Significant numbers of UAE professionals would like to be self-employed

Author: Kirsty Tuxford | Date: 14 Sep 2016

Personal fulfilment and a better work-life balance are key drivers of entrepreneurism for Emiratis

A strong entrepreneurial spirit is emerging in the Emirates, with 73 per cent of UAE professionals saying they would prefer to be self-employed, according to a recent and YouGov survey, Entrepreneurship in the Mena.
The main reasons behind their desire to build their own businesses included: personal fulfilment (50 per cent); freedom to choose work-life balance (46 per cent); and the ability to be their own boss (35 per cent).
Surveys conducted in Egypt and Saudi Arabia also revealed a similar level of professionals who wanted to become entrepreneurs.
“Despite many challenges, entrepreneurship is fast emerging as a transformational megatrend in the UAE, providing both a personal sense of fulfilment and the ability to be your own boss,” said Arleen Gonsalves, associate research manager,
“It also plays a vital role in the economic development as a key contributor to innovation and new job opportunities. There is a long way to go to reach a mature entrepreneurial landscape in the UAE, but the opportunities are sufficiently large and with better support from the government it will further accelerate the trend.”
However, there are still many challenges for entrepreneurs in the UAE. The survey questioned professionals whose start-ups had failed and discovered that finances were a major concern.
Issues included the uncertainty of profit or income; procuring the finances to start; the need to establish the right contacts; hiring the wrong people; and the need to put in a lot of time, energy and effort.
Earlier in 2016, the ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey found that more than a third of young Arabs intend to start their own business in the next five years. The most attractive sectors were real estate, technology and retail. Real estate was the sector of choice in the Gulf region, with 24 per cent of the young people surveyed stating that they would opt to launch a property-related company.
Young Arabs said that governments could do more to encourage lending, provide training and cut red tape. Paula Statham, marketing and communications manager at Creative Zone, - Dubai’s largest business start-up firm - frequently helps clients set-up new business in the UAE.
She said: “In any country, you have to deal with red tape and general bureaucracy to successfully navigate the business registration process. The complexities can be somewhat intensified in the UAE for several obvious reasons, mainly language and law.”
The most popular new UAE-based start-ups currently are consultancy businesses, according to Statham, and she says they are “thriving”. “We are seeing mainly business and management consultancies, but there are also other activities such as events management, accounting and auditing, and IT consultancies being just as popular and successful. The government push for innovation, IOT and green energy also has an influence of the types of consultancies we see.”