Things to consider before freelancing in the UAE

For millions it’s a long-held dream – throw off the restraints of your 9-5 and be your own boss. There is no upper limit to the jobs you can freelance in – from creative writing and marketing to personal training and business consultancy. In a modern working environment, having control over your hours and workload seems to be more attractive than ever and now with remote working becoming a norm everywhere – not having a traditional 9 to 5 job is more acceptable than ever. Taking the leap can seem daunting but with the right information and support, you too can make this happen.

Who can freelance?

Firstly, there are only two career paths that you’re permitted to freelance in – education and media-related sectors. Towards the 2020 the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) announced that UAE citizens, residents and non-residents can apply for freelance licenses in the UAE. The change aims to generate more job opportunities in the UAE and will expand the business sector in the capital. Previously, the licenses were distributed to UAE nationals only.

The Freelancer License allows businesses to tap into the skill and expertise in the local market and also offer workers with flexibility to work remotely from authorized locations. Applicants are not required to take office space and can apply for residency visas for themselves and their family.

To apply, applicants must ‘verify their relevant skills and if the freelance activity is their definite employment role. Permission from any employer is needed before getting a license.

What do you need?

To be a freelancer, you’ll need a residency visa and a work permit – which you can get from a Free Zone. The permit can cost up to AED 20,000 – and should be renewed yearly.

You’ll need a business plan, passport and visa. If you’re already under a parent or spouse visa, then you are not required to apply for a new visa – you can apply for a permit straight away, although you’ll need a no objection letter (NOC) from your sponsor. If not, you’ll have to undergo the typical process to obtain a visa for AED 3,250.

If you can’t face the rigmarole of going through the process alone, then there are also companies in the UAE to assist with the process. So, if you’re feeling eager and chomping at the bit to apply for your freelance visa, with more options available, there’s certainly no time like the present.

Here are our three tips before you start freelancing

As a freelancer you are every bit as appreciated as an agency. You are what you think you are, so make sure you value yourself which will assist you to ensure that your clients know your value. This belief needs to encompass your payment policy because cash flow is king for your business: always get 50 percent upfront, have 75 percent by midway and so on.

Ask yourself early on – do you want to create a lifestyle or a scalable business? Both of which may seem well-suited but it is absolutely vital to remember that making / saving money over the long term is not the only concern. Organizing in such a way that your business supports your personal wellbeing, happiness and growth without becoming a burden to you is way more crucial than it may seem at the beginning. This is also why it’s imperative to validate your business model with a professional as other perspectives can offer solutions to challenges and co-create with new ideas.

Getting funding to withstand your business is also an enormously important concern. This is a significant question because your cash flow should not hamper your vision. So, think practically and ask yourself if you can achieve a better result with funding or without.

Conclusion

Freelancing can be a profitable and gratifying path, but it’s not easy. Sure, being your own boss is great. You’re not accountable to anyone and you can work how you want, when you want. But that’s also the challenge – You need to be highly attentive, self-motivated and ambitious.

And you will have to wear many hats. Sure, the crux of your business will be your zone of expertise but you’re also likely to be the one person doing all required jobs. Since you can’t do all of it by yourself, you’ll need first-class networking and communication skills, to make sure you’re always liaising with the right people at the right time to get things through.

So, do you also have creativity inside you? Bored of following a 9-to-5 routine and want to be your own boss or a global expert in your field? What’s stopping you then? Confused to take your first step? Don’t worry. We would be delighted to assist with your business setup.

Our business experts will support you in getting the appropriate license and help you to be a global freelancer. If this sounds like you, then what are you waiting for? Discover the joys and freedoms of freelancing, and appreciate the dream of being your own boss. For more information, do contact us at 800 SPCFZ– we would be happy to help you in the process.

Start Small. Dream Big. Grow Faster.

SPC Free Zone offers a wide range of business support services as a one-stop shop solution for your business needs.