Dubai has long been seen as the home of big business. The emirate’s imposing skyline, opulent architecture and reputation as a global trade and industrial hub are among just some of the reasons why. Then there is the long list of international corporations that have chosen to set up here, from Facebook and Google, to JP Morgan and Verizon.
However, while Dubai and the UAE may make for a perfect home for the world’s largest and most prestigious companies, that’s not to say it is an environment built solely for international conglomerates. There are plenty of solo entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs thriving in the Emirates right now. In fact, over 20,000 new businesses launched in Dubai alone last year.
The factors that make the UAE an ideal place to do business – low tax, great infrastructure, strategic location, and so on – are just as advantageous to smaller companies as they are to the big ones. Some of the country’s major advantages, such as low startup costs and minimal bureaucracy, are arguably even more beneficial to smaller businesses.
Such is the encouraging environment for smaller companies here in the UAE that it’s even possible to start up alone and thrive. And with the ready availability of the freelance visa and license, it’s now easier to do than ever before.
Why freelance in the UAE?
There are many great reasons to become a freelancer in 2020. With more and more businesses embracing casual staff and remote working, freelancing is more popular than ever before. In the US, one of the biggest freelance marketplaces in the world, freelancers made up around 35% of the workforce in 2017. Over the next decade, freelancers are expected to make up over half of the total American workforce.
Here in the Middle East, interest in freelancing continues to grow. A survey, reported by online freelance marketplace Nabbesh found that 65% of professionals in the MENA region believe that freelancing offers a better work/life balance while 7 out of 10 people in the region are, or are considering, freelancing.
It’s hardly surprising that freelancing is garnering such attention in the UAE. The Emirates is home to one of the most supportive business environments for entrepreneurs. There are countless startup funds and incubators in the region to help businesses grow, and the country’s legislation is designed to make doing business easy.
Then there is the favourable tax regime on offer in this part of the world. Set up as a freelancer in the UAE and you’ll pay zero tax on both corporate and personal incomes. Establish your business in a free zone and on top of this, you’ll also benefit from zero currency restrictions and the ability to repatriate all capital and profits.
There’s also a wide range of business activities to choose from when setting up as a freelancer in the UAE. Freelance licenses are usually issued for any of the Department of Economic Development’s 2,000-plus listed activities – this includes everything from manufacturing to consultation.
How to get a freelance visa in Dubai in 2020
Another reason behind the growing popularity in the region is the ease with which it is possible to apply for a freelance visa in the UAE.
The most suitable visa for a freelancer in the UAE is commonly known as the entrepreneur visa. This is a relatively new introduction to the Emirates, rolling out around five years ago. Whereas previously entrepreneurs new to the country would have to show proof of on-going business or an offer of employment to apply for a UAE visa, thanks to the entrepreneur visa, this is no longer the case.
Now, freelancers are able to apply for the entrepreneur visa while outside of the UAE and, once approved, can come to the country and actively look for work to build up a client base.
How to get a freelance license in the UAE
As well as your visa, you’ll also need a license in order to work as a freelancer in the Emirates. Applying for a UAE freelance license – also known as a UAE freelance permit – is incredibly straightforward.
There are two ways to get yours. If you wish to set up in the UAE mainland, you can apply directly to the Dubai Department of Economic Development, or the municipality of your chosen Emirate. Much of this process can be carried out online.
Another option is to apply directly to one of the UAE’s many free zones. The option that’s right for you will depend on your personal circumstances and the nature of your business. Neither option is particularly complex, however both require some understanding of the licensing requirements of UAE businesses.
A UAE company setup specialist can help you at this stage, advising on the best setup to suit your needs and, if you wish, managing your license and visa applications on your behalf.
Looking for the cheapest freelance visa in Dubai and the UAE?
Applying for freelance visas and permits is not just straightforward, it is also incredibly affordable. So, if you’re looking for the cheapest freelance visa in Dubai and the UAE, you don’t need to look very far.
A UAE freelance permit can cost from around AED6,000 to AED10,000 whereas combined with visa costs you can expect to pay around AED 11,000 to AED 16,000.
This cost is similar whether you choose to set up in the UAE mainland or in a free zone. In both cases, you can also expect to receive your license in somewhere between two and seven days, providing there are no complications with your application.
Ready to break free?
The freedom of freelancing is often cited as the number one reason why so many workers around the world choose it as a career. Not only do you benefit from the freedom to choose your own projects and hours, the freedom from having a boss and the freedom to work anywhere you wish, you also benefit from financial freedom too.
Applying for a freelance visa and license in Dubai and the UAE is one of the most cost-effective ways to do business in this part of the world. And it’s not just the startup costs that are low. As you do not have to lease a physical premises or employee any staff, operating costs can also be kept to a minimum.
If you need yet another reason to freelance in the UAE, it’s also incredibly quick and easy to get started. Work with a company setup expert and all you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to start trading. It really is that simple.
TLZ is a one-stop-shop for business set up and after care solutions in the UAE. For more information, call us on 800 TLZ (800 859) or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.