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Know your rights
Freelancers in the UAE don’t know their rights. Lara Haidar from The Rights Lawyers explains how the UAE labor law applies to freelancers in the Emirates
November 19, 2008 10:37 by kippreport
The legal position with regards to non-UAE nationals performing work in the UAE is pretty clear; Article 13 of Federal Law No. (8) of 1980 concerning the Labor Law provides that a non-UAE national “may not be recruited for work in the United Arab Emirates without prior approval of the Labor Department and without first obtaining a work permit in accordance with the procedures and regulations laid down by the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.” Therefore, by law, in order to allow a non-national the right to work in the UAE, an employment offer and acceptance are required, followed by an employment contract being signed and the processing of an employment and residence visa. This means that, strictly legally speaking, freelancing is not allowed under UAE laws. In practice though, things seem to differ.
Journalism is an industry that sees a lot of freelancing. What a freelance journalist in the UAE is able to do depends on the period of his stay in the country and the manner in which his work is conducted. A journalist who is a citizen of a country that allows for multiple entries into the UAE without the need for a visa application (such as the UK or the USA) may come into the country regularly for the duration of his visa span, write articles during his stay and not encounter any reasons for concern.
However, sometimes issues can arise, such as when one freelance journalist had a criminal complaint for defamation filed against him in relation to an article published in one of the prominent daily local newspapers. Once at the police station, the third question he was asked (after his name and profession) was whether he was employed with the publication for which he provided the article.