GUEST COMMENT: I quit banking for baking and I have no regrets

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Nabil-Al-Rantisi

Anyone working in the financial sector in Dubai doesn't need telling that it's currently a tough time, particularly for those in a broking function.

The lack of trading volume has hit many firms hard – the number of brokerage firms in Dubai has halved over the past year – and few institutions have the wherewithal to extend their offerings into added value services, such as advisory and wealth management, and are simply waiting for another uptick.

I've been living in Dubai all my life, and working in financial services for the last nine years – three and a half of those as director of brokerage at Rasmala Investments. I discovered a passion for investing after subscribing to an IPO in 2004, which went well, and it sparked something that inspired me to take it up as a career. I worked as a prop trading for a couple of years, before taking up a role at a company called The Analyst where I spent nearly five years.

This isn't the whole story, however; for the last seven years I've been a majority shareholder at Appetite Catering Services, and have recently quit my position in finance to focus full-time on this project.

I should make it clear that I haven't turned my back on finance, nor do I view it as a shrinking industry. The past few years have been hard, bonuses have been dismal and redundancies have become more commonplace. However, the vast majority of my friends working in the industry still have relatively secure positions, and it's difficult – although not impossible – to find a new senior position in the Gulf currently.

It's also worth pointing out that although I run now a deli in the DIFC, I'm not actually making sandwiches. I'm very much hands-off, managing a multi-million dollar firm and trying to maximise my investment – it's not too dissimilar to my previous role.

Never say never, and if the right opportunity presented itself I would definitely consider moving back into financial services. However, in the current climate, I truly believe that I've made the right decision.

Nabil Al Rantisi is a founding partner in 1762, a gourmet deli in the Dubai International Financial Centre, a division of Appetite Catering Services

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