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I want to break free!

I want to break free!

Media freelancing is big business in Dubai, but working on your own terms is not easy. Here are its pros and cons.

November 9, 2008 9:27 by



This offers a glimpse at the vagaries of media freelancing in Dubai. In many markets, self-employed individuals play an important role in the media industry, be it as advertising copywriters, cameramen, photographers, or PR consultants. Yet in the UAE, freelancers still struggle for respectability.

Not to mention legality. Strictly speaking, the UAE Labor Law prohibits any sort of work relationship outside the confines of an old-fashioned employer-worker contract. Yet, at the same time, Dubai Media City, a government institution, offers freelancers in the media field a business license and a residence visa allocation. So it goes in the UAE, where the law often says one thing and means something else. “Freelancing is common across the world,” says Mohamed Al Mulla, executive director of Dubai Media City. “It’s nothing that has been reinvented. What Dubai Media City has done is simply legalize the opportunities for media freelancers.”

Shifting scribes, bad debtors. Employers face their own set of issues. In a tight labor market, consistency and quality are high among them. “A client knows if you’ve changed your writer,” says Nandini Vohra, a former account director at Portsmouth Group who launched her own PR agency, The Guild, this year. “And they will ask. They’re used to a certain style and they have a certain expectation.” When her freelance Arabic copywriter went on holiday for three weeks, Vohra hired another. “The client called me up immediately and said, ‘Who Arabized this?’”



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3 Comments

  1. An Independent Photographer on November 9, 2008 9:47 pm

    This article really helped, thank you.
    After talking to several people in Dubai (over the phone) on the topic, I googled the issue, and found your website. Glad I did.
    All my best.
    – HH

     
  2. ZEI on November 10, 2008 10:34 am

    Someone wise once said that peanuts will get you only monkeys, But did I also hear someone say that only monkeys will be attracted to peanuts? You get paid for the real sotry, and the real stories rarely get written out here. Even if they sometimes do, they rarely get published in the local media.
    The big guys of the global media keep reporting about the Middle East as they have always done: with a myopic vision concealed behind dark glasses. So, in sum, you will keep getting what you keep getting if you keep doing what you keep doing. Simple.

     
  3. Tom Adler on November 12, 2008 9:33 am

    Interesting article!

    I’m a freelancer, a hardened one at that. Last year I was referred by a good friend to check out http://www.contentsyndicate.com

    Obviously I was skeptical and wondering when they would ask for my credit card to sign up.

    Guess what? They don’t charge money. Its by invitation or referral basis. Its free.Their website (or online platform as they call it) does all the commissioning, payments, licensing, security etc. I post content regularly; besides get commissioned projects into my inbox.

    Because they operate on a global basis, payments are not limited to that measly ‘1 Dirham a word, circa 1994′

    Its a great service, very interesting business model, payments are a breeze, could be really big. Heard they won a lot of awards recently as well. Not surprised.

    And they’re based in Dubai! Well…thank god someone’s doing something outside real estate in that place.

    TA

     

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