Goodbye Dubai, hello Abu-Dhabi

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A banking job in Dubai, it seems, is no longer as secure as it once was, and with more redundancies predicted in the coming year, expat workers are looking to Abu-Dhabi for new opportunities.

The Dubai financial sector can no longer be viewed as a sanctuary for Western bankers. The likes of Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are already trimming their Dubai teams, and mid-market investment bank Jefferies is closing its office in the Emirate,

Mahdi Mattar, chief economist at Shuaa Capital, says: "Dubai will be worst hit out of all the emirates in terms of job cuts, because it relies heavily on banking and real estate industries."

For expats reliant on employers for visa sponsorship, Dubai is not the greatest place to lose a job. Those who are let go have only one month to find another position before they are obliged to leave the country.

"Unless they are able to find a new sponsor quickly, they will have to leave and with that they are taking their demand and consumption, so the ripple-out is more serious in the economy," Simon Williams, chief Middle East economist at HSBC Holdings told Zawya Dow Jones.

With new banking opportunities increasingly thin on the ground in Dubai, foreign workers are viewing Abu-Dhabi with a more eager eye.

Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi is believed to be relatively sheltered from the credit crunch. It has massive oil reserves, and financial institutions there are still keen to recruit.

Richard Lett, head of banking at recruiters RP International, says: "Sovereign wealth funds in Abu-Dhabi, as well as investment banks, are keen to hear from Western bankers already in the region. We've noticed an upswing in interest from candidates."

Alex Cormack, director, head of Middle East at executive search firm Sheffield Haworth, agrees that bankers are more willing to explore Abu-Dhabi-based opportunities, but adds that Doha, Bahrain and, increasingly, Saudi Arabia are also attractive options for expats.

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