The gig economy meaning refers to a free market system, where independent workers offer services in short-term arrangements known as “gigs.”
Gigs have no probations, are not obligated by any contracts, and have short-term conditions. Clients and service providers link up online via digital platforms.
Specific websites such as Xpertin and Upwork connect clients to workers. Gigs also come in other forms, such as connecting tourists to homeowners via Airbnb or connecting drivers to customers via Careem.
Some of the services offered in the gig economy include;
- Freelancers such as remote or on-location admin support and writing services
- Consultants such as on-call workers
- Independent contractors and professionals such as online marketplace sellers
- Temporary contract workers like highly skilled contractors
- Rental services such as Airbnb landlords
In the UAE, the gig economy has progressed due to the current economic state due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The UAE has a high percentage per capita of freelance workers, partially due to the UAE’s labor laws.
The laws favour independent workers. A great example is how the UAE government offers part-time visas that permit people to work on a project basis.
Types of Gig Workers
There are two types of gig workers, contingent workers and independent workers.
Contingent workers are freelancers, independent contractors, consultants, or other outsourced workers. They are non-permanent workers who get hired on a project-by-project basis. For example, a staffing firm employs and provides contingent workers.
They can work on-site or remotely like regular employees. Additionally, contingent workers are usually highly qualified in their respective areas of expertise.
Independent workers are not considered employees of any company. Instead, they invoice for the services they provide.
As a gig worker, there are diverse options when it comes to the work you can do. You can fall under any of these categories;
- Freelance – Such workers provide services like copywriting, design, art, photography, and marketing.
- Freelance marketplace – These are workers who offer services through an online platform such as Uber.
- Other – all other services and activities such as babysitting, yard work, or handyman services.
Pros of Being a Gig Worker in Dubai
Embracing technology has empowered people to work from remote locations. This has seen the boom of gig workers globally, especially in the UAE. It has also allowed start-up companies with no sound financial footing to work with freelance and part-time workers.
In the Dubai Free Zones, tax returns are not mandatory for freelancers, and so arent audits. Additionally, for the first 50 years of operation, new businesses are exempt from all income taxes.
Gig economy work in Dubai offers a level of freedom that other methods of generating income do not. For example, when freelancing, you have the freedom to determine your hours, where to work from, clients to work with, and even your rates.
As a freelance service provider, you make your own work-related decisions, giving you freedom and flexibility. As a result, you can utilize your strengths in every project or task and steer your career as you see fit.
You can determine your workload, and you can organize it well to have a better work-life balance. You’re able to build your professional career around your personal preferences. Follow your passion, and fit into the lifestyle you prefer.
Many gig economy workers enjoy the independence of varying timelines. Besides not getting confined to office space, gig economy workers have no supervisors. You are alone with your work, which can boost confidence and motivation to do exemplary work.
Capitalizing on Your Strengths and Skills
As a freelance worker, you’re able to identify your main strengths and sharpen your skills as well.
Building on your work ethics helps you point out and brush up on your weaknesses to empower yourself continuously.
The time flexibility that comes with freelance work allows you to work at your own pace. Choosing your working hours increases your productivity. You’re able to plan your schedule based on the tasks at hand and deadlines to complete the project.
If you’re a student, going for higher education while working in a gig economy work in Dubai is easy because of the flexibility on both ends.
As a woman or family person, time flexibility is beneficial in many ways. You’re able to fulfill family commitments, and you’re not physically limited to one place.
With the current pandemic, flexibility is essential, as it removes the challenge of access to transport to or from work.
Working in the gig economy gives you the chance to work on various projects and with different clients. This removes the monotony of daily tasks because each project or gig comes with other interesting elements.
This excitement can nurture and encourage creativity that reflects in your work. Additionally, handling many clients and deadlines at the same time enhances and updates your problem-solving skills.
Choosing to work in the gig economy meaning you get a chance to build your portfolio and your resume. You can also network with industry professionals, which can encourage open up many future opportunities for you.
A major advantage of freelancing is that you can work from anywhere you prefer. It allows you to earn money while traveling, as long as you have a laptop, necessary software, and a stable internet connection.
Turn Passion into Career
You can focus your freelance career around what you’re the best at or what you love doing.
With a strong work ethic, you’re able to grow beyond your expectations in your career path.
Low Entry Barriers
Gig work is a great starting point if getting traditional forms of employment is hard for you.
You can start working in your desired industry to gain the experience you need to further your career.
Regardless of the platform you’re using, you have no obligation to work with all clients who get in touch with you. You’re able to choose which clients to work with, making you more flexible.
Multiple Income Sources
Working with different clients and on various projects sharpens your skills, so you’re able to earn more money.
You get paid based on hours of work, specific milestones, or completion of the assignment. This removes the possibility of having unpaid work.
Learn if you’re eligible to freelance in the UAE here and what you require to get a freelance permit in the UAE.
Cons of Being a Gig Worker in Dubai
Most gig economy jobs do not include any benefits such as severance pay, disability leave, sick days, and workers comp. As a non-full-time employee of an organization, the laws involving the benefits the company owes you are different.
As a gig economy worker, it’s essential to plan and budget for a private insurance program. You also need to have a retirement plan in place and a budget for monthly contributions.
You can talk to a financial advisor to help you determine the best options for you.
Taxes and Personal Expenses
Most gig economy companies don’t deduct any taxes from your paycheck. Therefore, you need to have a plan in place for tax payments based on what you’re earning. Then, you can fill in the proper paperwork and simply mail your taxes.
Work-related personal expenses such as a laptop or cellphone fall entirely on gig economy workers.
However, you can claim some expenses. For instance, you can deduct depreciation of some assets such as furniture or your laptop from your income. Additionally, you can have some routine expenses waived because they relate to your business or profession. This can be stationery, data and telephone bills, or travel, for example.
For tax exemptions, you can liaise with an accountant to help you write off your taxes.
Isolation from the Society
For some people, the remote, isolated life that comes with the gig economy is not ideal. For example, one misses out on social events associated with office work, such as parties or team-building exercises.
Gig economy workers lack the feeling of job security and consistent employment. Uncertainties are typical for gig workers, for example;
- How and where to find the next gig
- Unexpected changes in the current task by the client
- Work termination
- Difficulty in communicating with other workers on the same project
Contract or freelance work can end suddenly due to different factors such as bad online reviews of performance. Work can also depend on the level of satisfaction of a client, who has the sole right to reject part or all your work. The possibility of going without payment adds some pressure on gig workers.
Difficulty in Getting Credit Approval
Getting a loan from a bank requires the borrower to have a good credit score and a stable source of income. Unfortunately, gig work often provides unsteady source of income and are therefore considered risky applicants.
The limited access to credit products is a challenge to most freelancers in need of personal loans.
The freedom that comes with self-reliance has both positives and negatives. Without self-discipline, it’s easy to relax and reduce productivity due to the lack of immediate consequences.
It’s important to note that as an independent contractor, you’re running your own actual business. So based on the income you’re generating, consider keeping track of your expenses and have a plan to estimate taxes and other costs such as insurance.
Gig work is on an independent contract. Therefore, there’s no company training you on how to complete your work. In most cases, all you have to work with is a set of instructions on how to use the necessary technology or equipment.
It’s up to you to work out how to succeed in the gig economy and pave your way to career advancement. But, first, you have to learn how the industry you’re progressing into works.
Takes Longer to Gain Experience
Establishing regular clientele and finding your way around the industry you choose takes time. This translates to a long-time learning experience.
For instance, as a freelance writer, finding consistent clients can take years. When working as a professional writer for a company, on the other hand, you gain experience with each new assignment. This makes it easier to build clientele.
When starting your freelance gigs, keep in mind that success can take a bit longer.
What Is the Impact of COVID-19 on the Gig Economy in Dubai?
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a major recession in the labor market. As a result, many employees from various sectors got laid off, sent on unpaid leave, or are experiencing salary reductions.
Recruiters in Dubai have noted an increase in job vacancies as the employment market starts recovering. Hiring is increasing, focusing on e-commerce and distribution across key sectors that contribute to the economy.
Some sectors experiencing this increase include entertainment, hospitality, logistics, tourism, retail, and property.
Dynamic technology has boosted the ability to work remotely. As a result, many businesses have increased the number of employees working from home during the pandemic.
As the world recovers from the effects of Covid-19, the gig economy work in Dubai is providing temporary solutions to earn an income. Freelancers are currently in demand as the boom in the gig economy continues to grow.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation implemented a part-time working regime. This allows some skilled employees to work part-time for up to two employers.
In the current COVID-19 pandemic, some employers are opting to reduce permanent employees. The idea is to do so without losing the flexibility to access certain services when required.
Gig economy workers give employers the ability to access the labor they need at lower financial risks.
The Gig Economy in the UAE
The UAE is more stringent than other jurisdictions, as it does not accommodate some types of business models. To be eligible to work in the UAE, you need approval from the UAE immigration and labor authorities.
This means you need to get a residence visa and work permit. Additionally, part of the process requires you to enter into a standard short time employment contract recommended by the UAE authorities.
As a result of this requirement, setting up companies that work on demand like Uber is very different from the same model in other jurisdictions.
Here, such gig economy companies keep the usual employer-employee relationship. As a result, workers such as Uber drivers qualify for the same statutory protections as any other employees in the UAE. This includes overtime, paid sick leave, paid annual leave.
Also covered is the right to protection against unfair dismissal and the right to end-of-service gratuity.
The requirements by the UAE authorities make the way the gig economy functions in the UAE unique and more favorable to freelancers. A freelance license costs between Dh20,000 and Dh25,000 in Dubai for example.
Recently, the number of consultancy-type agreements within the UAE has spiked remarkably. The UAE is embracing flexibility, which has seen an increase in flexible work.
The focus on investment in the gig economy has seen an increase. This has motivated more people to offer their services as freelancers due to the flexibility that comes with it.
The UAE has also made the setup process for SMEs easier to assist entrepreneurs in sponsoring the immigration process.
The UAE has about 45 separate Free Zones. The zones provide freelancers in the gig economy and entrepreneurs the ability to legally set up businesses. They can also offer services to other companies and get access to benefits and opportunities.
Top 13 Gig Economy Jobs in Dubai
1. Digital Marketing
Digital marketing refers to using online tools to do any form of marketing. With a background in marketing or copywriting, digital marketing is an excellent option for a gig economy work in Dubai job. You can find clients online through sites such as Upwork and work from home.
It covers tasks such as;
Social Media Marketing
This refers to using social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat to market products and services.
👉 Browse Social Media Marketing Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
Content marketing is any digital marketing attempt that uses content assets such as blog posts, infographics, eBooks, and videos to build brand awareness, generate leads and increase sales.
👉 Browse Content Marketing Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This allows you to try and rank pages or blog posts.
👉 Browse SEO Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
Search Engine Marketing
This is where Google, Bing, and Yahoo permit you to run text ads on their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
👉 Browse SEO Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
This is a type of marketing strategy where every user who clicks on an ad gets paid.
👉 Browse Pay-per-Click Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
Affiliate marketing is getting paid by a person or a business to promote their products and services online.
Also included are email marketing, radio and TV advertising, and SMS marketing. The estimated pay as a marketing and social media specialist is about Dh5,000 – Dh15,000.
👉 Browse Affiliate Marketing Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
2. Graphic Design
As a graphic designer, your task is to create visual content to communicate messages to people.
The content gets used by businesses to engage their customers and potential customers. It covers graphics for social media, logos and book covers, and designing websites as well.
👉 Browse Graphic Design Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
3. Freelance Writing
Freelance writing tops as one of the most flexible gig economy jobs available. You’re able to select which clients to work with while sharpening your writing skills. It includes copywriting, content writing, and a level of journalism.
👉 Browse Freelance Writing Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
4. Ad Management on Social Media
Ad management refers to generating ads, managing the time they run and the places where they run. It also includes keeping track of how ad campaigns are performing.
The ads run on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and Audience Network.
With a keen eye, you can create ads with a little copywriting skill. You’re able to get clients online through sites such as Upwork and Fiverr. Additionally, you can reach out to local businesses and inform them of your skills and capabilities.
👉 Browse Ad Management Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
Becoming a driver is a popular option for freelance jobs within the gig economy. Some types of driving have minimal training and licensing requirements.
For instance, being a delivery driver, a personal driver, or a passenger driver only requires a regular license.
Being a driver comes with flexible options, where you can choose the type of driver you’d like to be and your hours of operation. The pay is mostly stable, and the amount is competitive.
👉 Browse Driver Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
6. Consulting Accountant
There are multiple ways to earn well in the gig economy as an accountant. For example, you can work on consulting jobs, and you’re able to work directly with small businesses to assist with their finances or have several tax clients.
If you have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in accounting, you can take tests to get a CPA license. This will increase your value in the market and equip you with the proper training and skills to handle many clients.
👉 Browse Consulting Accountant Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
7. Handyman Services
The demand for people who are available and willing to work using their hands to fix things keeps growing. Handypersons have a wide variety of work options in the gig economy. Most people hire an extra hand for jobs such as setting up new appliances and equipment or repairing fixtures around the house.
You can work on getting regular gigs and creating meaningful connections that open up opportunities for you.
Become a tasker on TaskRabbit to find jobs that vary from moving and assembling furniture, fixing loose household components, among others.
👉 Browse Handyman Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
8. Tester Jobs
Security testing involves cyber-security experts testing a company’s network for points of weakness. Then, the expert tries to hack in to find out if a real cyber-criminal can do the same. They are then able to create systems enhancing data protection and ways to lock out any hackers.
Some companies opt to hire freelancers as penetration testers. As an independent contractor, you have a unique set of skills that makes you sought after by many companies.
This type of gig pays very well and already has a niche for you as a freelance tester. However, companies are always improving and finding ways to keep sensitive data and information safe regardless of their size.
This creates a high-income job market as long as you have the right training and qualifications. The pay in cybersecurity ranges between Dh15,000 and Dh30,000.
👉 Browse Tester Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
9. Freelance Programmer
Some gig economy companies, especially new or start-ups, require help developing a website without hiring a team of IT professionals.
Organizations offer specific tasks or projects that need the attention of a freelance programmer. This makes it easy for you to learn the expectations and develop strategies to complete the task.
You can even get a degree and certification online.
👉 Browse Programming Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
10. Instagram Marketer
Influencer marketing on Instagram is a great way to make money in the gig economy. You can use strategies as an Instagram influencer to increase your following and keep your audience engaged.
The more followers you have, the more valuable you are to brands as an influencer. You can join an influencer marketing network to connect you with brands looking for influencers.
With dedication, consistency, and entrepreneurial motivation, you can find numerous work opportunities.
👉 Browse Instagram Marketing Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
11. Dog Walking, Pet Sitting, or Babysitting
Babysitting is one of the oldest gigs in the gig economy work in Dubai. You’re able to turn your passion for children and animals into a career.
You can use sites such as Rover to link you with pet owners looking for people willing to walk their dogs or take care of other pets in their absence from home.
There are specific sites for babysitting gigs as well.
👉 Browse Babysitting Jobs in Dubai on GrabJobs
12. AirBnB Host
Getting a gig economy job as an Airbnb host job is as easy as creating a comfortable, reliable stay for your guests. For instance, a one-bedroom apartment in Dubai Financial Centre goes approximately for Dh250 a night.
To give yourself an edge, you can use value addition such as setting up local experiences in breweries and bars or even hikes for your renters.
13. Create and Sell Online Courses
Creating an online course is one way to anchor your experience and expertise to make some extra earnings. Additionally, an online course allows you to earn continuous income for a one-time job.
How to Find Gig Work in Dubai
There are many different platforms that you can use to find freelance work. You can find out more about UAE recruitment agencies and how they work here.
Some platform examples include;
Founded in 2016, GrabJobs is a leading Recruitment Automation Platform in the UAE. The cloud-based platform has job posting on many channels and an online chatbot screening.
Here, you can find retail jobs, admin jobs, sales and marketing jobs, customer service jobs, jobs in logistics, and jobs in the food & beverage industry.
You can filter jobs in popular locations such as Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Ajman, and Sharjah.
Airbnb is an excellent gig economy option. It’s an online marketplace that links people willing to rent out their homes with people looking for accommodations in that area.
Customers can search for rooms, apartments, or homes they prefer to stay in during a vacation or business trip.
If you have a home or property, you hardly use, you can consider renting that property out on Airbnb.
Tips on How to Succeed in the Gig Economy in Dubai
Once you’ve decided to jump into the gig economy work in Dubai, it’s essential to network with freelance experts in your preferred industry who can assist you in moving forward.
Get in touch with people who have the right experience, and understand how to succeed in the field. This is important as it builds you a support system of people who can guide and advise you. It’s also a chance to create opportunities, as they’re able to refer you to other gigs.
Focus on enhancing your skills by taking some online classes, for example. Better skills come with better gigs and better pay!
To maximize your benefits and minimize costs, keep stable routines and set up a separate workspace at home. Some helpful activities include;
- Keep a schedule
- Follow a to-do list
- Start the day with the most challenging job or call a client
- Balance sleep, meditation, nutrition, and exercise
- Include personal care into your working life to get a sense of order and control
As a gig worker, you need to be highly motivated any time you get a gig. Since no one else is in charge, be fast-acting and energized for any opportunity that comes your way.
Having several alternatives is necessary for meeting unexpected needs or upcoming opportunities. You’re able to come up with creative solutions for the projects or tasks at hand. The gig economy can be unpredictable, so it’s important to keep your options open.
Take Sole Responsibility
Sole responsibility means you have to work with no supervision on clearly defined tasks. Keep in mind that without a team, you’re working independently, and hence you’re entirely accountable for all your gigs.
In the gig economy, your motivation comes from working towards your personal goals. Therefore, valuable skills you need to have are; knowing how to predict, prevent or resolve any problems you come across.
Evolve and Adapt Quickly
The gig economy is always dynamic, especially when it comes to technology. To succeed, you need to acknowledge and appreciate the changes in this environment. You also need to know what’s new out there to adapt quickly and embrace the changes.
As a gig worker, there are many tools to assist you in earning more money. Besides knowing what’s available, find out which tools are most helpful to you.
For instance, you can learn how to use scheduling apps to boost your productiveness. As the workload increases, you can learn how to automate some of your processes more efficiently.
Keeping in touch with other gig workers helps you learn how they perform their jobs and any useful tools and tips they are using.
Assertiveness refers to being able to stand up for your own or other people’s rights calmly and positively without being aggressive.
As a gig worker, you are your advocate, so you need to speak up for yourself. This involves reasonably keeping your best interests at heart without compromising the quality of your work.
In time, you’ll note that setting limits and taking yourself seriously allows you to achieve more. Clients who perceive you as an expert are more willing to pay reasonable rates.
When dealing with clients, avoid being a pushover but be careful not to be stubborn.
Know Your Finances
Your motivation to work should come from both the commercial and financial sides of the business. One of the significant challenges as a gig worker is financial stability.
Focus on profit and loss margins based on your income and expenses to ensure you’re making enough to pay your bills.
Be Willing to Learn
With the uncertainty that comes with the gig economy, you need to be open to learning new things that broaden your sources of income. The more skills you have, the more money you’re able to earn.
As you begin, taking different job types is a great way to keep your earnings consistent. Of course, focusing on your best skills and building up your personal brand is essential, but gaining various skillsets ensures you get paid.
The skills and experience you get as you work on new jobs will be helpful when creating your niche. Additionally, you’re able to learn particular skills that make you unique in your field.
In time, you can start focusing on a narrower subset of jobs to advance your career.
Have People Skills
As a gig worker, you come directly into contact with your customers, whether online or in-person.
Work on your soft skills such as active listening and empathy to help you create beneficial relationships with your customers.
Find a Niche
In the gig economy, your primary source of income should come from what you can do better than everyone else. So, once you can identify your primary skill, keep working to enhance it by reading and practicing.
Develop unique skills to ensure you get the gigs that others don’t qualify for. This makes you valuable to your customers.
Leverage your strengths to come up with a unique service that solves a problem. You can experiment and redefine yourself while identifying any service gaps in your industry and coming up with solutions.
You’re able to offer a premium service that engages your strengths.
To get noticed in the gig economy, market your skills and always have upcoming opportunities to choose from.
One way to build your brand is to register with many job placement agencies specializing in your skills. Having such connections can prove to be helpful in the future.
You can also try online work sites that deal with general or industry-specific contract work. The sites connect you with organizations looking for your skills.
Know what you’re good at, understand what that means, and focus on the work that has the most meaning to you.
When you’re on the right track, keep redefining your capabilities based on new skills to keep you standing out from a crowd.
Practice Transparent Communication with Clients
Establishing and nurturing relationships with your clients keeps current clients coming back and earns you referrals.
Effective communication ensures you understand what the clients require and helps you come up with a work plan.
As a freelancer, working on your soft skills will help you create strong working relationships. Set the rates you plan on charging your customers, whether hourly or based on a project. This helps you know the value of your work and time.
Despite the ups and downs, the gig economy is a great way to earn extra cash or design the career you’re dreaming of.
Whether looking to join the gig economy in the UAE or any other global destination, dominating the gig economy involves knowing yourself and knowing how the economy works.
Working on freelance jobs gives you the power to be your boss and allows you to be selective with work and clients, but it also has challenges. Equip yourself with the right skills to boost your chances of success.
It requires much work, dedication, and responsibility to make it a viable earning opportunity. So before you jump in, make sure you understand client expectations as a full-time gig worker.
Wondering where to start? Take a look at GrabJobs here to see available opportunities for you!