UAE Professionals Eye Entrepreneurship

By Abdul Basit
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Citing “personal fulfillment”, the “freedom to choose work-life balance” and “the ability to be their own boss” many UAE professionals are eyeing entrepreneurship as the path to success.


Entrepreneurship is a source of economic growth across the world and the UAE will be lucky to see more professionals starting their own businesses soon.

A majority of UAE professionals surveyed recently are willing to become entrepreneurs despite challenges, according to a latest report released on Sunday.

A and YouGov report shows Entrepreneurship offers respondents personal fulfillment, freedom to pursue a better work-life balance and the ability to be their own boss.

A LinkedIn study announced last May, revealed that the number of entrepreneurs in the UAE has nearly doubled in the past year and the country leads the Middle East region with the highest percentage of entrepreneurs.

Job site teamed up with market research firm YouGov to ascertain the current levels of understanding and interest in entrepreneurship in the UAE.

The ‘Entrepreneurship in the MENA’ report found that a vast majority of UAE professionals (73 per cent) would prefer to be self-employed, citing ‘personal fulfillment’ (50 per cent), ‘freedom to choose work-life balance’ (46 per cent), and ‘the ability to be their own boss’ (35 per cent) as the primary reasons for this preference.

On the other hand, over a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) said that they would prefer to seek employment in a company, as opposed to setting up their own business.

Based on the study, over two thirds (68 per cent) of employed UAE professionals are contemplating starting their own business, while 11 per cent have already attempted to do so in the past but either “could not do so” or “failed to do so”.

Another 11 per cent also admitted that they had never thought of starting their own business.

The route to success
When it comes to the best time to start a business, it seems that ‘mid-career’ (45 per cent) and ‘at any time’ (40 per cent) are the most popular times among UAE professionals. Other respondents believe that the right time to set up a business is either ‘after a lengthy career’ (nine per cent) or ‘right after college’ ( five per cent).

Regardless of the best time to start a business, ‘not being afraid of failure’ is by far the best advice to give to aspiring UAE entrepreneurs (44 per cent). Other important tips include: ‘performing an extensive amount of market research’ (15 per cent), ‘having a great business plan’ (10 per cent), ‘having a great marketing plan’ (10 per cent), and ‘having a great business idea (seven per cent).

As for the best industries for entrepreneurship, UAE respondents feel that hospitality and leisure (19 per cent), advertising/marketing/public relations (13 per cent), and architecture and engineering (13 per cent) are the most favorable options for aspiring entrepreneurs. This is followed by communications/information technology (12 per cent), and finance/insurance/real estate (11 per cent).

To ensure business continuity and success, respondents cite three key factors, including ‘being close to clients or customers’ (37 per cent), ’employing the right people’ (23 per cent), and ‘innovation’ (18 per cent).

Challenges to entrepreneurs
Professionals in the UAE who have tried to start a business in the past but couldn’t or failed to do so faced certain challenges which prevented them from success. Finances are a common theme amongst respondents when it comes to listing their business concerns. Over half of UAE respondents (54 per cent) claim that the ‘uncertainty of profit/income’ is a top concern, followed by ‘procuring the finances to start’ (48 per cent), ‘the need to establish the right contacts’ (33 per cent), ‘hiring the wrong people’ (32 per cent), and the ‘need to put in a lot of time, energy and effort’ (30 per cent).

Almost half of the employed respondents (47 per cent) claim that it is difficult to start a business in the UAE. In addition, almost two thirds (63 per cent) agree that easing the law and regulations for setting up a business would immensely improve the UAE’s entrepreneurial landscape. This is followed by ‘facilitating access to skilled labour’ (12 per cent), ‘reducing taxation’ (11 per cent), and ‘regulating competition among businesses’ (11 per cent).

“Entrepreneurship has been a proven driver of both economic activity and innovation in the UAE, which is why the government should take note of the fact that laws and regulations with regards to starting a business are amongst the top concerns for locally-based entrepreneurs,” said Suhail Masri, VP of Employer Solutions,

Arleen Gonsalves, Associate Research Manager, also added: “Despite many challenges, entrepreneurship is fast emerging as a transformational megatrend in the UAE providing both a personal sense of fulfilment and the ability to be your own boss. It also plays a vital role in the economic development as a key contributor to innovation and new job opportunities. There is a long way to go to reach a mature entrepreneurial landscape in the UAE, but the opportunities are sufficiently large and with better support from the government it will further accelerate the trend.”

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