More UAE employees feel the need to express themselves by being masters of their own fate. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: Nearly two-third of UAE respondents would like to be self-employed or have their own business if given the choice, according to a survey by and YouGov. Even among those who are employed, around 64 per cent are thinking of branching out on their own. About 20 per cent of respondents tried to start their own business in the past, while only 7 per cent never thought of establishing a new company.

Freedom to choose work-life balance (44 per cent), personal fulfilment (41 per cent), ability to give back to the community (40 per cent) and high monetary gains (39 per cent) emerge as the top reasons for preferring to be self-employed. “Entrepreneurs are part of this rapidly changing landscape where many businesses are adopting entirely new ways of work that will not necessarily revert to pre-crisis conditions,” said Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at

Our annual survey aims to identify the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship to help entrepreneurs maximize impact and drive growth and innovation in the economy.

- Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at

When asked about the reasons MENA professionals have for starting their own business, the top answers were ‘greater independence in what I want to achieve’ (32 per cent) and ‘wanted more income’ (32 per cent). On the other hand, nearly a third of of UAE professionals claimed they would prefer to seek employment in a company. The main reasons are having regular income (40 per cent), learning new skills (39 per cent) and stability of employment/ job security (34 per cent).

Popular job options

The most appealing industries for entrepreneurship are commerce/trade/ retail (12 per cent), real estate (12 per cent), IT/internet/ecommerce (9 per cent) and FMCG (7 per cent). Despite the challenges of setting up a business, the research indicates that entrepreneurship has become more popular than ever before with many looking to grow their startups and establish business. Over 6 in 10 respondents are planning to hire for their business in the next year.

Of those who are self-employed, 60 per cent took the first step to establish their business in the last five years. When it comes to the current stage of their business, 35 per cent of the self-employed are at the startup stage, 27 per cent claim that their business is established. On the other hand, 21 per cent say their business is established but currently not performing well.

One-third of respondents (33 per cent) have personal ambitions to grow their business further in their country of residence, followed by 24 per cent who aim to become an important international player and 24 per cent aim to become a major international group.

Chief concerns
The top concern of UAE respondents while setting up their own business would be procuring finances to start (56 per cent), establishing the right contacts (40 per cent) and the uncertainty of profit/income (36 per cent).

The perceived image of entrepreneurs in the region is very positive – UAE respondents perceive entrepreneurs to be opportunity-driven (82 per cent) and they help in creating new jobs (85 per cent).

The best advice offered to budding entrepreneurs by MENA respondents is to not be afraid of failure (44 per cent) and have a great business plan (12 per cent). Over a quarter of respondents believe that innovation is the key to success as an entrepreneur, followed by employing the right people (24 per cent) and access to funding (22 per cent).