Schroders, the British investment bank, is committed to keeping its office in the UAE despite deteriorating trading volumes and low prices.
Deutsche Bank, based in Germany, recently moved its head of equity capital markets back to London from Dubai. Nomura, based in Tokyo, closed its Dubai equity research unit and the UK's HSBC has shut its retail equity brokerage unit in the Emirates.
Gavin Ralston, the global head of product at Schroders, believes the company needs to keep its presence in the country to build a sustainable regional business. From its office in Dubai, Schroders runs a fund that invests in equities in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).
It also has a sales team looking after local clients who want to invest globally.
"It plays very well with clients in the Middle East," said Mr Ralston, on the sidelines of a conference in London.
"It is one thing not to set up an office in the first place, but to set one up and then close it leaves a very bad taste in the mouth, which would take us years to recover from."
Investor appetite for exposure to the Middle East fell at the start of the year due to the Arab Spring, according to Schroders, and although investors have returned to the region, Mr Ralston said the Schroders' Mena fund had seen "modest" outflows.
Many brokerages have gone out of business while international banks have scaled back operations.
Low trading volumes led Nomura recently to disband its equity research team in Dubai, although some leading regional companies will continue to be covered by its analysts based in London.
Shuaa Capital, an investment bank based in Dubai, yesterday signalled further job losses as it sought to shift away from retail brokerage and focus on serving institutional investors.
That followed HSBC's move last month to shut its retail equity brokerage.
"We have been through similar downturns in Asia in the 90s where we kept offices all the way through and got good plaudits from clients when the good times came because we'd hung around and not reduced our commitment," said Mr Ralston. The Securities and Commodities Authority, the UAE financial market regulator, recently developed guidelines to help brokerages to merge, rather than shut down.
But despite low confidence in the equity markets in the UAE, Mr Ralston said the number of retail investors looking at investment funds was increasing.
"This segment is growing fast and having had a presence on the ground, we should be in a position to gain market share of a growing market," said Mr Ralston.
There is about US$41 billion (Dh150.6bn) in investment funds in the Middle East, according to Schroders, which compares with an estimated $1.6 trillion managed by sovereign wealth funds.
The investment house also estimates the wealth of ultra-high net worth individuals at about $1tn in the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has the biggest market for investment funds, with $25bn of assets under management, experts say.
* additional reporting by Hadeel Al Sayegh