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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

It’s considerably easier to set up in Media City if you’re already based in Dubai. Heba Hashem, for instance, left an administrative job at Gulf News to set herself up as a Media City freelancer and doesn’t regret it one bit. The process, she said, took little more than a month and was hassle-free. “It definitely helps your status with editors,” she says, adding, “You will be well-placed on a regional level. You don’t want to be based in Qatar or Kuwait. You can write for regional magazines and Saudi papers.”

Respectable? Me?
There’s also the non-Dubai option: Each of the northern emirates have their own free zones, and Abu Dhabi recently announced ambitious plans for Twofour54, a “media content creation zone” that may ultimately compete with Dubai Media City for the status of regional media hub. A query sent to Twofour54 via its press representative asking about the venture’s options for media freelancers went unanswered.

WhiteFox’s Whitehead considered setting up in one of the northern emirates before choosing an LLC in Dubai. “We took advice from a number of people who’d been in the business for a while,” he says. “We first had a look at Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone, which looked attractive for quick turnaround of our application – and also cheaper compared to Dubai Media City. We rejected that on the advice we got saying Dubai Media City is worth its weight in gold because of the protection it gives you against bad debt. Media City takes your side if you can prove that other Media City entities are bad debtors over a period of time.” He says he hasn’t yet tested that promise, however.

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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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