Regional businesses searching for experienced professionals to deliver short-term assignments or unique skillsets can now access the global talent pool through a digital platform launched recently in the UAE. The online talent marketplace has been launched by a UK-based company, The Work Crowd, in response to the growing demand for knowledge-based skills and a surge in freelance working, both in the region and internationally.
The UAE government's introduction of freelance and remote working visas has helped to establish the country as one of the fastest-growing freelance economies in the world. Meanwhile, the relaxation of business ownership regulations has brought a dramatic increase in domestic start-ups that are now looking for professionals with niche skillsets to help them launch and grow.
The latest World Bank rankings ranked the UAE as 16th among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, ahead of powerhouses including Germany, Japan, China, France and Italy. Through continuously updated legislation, the UAE has stayed ahead of the curve to attract talent. During the pandemic, it opened its doors to those looking to retire in the emirate and freelancers and began offering a 10-year golden visa.
Speaking at a recent event titled, 'UAE: The growth of a global business hub', organised by The Work Crowd, Issam Kazim - CEO, Dubai Corporation of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) talked about how the UAE was amongst the first to shut down as the pandemic started, it was also amongst the first to roll out new policies and procedures to support business continuity. He said, "the pandemic gave us a chance to roll out the virtual working programme, which we had been talking about for some years. More than 3000 people have already taken the visa and are in Dubai working for employers and clients virtually."
Mohammed Alblooshi, sector head of fintech and innovation at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said, "I have never seen such a surge in demand for talent as we are experiencing at the moment. We have start-ups that are expecting to grow at an unprecedented rate, and every CEO or business owner I talked to is looking to bring in external expertise to help achieve that growth. This year we project to attract about 200 to 250 start-ups, which is more than we attracted in the last three years put together."
According to Founder and CEO Alice Weightman, it's this demand and the country's business-friendly policies that prompted The Work Crowd to bring the platform to the UAE. She said, "Our aim is to serve both freelancers and companies by connecting self-employed professionals in the region with international opportunities and, at the same time, supporting enterprises established here to find the global talent they need to build their business. The introduction of the UAE remote working visa has opened the doors to freelancers from around the world who want to enjoy everything else that the UAE has to offer; a safe living environment, low taxation, and the opportunity to reside in an exciting multicultural city."
Explaining the timing of the launch, Alice continued, "The pandemic has decoupled the concept of work and the workplace and made people re-think how and where they want to be employed. We know from research that 56 per cent of independent workers feel more financially secure, while 70 per cent generally feel happier in their life. This mainstreaming of flexible working, combined with the lifestyle benefits of freelancing, has led many people to explore self-employment as a career choice."
Speaking about the opportunities for freelancers in the region, Alice said, "With 40 per cent of GDP generated by SMEs in the UAE, there is a huge demand for talented workers who can provide the skills to help these businesses flourish. We anticipate high demand for freelancers in a wide range of disciplines, from digital marketing professionals to artificial intelligence experts.
"The Work Crowd provides reassurance to employers that the freelancers they hire are legitimate and trustworthy. 50 per cent of our new freelancer registrations are coming from the UAE, showing how it's taken off. Our premise is connecting local and accessing global."