point in terms of the salary of a Finance Professional. Here is a rough estimation of the salary range.    

  • Senior Accountant - AED15k - AED18k PM* 
  • Finance Manager - AED23k - AED30k PM* 
  • Financial Controller - AED35k - AED45k PM* 
  • Finance Director - AED50k - AED75k PM* 
  • CFO - AED80k - AED120k PM* 
  • Mid-level Finance Professionals - AED 20,000 and above.

*PLEASE NOTE - the above salary ranges will differ from industry to industry and also the size of business as a Finance Director responsible for a finance team of 5 is more likely to be earning less than a Finance Director responsible for a team of 20.

Will the UAE see major layoffs in 2023? 

The economy and the job market are quite volatile at the moment. Tech companies across the world laid off tens of thousands of employees in January 2023 alone. 

But for what it’s worth, the UAE has been doing reasonably well. 

Sheikh Mohammed, prime minister, and minister of defence of the United Arab Emirates proposed an economic plan worth AED32 trillion ($8.7 trillion). UAE intends to double its international trade and investment by 2033, bolstering its status as a worldwide financial hub. 

UAE is an attractive destination for setting up businesses because of its business and tax-friendly regime.  

Taking these pointers and other aspects into account I see this market growing. 

Also Read

There is a huge need finance and accounting professionals in the UAE, with the advent of fintech, digital currency. Talent Acquisition Director in Dubai, UAE shares how to prepare the ideal CV.


Q. What is the timeframe for landing a job in the UAE? 

It will only take you 4 weeks if you are lucky. The worst-case scenario would be 1 to 3 months. It takes time with the visa process which is quite slow.

Q. Can I get a finance job in the UAE if I apply from outside the country?"

Landing a job in the UAE is hard without applying from within the country.

There are a lot more candidates than jobs in the UAE currently, especially in Dubai. This means that if a company needs to hire a finance professional they don't need to look outside the UAE, as for the most part, the talent is already here.

That is why it is suggested that you come to the country on a three-month visa, and search for jobs.

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