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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

So freelancing can be a lucrative business for those who can guarantee reliable delivery of quality content and negotiate good rates. And if you can do the former, there’s more room for the latter. The next problem is getting paid. Nearly every freelancer interviewed for this article complained about late payments or non-payment on the part of clients, and oddly enough, the worst offenders are usually the best-known names: Multinational ad agencies and large media companies.

Editors say the same. One Dubai magazine editor says she is constrained by two things: A low freelance rate decreed by management and the fact that her accounts department needs to be harassed every time it needs to issue a check. “It’s a shame, because there are a lot of freelancers out there who I would love to use on a more regular basis, but it gets a bit embarrassing when they don’t get paid on time,” she says. The editor asked not to be named, for obvious reasons.

“The biggest problem with the job is bad debtors,” says Richard Whitehead, “chief scribe” of WhiteFox Media, a two-man content provider that launched in June as a limited liability corporation (LLC) based in Dubai Media City. “You should expect to wait between four and 12 months before getting paid.” He adds it would be impossible to run a freelance agency like his in the UAE without somebody spending much of his time chasing bad debt – which, thankfully from his point of view, is his partner’s job.

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  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

    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.



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