A booming Indian economy, high inflation and rising cost of
living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and a weak US dollar are
combining to create a tight staffing market for professional
services firms in the Emirates.

Speaking with the International Accounting Bulletin for
its inaugural UAE survey (see Startling growth, but can it
), BDO Patel & Al Saleh (BDO) partner Nick Benge
called the staffing situation “awful”.

About 70 percent of BDO staff are from India, 10 percent from
both Pakistan and Bangladesh and the remainder from the UK and
Canada. Benge said the firm generally recruits staff from the
Indian subcontinent as they are of high quality and more affordable
than recruits from markets such as the UK.

“But of course with India booming, what we are finding now is that
our people can get just as much pay in India as they can here,” he

UHY Saxena managing partner Rajiv Saxena concurred with Benge. One
hundred percent of UHY Saxena employees are expatriates and of
those 60-65 percent are from India.

“With India going through its great economic boom, the number of
people willing to relocate from India to the Middle East to work
has decreased,” Saxena said. “It is no longer that lucrative an
incentive to come here to work because salaries in India have

High inflation

Rising costs within the UAE are also fuelling staffing challenges.
“We have rampant inflation and cost of living has gone up so
obviously to retain your talent, you have got to have substantial
increases in your re-numeration scheme,” Saxena said.

The third driver behind the recruitment challenge is the fact that
the UAE dirham is pegged on the US dollar. “Since I have been here,
at one time there were almost four dirhams to the pound, now it is
[more than seven],” Benge said. “It is not only with the pound, it
is with the rupee and any currency except the dollar.”

Carolyn Canham