With an average monthly compensation of $10,000 (Dh36,700), freelancer registrations on a talent-on-demand platform have seen a massive increase of 122 per cent in 2023 compared to the previous year.

An executive from Outsized said the average day rates for professionals in the UAE are influenced by factors such as years of experience, project duration, and the specific skills required. "According to data from our platform, for talent with 7-10 years of experience, when engaged in a 12-month project, the … average day rate is approximately $400-500 (up to Dh1,800)," Azeem Zainulbhai, co-founder and chief product officer at Outsized, told Khaleej Times.

This is significantly higher than the average day rates for Mena professionals, which stand at $309 (Dh1,100).

Azeem said the Mena region has some of the fastest-growing freelance economies in the world. The UAE's on-demand talent pool averages 11-12 years of expertise. This is higher than the Mena region's average of 10.1 years — which is already the highest average expertise, outperforming the larger Apac and Africa regions.

The executive credited the massive surge in registrations to the UAE's diverse visa options, tech adoption across sectors and freelancer-friendly policies.

Top skills

According to the company's Talent On Demand 2024 report, that's based on data collected from its platform, the Mena region is seeing a "remarkable increase in freelance talent demand, diverging from the global downturn seen in the US and Europe". This spans sectors such as IT, banking, finance, real estate, construction, energy, and hospitality. In the UAE, there is a "burgeoning demand for skilled professionals in technology, project management, business transformation, cybersecurity and other key areas", according to Azeem.

In the UAE market, these are the top skills in demand:

  • Product and proposition

— Cards product launch

— Customer experience

— Card operations

— Product development

  • Change management

— Project management

— Agile transformation

— Business analytics

— Business transformation

  • Sales and Marketing

— Digital marketing

— Business development

— GTM (go to market) strategy

— Loyalty programme management

  • Risk

— Risk management

— Risk modelling

— Government advisory

— Fraud risk management

  • Strategy

— Strategy consulting

Scope, hiring practices

According to Hays GCC Salary & Employment Report 2024, a majority of companies (87 per cent) will hire permanent employees this year. However, 19 per cent said they would hire temporary contract employees, while 16 per cent would get freelancers.

Even employers that don't anticipate organisational headcount increases this year will need to hire. Oliver Kowalski, managing director at Hays Middle East, explained to Khaleej Times: "This means that even organisations not planning to increase their overall staff numbers will still need to hire due to various reasons such as turnover, skill gaps, or project-based work. For job-seekers, it suggests a buoyant hiring environment across different types of employment arrangements, providing opportunities for permanent roles, temporary positions, contract work, and freelance."

The guide revealed that 41 per cent of employers say that overall, there are more candidates applying for jobs than in the past. However, 41 per cent highlighted a shortage of skilled professionals.

According to Azeem, the increasing demand for independent talent in the UAE is driven by a global skills shortage, expected to result in 85.2 million unfilled jobs by 2030 across sectors like finance and business services. "Companies increasingly seek skilled talent to fill these gaps, offering specialised services that provide flexibility and agility."

Outsized predicts that in 2024, companies will further progress towards a more "holistic approach" to agile talent. "Employers will not only leverage independents for specific projects but instead see them as a competitive advantage to be used at scale, proactively."

Visas, residency

With multiple visa options, the demand for freelancers is on the rise in the UAE. Its "open immigration policies" offer freelance visas that allow professionals to sponsor themselves and their families, ensuring stability and happiness, Azeem said.

Azeem said independent skilled professionals looking to reside in the UAE have several residency options that eliminate the need for local sponsorship. These include the Golden Visas and freelance permits issued from freezones that offer residencies. "For those interested in a more temporary stay, the Dubai Digital Nomad and UAE's Remote Worker visas allow independent talent to live in Dubai for about a year."

Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).