Areas to work in the Middle East

blue glass dome city building

There are significant employment opportunities across the Middle East. But which country would best suit you? Here’s our quick guide.

Arabia, the areas made up of the Arabian Peninsula, is located in the southwestern region of the Asian continent. The main commercial centers are located in the Gulf and include the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and, to a lesser extent, Oman and Kuwait.


United Arab Emirates

The UAE is made up of seven Emirates including Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Abu Dhabi is the largest and the wealthiest of the Emirates, and is the federal capital of the country. It is home to the majority of the energy and projects work that takes place in the region. It is also the cultural and sporting capital, with the Louve museum on Saadiyat Island and the famous F1 track on Yas Island. Abu Dhabi’s population is approximately 1 million and – with 10% of the world’s known oil reserves – is well placed to grow.

Dubai is relatively poor in natural resources compared with other Emirates. However, it has developed a business culture that is somewhat more entrepreneurial in nature. Its reputation as a commercial and tourist hub is widely know and well deserved. Dubai is the most westernised of all the Middle East hubs. Its three million inhabitants come from all parts of the world and represent all social groups and ages.

Dubai is the most westernised of all the Middle East hubs. Its three million inhabitants come from all parts of the world and represent all social groups and ages.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the largest of the Arab economies with the biggest population (approximately 32 million). Over half of the whole population of the Middle East are Saudi Arabian. This is the key growth market for many Fortune 500 companies and is the primary emerging market for the region. In total, there are six million expats and 30,000 of these are British. These individuals are attracted by excellent living facilities and modern Western/British curriculum schools. Saudi Arabia is known for its impressive US-style shopping malls and entertainment complexes. Financially, life in Saudi can also be very rewarding.


Qatar is the richest country in the world per capita and is going through a phase of tremendous infrastructure development. Bordering the UAE and with a UK expatriate population of 10,000, Qatar enjoys a relatively liberal way of life. Due to the recent increase in oil and gas prices, Qatar is now the fastest growing economy in the world, with many of the world's major project financings being arranged there.  With the 2022 Soccer World Cup to be hosted in the country, Qatar is set to play a much more prominent role in the GCC over the next decade.


Bahrain is the largest of an archipelago of 33 islands. Its economy is largely oil and gas-based but it is also a well-established center of finance, particularly Islamic finance. Up until recently, Bahrain was seen as a relaxed and cosmopolitan center where religious and academic freedoms were permitted, as is the right to drink alcohol. Recent well-publicised political unrest has meant the country has been in the news for the wrong reasons. However, Westerners are warmly welcomed and, although not as well known as the UAE, it has a good sense of community.


There is also a large expatriate population in Oman, which makes up about one quarter of the population. Muscat is the capital, which has excellent architecture and culture. The sea and beach are less than ten minutes from almost any location in the city (Oman is a hugely popular holiday destination in itself), while the locals are tolerant and friendly. The mountainous landscape – combined with deserts and beaches – giving Oman a unique feel.

If you are looking for a career in the Middle East and require more information please contact:

Jason Grundy, Managing Director - Middle East

Request a copy of the Robert Walters Middle East Salary Survey

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