Dollar downer on Middle East jobs?

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As the dollar falls, so does the allure of taking a job in the Middle East.

Last week, the US dollar dropped to an all time low against the euro and three-month lows against the yen and sterling. With the US Federal Reserve expected to carry on cutting interest rates and the US economy suffering particularly painfully from the sub-prime crisis, the dollar's demise is expected to continue.

What's good for transatlantic shoppers is less promising for international bankers. Banks in Bahrain, Dubai and Qatar all pay in currencies linked to the dollar (if not in dollars themselves). There's still plenty of hiring in the region - Goldman Sachs, for example, only recently acquired an investment banking licence to operate in Qatar - but will anyone want to go and work there if the money they earn is worth less when they come home?

"The weakening dollar does affect the attractiveness of packages offered throughout the GCC, especially for those individuals whose current compensation is in pounds or euros," says Barbara Van Meir, director of financial services at search firm WoodHamill Ingram in Dubai.

There may be a possibility of sidestepping the decline, however. Van Meir says some banks are bridging the gap by paying in alternative currencies: "We have started to see occasional evidence of candidates negotiating their compensation in a non-dollar currency, especially when the potential employer is a non-US entity."

And even if the dollar does continue to plummet, Alex Cormack at headhunter Sheffield Haworth in London says it's unlikely to have an impact: "'People still want to go and work in the Middle East due to the future growth of the market. Furthermore the region has been less affected by the credit crunch."

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