A Guide on Lawfully Freelancing in Dubai, UAE


Say goodbye to the daily office grind! Freelancing, once small, is now a global giant, thanks to remote work and the gig economy. Millions worldwide are leaving the 9-to-5 for freelancing’s freedom. It’s not just a trend; it’s a significant change! 

This year, freelancing is set to hit a massive $455 billion. Exciting, isn't it?

Technology and the changing work scene create opportunities and link businesses with diverse

Let’s look at this from a statistically point of view

Freelance market is booming: key data points

  • The Size: Market value is expected to reach $455 billion by 2023, up from $247 billion in 2021 (84% growth).
  • The Driving Factor: Increased demand across industries, remote work trend due to COVID-19.
  • The Growth Rate: Expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.2% from 2021 to 2028.

Regional distribution:

  • Asia-Pacific: Highest number of freelancers (506 million in 2020), with India leading globally (15 million).
  • US: Second largest population (10.3 million).
  • EU: Significant growth, the UK leading (2 million).
  • MENA Region: The Middle East has a $4 billion market only for digital freelancers.

Take a closer look at the MENA region:

Embracing freelancing has transformed from a passing trend to a significant wave, reshaping the work landscape in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). 

As reported by Arab News, the recent 2022 Bayt survey sheds light on this transformative shift. Surprisingly, a substantial 70% of employers in the MENA region actively seek freelance talent. What’s even more exciting is that 78% of workers in these areas are eagerly anticipating the embrace of freelance life, enticed by its promise of freedom and flexibility.

The comprehensive survey, involving over 1,764 participants from more than 20 MENA countries, lays bare the profound impact freelancing is having across various industries. Employers are recognizing and actively seeking the valuable skills and expertise that freelancers bring to the professional table.

From the worker’s perspective, nearly 8 out of 10 individuals are ready to bid adieu to the traditional office setup in favor of the autonomy that freelancing affords. This isn’t merely a fleeting desire but rather signifies a seismic shift in how individuals perceive and approach their careers. The days of conventional work setups seem to be waning as the allure of freelancing takes center stage.

Time to narrow down our focus: Freelancing trends in Dubai & across the UAE

Did you know that freelancers in the UAE are earning up to Dh40,000 a month?

Freelance and short-term contract work have become increasingly popular in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), offering a flexible and mutually beneficial arrangement for both employers and individuals. 

The recent trends in a Gulf News report indicated a significant shift towards freelance roles in the UAE, with a 30-40% increase in individuals opting for such positions. 

Some firms report a staggering 50% increase in the demand for freelancers. The growth is not limited to general roles; there has been a remarkable 125% increase in demand for risk professionals and a 200% surge in demand for consulting roles. 

This signifies companies are increasingly relying on freelance expertise to meet their specific needs. HR projects, accounting, data entry, marketing & communications, and real estate are among the sectors where freelancers are finding ample opportunities. 

The earning potential for freelancers varies based on their expertise and the complexity of the projects. Freelancers can earn anywhere from Dh15,000 to Dh20,000 per project, with business consulting roles commanding even higher payouts ranging from Dh30,000 to Dh40,000 for 3-month projects.

It is no wonder that obtaining a Dubai freelance visa unlocks the potential to live and work legally, offering freedom, flexibility, and exciting career opportunities. But navigating the process can seem daunting. 

Here’s a comprehensive guide that will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to make your freelance dreams in Dubai a reality.

So, how do you start Freelancing in Dubai?

Dreaming of swapping the office grind for the freedom of freelancing in Dubai? Hold your horses! While exciting, launching your freelance adventure requires a strategic approach.
First things first:
  • Legally savvy: Get familiar with Dubai’s freelance visa regulations and rules. Staying compliant avoids unnecessary bumps in the road.
  • Showcase your magic: Craft a killer portfolio highlighting your unique skills. Remember, your worth matters! Set rates that reflect your expertise.
  • Network like a pro: Build connections online (LinkedIn!) and offline (events!). Real connections are key, so don’t underestimate the power of networking in person.
  • Structure your hustle: Choose the right business setup in Dubai for your freelance journey. Research your options and find the best fit.
  • Platform power: Platforms like Upwork or Fiverr can help you find projects and connect with clients.
  • Social media magic: Don’t forget the power of platforms like Instagram or LinkedIn! Showcase your awesomeness and build a personal brand that attracts clients.
  • Stay ahead of the curve: Keep learning and adapting to industry trends in your niche. By offering what clients need, you’ll stay ahead of the game.

The legalities: Freelance permit & Freelance visa in Dubai?

Before starting the process, make sure you meet the eligibility criteria for obtaining a freelance permit in Dubai. 

Not sure if you are eligible to get a freelance permit? Speak to an expert here.

Typically, this involves having relevant skills or qualifications in your field. Once you get a freelance permit you can initiate the application process for acquiring a freelance visa in Dubai, but yet again choosing a path is imperative.

Getting a freelance visa in Dubai Free Zones

If you choose a Free Zone business setup, you will get your freelance permit directly from the Free Zone Authority you choose, not the Department of Economic Development (DED). Each free zone has its authority, so the specific body issuing your permit will depend on your chosen zone (e.g., Dubai Media City Authority, Dubai Internet City Authority, etc.). 

Getting a freelance visa in Dubai Mainland

On the Mainland route, the Department of Economic Development (DED) is the sole entity responsible for issuing freelance licenses. 

It serves as your permit to work as a freelance, and you may have to deal with designated governmental agencies – such as the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MoHRE).

Here are the detailed steps that outline the successful application process.

Step 1:

The first crucial step is to use a freelance permit before applying for a freelance visa. This step facilitates your registration as a freelancer in the Emirates. The required documents for the application include your Curriculum Vitae, a recent photograph specified by the authority, a copy of your passport, a reference letter from the bank, a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the UAE sponsor, and industry-specific documents.

Step 2:

Once the freelance permit is approved, the immediate next step is to apply for a freelance visa. The progress of your visa application will be communicated to you via email, and the overall process typically takes around 10 to 15 days.

Step 3:

Following approval, a personal visit to the designated free zone in Dubai is necessary. You will submit and sign the required paperwork and pay the stipulated fees here. Upon completing this process, your freelance permit will be issued online.

Step 4:

After obtaining the verified freelance permit, access AXS, TECOM’s business service platform, to apply for an establishment card. Once approved, apply for the freelance visa under the Dubai Development Authority’s (DDA) jurisdiction. This visa is valid for three years, but additional charges are applicable for both documents.

Step 5:

You are ready to commence work with all three essential documents—a freelance permit, establishment card, and freelance visa. Complete the residency visa formalities in Dubai within 5 to 7 business days, including paperwork submission, medical tests, and biometrics. Your residency visa will be valid for the next three years upon approval.

What’s Better? Freelance Visa in Dubai Free Zone or a Freelance Visa in Dubai Mainland?

Both Free Zones and the Mainland offer options, but they regulate differently.

Free zones cater to specific industries, offering streamlined processes with potential tax benefits. At the same time, the mainland provides more comprehensive flexibility but involves securing a local sponsor and navigating a potentially more complex application process. 

Choose the path that aligns with your profession and goals after researching the costs and regulations for each option. 

Consider seeking professional guidance for a smooth visa journey!

What Is the cost of applying for a Freelance visa in Dubai?

Ready to freelance in Dubai? Understanding the costs involved is critical, but remember, it’s an investment in your future freedom!

Costs to consider:

  • Free Zone or Mainland: Each option has different fees (around AED 7,500-20,000 for free zones).
  • Visa Duration: Longer visas cost more (typically 1, 3, or 5 years).
  • Extras: Medical tests, insurance, and ID fees add up.

Get specific:

  • Check individual free zone websites for their exact fees.
  • Visit the DED website for mainland licensing costs.
  • Consider PRO experts or visa processing companies for personalized estimates.

What are the benefits of having a Freelance visa in Dubai?

We have listed some of the main benefits of having a Freelance visa in Dubai.

  • Flexibility to work for one or more companies in Dubai.
  • No need to work 9 to 5. There is time and place flexibility as a freelancer.
  • Since you can work it as a side hustle, there is no hassle from employers.
  • Having a registered freelance visa and working in one of the free zones would allow you to acquire a corporate bank account quickly. Getting this bank account is usually very complex in Dubai.
  • As a freelancer, there is no need for a separate company name. Since you have complete control of your work, your name is the trade name.
  • There is no proper limitation on monthly income.
  • With a freelance visa, you can access the business centers in the free zone.
  • Unlike proper companies, freelancers are not subject to submitting audits, accounts, or financial reports to any authorities.
  • After completing certain formalities, you can also sponsor your family members under your freelance visa.
  • You can work from home, thus saving the costs on office space.
  • You can travel to any country or even your home country anytime with a freelance visa.
  • You can offer your services at your terms and rates, thus building your business gradually.
  • You are open to a vast market since the need for freelancers in the Emirates is growing daily.

Charting your path: Freelance visa Vs. Golden visa in Dubai

Deciding between a freelance visa and a Golden Visa in Dubai is like choosing between a thrilling mountain bike adventure and a luxurious cruise – both offer incredible experiences. Still, the ideal one depends on your travel style.

Freelance visa: Freedom and flexibility on a budget

  • Jumpstart your solopreneur journey quickly and affordably.
  • Enjoy unmatched flexibility: work from anywhere, set your schedule and be your boss.
  • Perfect for budget-conscious adventurers seeking a taste of Dubai’s vibrant freelance scene.

Golden visa: Long-term investment, expansive horizons

  • Secure your place in Dubai for up to 10 years, bringing your family along.
  • Unlock exciting growth potential: build a team, establish a company, and explore ambitious dreams.
  • Enjoy potential tax benefits and relish the prestige of belonging to Dubai’s exclusive Golden Visa community.

Finding your perfect route:

The best path unfolds by understanding your aspirations:

  • Career Goals: Do you seek a solo freelance adventure or dream of building a larger team?
  • Financial Scope: Can you navigate the higher initial costs of the Golden Visa?
  • Risk Tolerance: Are you comfortable with the increased responsibility of company formation?
  • Eligibility: Do you meet the specific criteria for Golden Visa categories?

Remember, there’s no right or wrong answer – it’s about your unique journey.

Book a free consultation:

Seeking professional guidance can help you navigate the nuances of getting a freelance visa in Dubai and make an informed decision aligned with your dreams. So, book a free consultation and let the experts take care of everything if you are feeling overwhelmed by the process.  

CorpCreators.ae is your friendly guide to navigating company formation in Dubai UAE.  We handle the paperwork, juggle with approval, and cater to various  visa services in Dubai as well as across the UAE – so that you can focus on your business.  

Let’s turn your Dubai business adventure into reality – together! The exciting roads of UAE await! Choose the path with CorpCreators.ae in Dubai and pave your way to success and fulfillment.

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