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How do people feel about work in the UAE? Over two-thirds want to be self-employed

About 20% of respondents have attempted to launch their own business in the past, according to a recent survey

How do people feel about work in the UAE? Over two-thirds want to be self-employed
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Everything about the way we operate has altered since the pandemic. People in the new normal are more drawn to having a work-life balance, personal fulfillment, and high pay.

According to a MENA survey, more than two-thirds of UAE respondents would want to work for themselves or start their businesses if given a choice.

A recent survey by Bayt.com and the market research firm YouGov revealed that 64% of those currently working are considering starting their own business. About 20% of respondents attempted launching their own business in the past, while 7% never considered doing so.

According to the research, the ability to establish a work-life balance (44%), personal fulfillment (41%), the opportunity to give back to the community (40%), and significant financial advantages (39%) are the top four reasons for choosing self-employment.

People who have previously launched their businesses appear to use similar justifications. When asked why they wanted to start their own business, the top responses were “more independence in what I want to achieve” (32%) and “wanted more income” (32%).

However, 30% of UAE professionals said they prefer to work for a corporation. The three largest factors are acquiring new skills (40%), having a steady income (39%), and having work security (34%).

“Entrepreneurs are part of this rapidly changing landscape where many businesses are adopting entirely new ways of work that won’t necessarily revert to pre-crisis conditions. Our annual survey aims to identify opportunities and challenges to help entrepreneurs maximize impact and drive growth and innovation in the economy,” said Ola Haddad, director of human resources at Bayt.com.


Despite the difficulties in starting a business, the study shows that it is now more common for people to pursue entrepreneurship. More than six out of 10 respondents said they intended to make a hire for their company in the upcoming year.

In the past five years, 60% of self-employed MENA residents began starting their firms. Regarding the stage of their business, 35% of independent contractors say they are just starting, while 27% say their company is well-established and doing well. Alternatively, 21% of respondents claim that although their company is established, it isn’t doing well now.

Getting the necessary funding to launch a business (56%), making the correct connections (40%), and the uncertainty of profit/income (36%) are the top concerns of respondents from the UAE when starting their company.


UAE respondents believe that entrepreneurs are opportunity-driven (82%) and contribute to creating new jobs (85%), giving the profession a favorable reputation in the area.

The biggest tips for aspiring business owners are not being afraid of failure (44%) and having a solid business strategy (12%). Employing the right people (24%) and having access to capital (22%), according to more than a quarter of respondents (30%), is the key to success as an entrepreneur.

“Entrepreneurs are the primary source of new job creation, increasing innovation and eventually creating a stronger economy. The survey explores the relationship between innovation and entrepreneurship using the data to produce new and deeper perspectives,” said Zafar Shah, research director at YouGov.

Most Innovative Companies comes to the Middle East this October! Click here to know more.

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