Freelancers will remain fundamental players in the UAE’s workforce.
The UAE’s burgeoning freelancers market is poised to register a strong growth as talented, skilled and up-skilled labour is available in almost every sector.
The freelance economy in the UAE has been on the rise in recent years much in line with the global trend. A latest Algorithm Research report highlighted there are more freelancers in the field of design, media, architecture, mobile phones, websites, and software development.
The online marketplace for freelance services also confirm similar tendencies in the UAE freelancer market. While men represent 62 per cent and women account for 38 per cent of the UAE’s freelance workforce, majority of them are in the age bracket between 21 years to 30 years.
“Freelancers face major challenges such as administrative tasks, client acquisition and late payment issues. Post -covid-19 with companies transitioning from the traditional approach to work and adapting to the new normal, we believe that UAE’s freelancer market can expect some future growth,” said Ketaki Sharma, founder of Algorithm Research.
Dubai is the favoured destination for freelancers vis–vis other emirates, earnings are significantly different, depending on the field of work and the number of years of experience. Dubai remains the focal point, hosting more than 65 per cent of the country’s freelancers. A possible explanation could be a combination of acceptance and business opportunities for freelancers in the emirate.
Abu Dhabi comes second with only around 16 per cent, followed closely by Sharjah with 13 per cent. Ras Al Khaimah with its business and industrial hub, Rakez, falls in the category with two per cent to 10 per cent share whilst the Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain all have below two per cent of the UAE’s freelancers.
“The ongoing pandemic has globally transitioned the traditional approach to work. In the UAE, companies are quickly adapting to the new normal. They are now more willing to interact with independent and remote- based workers, trying to keep agile without jeopardising output,” Sharma said.
Despite the huge drop in activities during Ramadan and summer, freelancers will remain fundamental players in the UAE’s workforce. A Bayt.com poll conducted with participants from the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region in June 2020 showed 79 per cent of respondents agreeing that virtual communication is good enough and 89 per cent convinced that companies will favour employees carrying their work independently and remotely. These two arguments strongly reinforce the case of freelancers in the Mena region.
Chris Howlett, a Dubai-bsed resident, said the UAE market offers many opportunities to freelancers. “I am finding many companies are open to working with a design freelancer now and I hope to make a success of the this opportunity. I first moved to Dubai in 2005 and lived here until 2017. I’ve recently returned and have only been freelancing for a matter of months. The set up with my sponsor Dynamic Freelancer has been smooth and easy,” he said.
The UAE is increasingly being receptive to freelance business models over the past few years. This is further seen in the government changing the rules and making freelance work visas more accessible and affordable by breaking down the costs annually instead of one lump sum amount.
“There is a definite and significant opportunity for freelancers, be it for creative roles such as web or graphic designing, content writing, photography, videography or even functions like marketing, social media management, accounting and HR to name a few,” said Janees Antoo Reghelini, freelance content specialist and strategist.