Where are all these investment banking jobs in Qatar? (Hint: in the sovereign wealth fund)

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With Qatar gearing up to spend billions on the 2022 World Cup, a booming economy and most of the Q1 M&A deals in the Middle East taking place there, Doha is supposed to be the new epicentre for investment bankers.

Unfortunately, there's little sign of this anticipated recruitment taking place this year.

Qatar is still home to relatively few investment banks - just 14, according to the latest annual report from the QFC Authority, released this week - so hiring opportunities are never going to be particularly prevalent.

However, aside from relocation opportunities from Dubai within international investment banks, there's little evidence of any expansion.

"The Qatari government wants investment banks to open an office there if they want to do deals and many have, but headcount within these operations remains small and there's no indication that it will increase until the World Cup work starts emerging," says one headhunter. "It's still at the planning stage, and it'll be 2013 before there's likely to be any work for the banks."

Investment banking fees in the Middle East have slumped to $48.8m for the first quarter of 2011, which is less than half of the $116.3m at this point last year, according to Thomson Reuters.

"Deal activity is down, but Qatar is where most of it is taking place," adds Peter Greaves, director of financial markets at headhunters McArthur Murray. "So some people are being relocated, simply because there's little for them to do in the UAE."

Big recruitment plans at the Qatar Investment Authority

Any investment banker with aspirations to work in Qatar could do worse than to look towards the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA).

The QIA has become an increasingly important international investor, is staffed by a cadre of international investment bankers and small pool of local talent. It's aiming bolster its headcount by 100 this year to help restructure its current portfolio and look for proprietary investments, according to various recruitment sources.

"They're looking for analysts, associates and directors and are scouring the London market for these new recruits," suggests one financial services headhunter. "They're a serious recruiter, are willing to pay for the right people, and are hoping to persuade ex-Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley types to make the move."

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