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Top 10 Best Freelance Platforms In The Middle East

Looking to launch or upgrade your freelance career in the MENA region? Discover the top 10 online marketplaces where freelancers can find gigs.

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Looking for the ideal place to flex your freelance muscles in the Middle East? Our curated list of the top 10 freelance platforms in the region has you covered. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a newbie stepping into the gig economy, this guide will help you navigate the best spots to find work.

Quick Summary Of The Top 10 Best Freelance Platforms In The Middle East:

Platform: Withdrawal Methods: Service Fees: Special Features:
Upwork Bank Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, M-Pesa 10% The world’s largest freelance platform
Fiverr PayPal, Fiverr Card, Bank Transfer, Payoneer 20% Unique mini-store format, Fiverr Pro for established freelancers
Freelancer.com PayPal, Bank Transfer, Skrill, Payoneer, Express Withdrawal 10% Lower service fee with membership, competitive pricing
Ureed Wire Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer 20% MENA-focused, wide range of specialties
Tasmeem ME N/A N/A Creative-focused, job board, external payment handling
Mosawer.net Direct Payment (Client) 20% Photography-focused, simple booking process
Elharefa Cash, Bank Transfer 20% Transparent payment handling, short and long-term projects
Bawabba Direct Payment (Client) 20% Wide range of services, direct client contact
Inploy N/A No Fees Free Contact Exchange, payment facilitation in testing
Bayt N/A N/A Comprehensive job site with freelance opportunities

The Middle East Is Embracing Gig Work

If you’re interested in the best freelance marketplaces in the Middle East because you want to kick off your freelance journey or elevate your existing gig game, then you’re not alone.

The Middle East, a region once synonymous with oil, has been fast morphing into a hotbed of freelance activity. Tectonic shifts in economic landscapes, spurred by youthful vigor and digital dexterity, are making the gig economy not just an alternative, but a preferred mode of work.

In a sweeping survey of over 4,000 professionals from the MENA region, a whopping nearly 9 out of 10 stated that freelancing is their current or future plan, particularly when it comes to online marketing, graphic design, and content writing.

For those who are interested in trading regular work schedules for a more flexible freelance lifestyle, the appeal is clear: the autonomy to choose projects that resonate with your skills and interests, the freedom to set your own hours, and the ability to work from anywhere are powerful draws. And when you couple the perks of freelancing with the appeal of cities like Dubai, Bahrain, and Abu Dhabi, which have thriving startup ecosystems (particularly in sectors like fintech, edtech, and digital media), the proposition becomes all the more enticing.

That’s why there’s no shortage of websites where MENA freelancers can find gigs that align with their expertise and aspirations. On one hand, we have global marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer. On the other hand, regional alternatives such as Ureed, Tasmeem, and Mosawer.net are equally excellent, helping freelancers and employers within the region collaborate with ease. Let’s take a closer look at them.

#1- Upwork

upwork freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Bank Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer, M-Pesa
💵 Service Fees: 10% of the earnings made on the platform

As the most popular freelance platform in the world, Upwork stands as a colossal figure even in the MENA region, offering a platform where freelancers can connect with clients in need of services ranging from graphic design to web development and much more.

Thanks to its size, there’s no shortage of work opportunities on Upwork, posted by anyone from solo entrepreneurs to large brands. That’s why the platform is equally ripe with potential for newbies looking to snag your first gig and seasoned professionals eyeing big-ticket projects.

However, Upwork can be a bit competitive for newcomers due to its vast pool of established freelancers and the fact that it costs money to let clients know that you’re interested in their project because freelancers receive only a limited number of free Connects every month.

#2- Fiverr

fiverr

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: PayPal, Fiverr Card, Bank Transfer, Direct Deposit, Payoneer
💵 Service Fees: 20% of the earnings made on the platform

Fiverr flips the traditional freelance model on its head. Instead of bidding on projects, freelancers set up digital mini-stores, showcasing their services to clients who come shopping. This unique system takes the pressure off bidding and allows freelancers to shine in their own creative space.

As freelancers complete projects and rack up positive reviews, they ascend the ranks, possibly earning the coveted Top Rated Seller badge, which amps up their visibility on the platform. For those with a solid freelance reputation elsewhere, there’s Fiverr Pro. An application to this exclusive club can open doors to high-value projects and premium clients.

However, the path isn’t rosy for everyone. Newbies may find it tough to gain traction amidst a sea of established freelancers. And the steep service fee of 20% can be a deterrent for some, especially considering that Fiverr’s customer support notoriously sides only with clients.

#3- Freelancer.com

freelancer

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: PayPal, Bank Transfer, Skrill, Payoneer, Express Withdrawal
💵 Service Fees: 10% of the earnings made on the platform, which can be reduced with a paid monthly membership

Rounding up the trio of global online marketplaces for freelancers is Freelancer.com. Founded in 2009 with its headquarters nestled in Sydney, Australia, this platform has grown into a popular space for freelancers and clients to connect.

This platform attracts with a fairly low service fee of 10%, which can be lessened with a paid monthly membership, making it even more palatable for those who plan on using the platform extensively. The variety of withdrawal methods adds to the platform’s appeal, catering to freelancers worldwide, including those in the Middle East.

Just know that Freelancer.com does have its share of challenges. One notable concern is the race to the bottom competition often seen from freelancers from Pakistan and India, who sometimes offer extremely low rates for their services. This can make it harder for freelancers in other regions to compete on price.

#4- Ureed

ureed freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Wire Transfer, PayPal, Payoneer
💵 Service Fees: 20% of the earnings made on the platform

Formerly known as Nabbesh, Ureed has rebranded and evolved into a bustling marketplace for freelancers in the MENA region. Unlike Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer.com, this freelance services marketplace has its deep roots in the Middle East, with all of its founders being from the region.

Since its inception in 2017, the platform has witnessed robust growth, doubling in size and extending its reach beyond borders. Now, it boasts over 5,000 employees working remotely across 10 countries, and is home to freelancers spanning 500+ different specialties, 55% of which are women.

To get started on Ureed, you just need to sign up, create an attractive profile to showcase your expertise and experience, test your knowledge to get a blue check, and start pitching for projects. It’s a simple system that should be instantly familiar to those who have used other platforms and should take no time at all to get used to for those with little to no experience.

#5- Tasmeem ME

tasmeem me freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Not Applicable
💵 Service Fees: Not Applicable

Tasmeem ME, translating to “my design” in Arabic, is a haven for creatives in the Middle East, particularly those who spend their days creating logos, illustrations, 3D models, motion graphics, websites, and so on.

Launched in 2009 as a part-time endeavor, it morphed into a full-fledged platform by 2014. Today, Tasmeem ME is known mainly for its job board, where freelancers can browse through a variety of creative projects. Besides connecting freelancers with clients, Tasmeem ME is also a place where designers can showcase their work and a hub for learning and professional development, offering a range of courses that go well beyond design.

It’s worth pointing out that Tasmeem ME, unlike some other freelance platforms, doesn’t handle payments. It purely serves as a bridge between freelancers and clients, leaving the financial transactions and agreements to be managed externally.

#6- Mosawer.net

mosawer freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Handled directly with clients (payment processing options to be released soon)
💵 Service Fees: 20% commission on bookings (to be introduced later this year)

Mosawer.net shines a spotlight on freelance photographers in the Middle East, offering a platform where they can showcase their portfolio and attract customers. As a freelancer, you get to create a profile, display your work, and be discovered by clients in search of photography services. The platform has a simple yet effective process: clients can search, filter, and shortlist photographers, request quotes, and then confirm bookings through a chat.

If you’re keen on a particular project, clients can also post public jobs, allowing you to privately send in your application. Although it’s completely free to sign up and create your portfolio, Mosawer.net plans to introduce a 20% commission fee on bookings later this year.

The current model requires freelancer photographers to handle payment processes directly with your client, but there’s a promise of several payment options being introduced soon. While this is a point of friction, the platform makes up for it by offering exclusive benefits and discounts from their partners, just by sharing your Mosawer.net profile link with them.

#7- Elharefa

elharefa

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Cash, Bank Transfer, Vodafone Cash, Orange Cash, Etisalat Cash, Aman Payments, Masary’s Shops (Egypt)
💵 Service Fees: 20% of the total project value

Dubbed as a hub for the talented and diligent, Elharefa is Egypt’s most popular website for freelancers. Getting started is straightforward: browse through the available jobs, create a free account, fill out your profile, and once verified, you’re set to draft and send proposals to jobs that catch your eye.

The monetary aspect is handled with transparency. Once a client picks you for a job, they pay the project budget to Elharefa, who takes a 20% cut, and you get started on your project. Payments are released post project completion and client approval, and transferred within 5 working days.

Elharefa supports both short-term projects or long-term gigs with milestone-based payments, so whether you’re looking for a quick gig or a longer, more involved project, this platform has got you covered.

#8- Bawabba

bawabba freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Direct payment from clients
💵 Service Fees: 20% commission for the lead if the deal closes successfully

Focusing primarily on the UAE, Bawabba is a platform where freelancers can offer over 160 different types of services, such as photography, music, arts and crafts, writing, graphic design, consulting, legal, architecture, programming, maintenance, and entertainment. One of the notable features of Bawabba is the absence of a sign-up requirement to contact freelancers, making the process less cumbersome for potential clients.

The payment structure on Bawabba is quite direct; freelancers are paid per project, per hour, or per word, depending on the nature of the job, with payments made directly by the clients. Although Bawabba charges a 20% commission for leads if a deal closes successfully, it holds no accountability for disputes between the user and the customer.

This lack of mediation in payment disputes could be a downside as the onus of payment retrieval falls solely on the freelancer, which could be challenging especially in cases of disagreements.

#9- Inploy

inploy mena freelance platform

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Not Applicable
💵 Service Fees: No Fees

Breaking into the MENA freelancing scene in 2019, Inploy has quickly become the go-to platform for Egyptian freelancers and small business owners looking to connect with clients locally and beyond. Pitching itself as an online marketplace for premium talent, Inploy hosts a vast directory of service providers across over 30 categories.

The platform stands out with its Free Contact Exchange feature, breaking down communication barriers between clients and freelancers by enabling them to connect directly at no extra charge. This is a breath of fresh air in an industry where platforms often act as a middleman at every stage.

Right now, Inploy is testing payment facilitation features, whose purpose is to ensure safe and secure transactions between clients and freelancers. It’s likely that these features will be monetized in the future.

#10- Bayt

bayt job site

🏦 Withdrawal Methods: Not Applicable
💵 Service Fees: Not Applicable

Dubbed as the MENA’s version of Indeed, Bayt isn’t your typical freelancing platform like Upwork or Fiverr. Instead, it positions itself as a comprehensive job site, connecting job seekers with employers across the Middle East since its inception in 2000.

Despite not being a traditional freelancing website, it holds a treasure trove of opportunities for freelancers. A simple filter using the “freelance” keyword unlocks a world of freelance gigs among the 55,000+ active job listings on the platform. Navigating through Bayt is a breeze, especially with its well-designed mobile app that makes job hunting on the go quite convenient.

Conclusion

Embarking on a freelance journey in the Middle East is an exhilarating venture waiting to unfold, especially with the surge of online platforms bridging the gap between freelancers and potential clients. We hope that our introduction of the top 10 best freelance platforms in the MENA region has helped you choose the right platform to kickstart or elevate your freelance career. Good luck!

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Guides

How (And Why) To Start A Tech Business In Dubai, UAE

Embark on your entrepreneurial journey in the UAE’s most thriving tech ecosystem with our introductory guide on how to start a tech business in Dubai.

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Just like plants, great business ideas can only thrive in the right environment. And when it comes to tech businesses, no other place in the world offers more fertile ground than the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dubai, a city known for its architectural wonders and bustling markets, recently topped the rankings as the world’s fastest-growing venture capital (VC) ecosystem. According to PitchBook’s analysis of data from the third quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2023, Dubai boasts a VC ecosystem growth score of 72.8.

This remarkable achievement places it ahead of renowned tech hubs in Europe and the United States. These figures are a testament to Dubai’s strategic initiatives and conducive business environment, which have collectively fostered an unprecedented growth trajectory in its tech sector.

If you’re among those who would like to leverage Dubai’s booming tech landscape, there’s never been a better time to start. In the following sections, we’ll provide you with the essential information you need to bring your tech business vision to life in the UAE.

Why Should I Base My Tech Business In Dubai?

Dubai hasn’t become the tech hub of the world for no reason. The government has made starting a business in the city remarkably straightforward and efficient by setting up over 40 Free-Trade Zones (FTZs).

These special business zones offer such highly attractive benefits as 100% foreign ownership, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, 100% exemption from corporate and income taxes, and 100% exemption from customs duty for goods and services moving in and out of the Free-Trade Zones.

Tech giants like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google have already taken advantage of the prime commercial office space available in Dubai Internet City (DIC) FTZ. In addition, businesses in Dubai’s free zones benefit from simplified accounting requirements, adding to the ease of doing business.

Enhanced privacy is another key feature of Dubai’s business landscape. The free zones do not maintain publicly visible company registers, so they provide an additional layer of privacy that many business owners value.

The city’s global appeal and diverse population ensure that businesses can easily find the right mix of skills and expertise to meet their objectives. At the same time, Dubai’s infrastructure, including reliable internet, telecommunications, and state-of-the-art office spaces and facilities, provides a solid foundation for tech companies to operate efficiently and effectively.

Last but not least, Dubai’s banking system is notably business-friendly. The presence of numerous international banks and a smooth process for financial transactions ensures that businesses can manage their financial operations with ease and assurance.

Who Can Start A Tech Business In Dubai?

Think Dubai’s tech scene is only for the big players? Think again. It’s a land of opportunity for anyone with a vision and the drive to see it through, including:

  • Entrepreneurs: If you have a unique idea and the determination to make it a reality, Dubai’s tech ecosystem is the perfect place to start. The city provides not just the technological infrastructure but also a supportive community to guide and nurture new entrepreneurs.
  • Startups: The city’s dynamic market and forward-thinking policies create an ideal environment for startups to grow and thrive. Plus, with numerous networking events and startup accelerators, young companies can find the support and resources they need to reach the next level.
  • Established Companies: The city’s global business environment and access to a wider market can propel established companies into new realms of success without turning their accounting into a complex maze.

Regardless of which of these categories your tech business falls into, Dubai offers a conducive environment for growth and innovation.

What Do I Need To Start A Technology Business In Dubai?

The beauty of starting a technology business in the United Arab Emirates is that it doesn’t take much effort to complete the process. Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

  1. Identify your business activity: First, you need to decide on the nature of your tech business. The UAE free zones offer various types of business licenses based on your business activity, ranging from e-commerce to innovation, and including options like Commercial Trade, Consultancy Services, and more.
  2. Decide your company’s legal structure: Your business can take one of three legal forms in the UAE free zone: Free Zone Limited Liability Company (FZ LLC), Free Zone Company (FZ Co.), or Free Zone Establishment (FZE). This choice will depend on your business’s specific needs and the nature of your activities.
  3. Register your trade name: Choosing a unique trade name is crucial. It should not only be distinctive but also comply with certain terms and conditions, like not containing inappropriate words or the names of rulers or government agencies.
  4. Select your business location: With over 40 free zones in the UAE, pick one that aligns with your business activity. As we’ve already mentioned, most tech businesses are located in Dubai Internet City, so that’s probably the right choice for you as well.
  5. Obtain initial approval & pay fees: Getting initial approval involves fulfilling specific requirements and submitting necessary documents. Commonly required documents include:
    • Completed application form: The official form for registering a new business.
    • Business plan: A detailed document outlining the business’s goals, strategies, and operations.
    • Passport copies of shareholders and appointed manager: Identification documents for the business’s key personnel.
    • Notarized Registry Identification Code Form for the manager: An official, notarized document verifying the manager’s identity.
    • Specimen signatures: Official signature samples of the company’s key personnel.
    • Letter of Intent: A document outlining the intentions or plans of the potential investor or business owner.
    • Financial reports or bank reference letters, if required: Documents showing the financial health or credibility of the business or owner.
    • Registration application: The form used to apply for a freelancer or professional license.
    • CV or profile: A resume or professional profile detailing experience and qualifications.
    • Bank reference letter: A letter from a bank vouching for the individual’s financial reliability.
  6. Pay registration fees: Now you just need to pay the required fees to complete the registration. These fees vary depending on the type of business license and the specific free zone you choose for your company.

For more comprehensive information, check the website of the UAE Ministry of Economy.

Dubai Tech Success Stories To Inspire And Motivate You

The following success stories showcase the immense possibilities when entrepreneurs harness the power and potential of Dubai’s thriving business ecosystem.

Anastasia Denisova, a 23-year-old Russian expat, is a shining example of youthful ambition meeting opportunity. As the CEO of a Dubai-based AI property portal, she has steered her company to generate an impressive $1 million every month since 2022. Denisova’s journey is remarkable for her focus on personal well-being and work-life balance, proving that success doesn’t have to come at the cost of personal happiness.

The story of Rabih Bou Rached, a Lebanese expat, is an inspiring tale of evolution. From waiting tables as a teenager to running a drone company in the UAE, Bou Rached’s journey underscores the transformative power of perseverance and vision. His entrepreneurial path, which began in the food and beverage industry, took a pivotal turn with his introduction to drones, leading to the successful establishment of a commercial drone service provider in Dubai.

There’s also Charbel Nasr, who transitioned from a banker at age 21 to the head of a payment platform at 33. According to the Lebanese expat, his shift from a secure banking job to the world of FinTech in Dubai wouldn’t be possible without the city’s ability to foster innovation and encourage entrepreneurial ventures in diverse fields.

Conclusion

Dubai’s position as a global tech hub is firmly established, and there’s nothing stopping tech businesses from around the world from joining it and reaping the numerous financial, operational, and strategic benefits it offers. We hope that our concise guide has illuminated the path for your own entrepreneurial journey in this thriving city and the United Arab Emirates as a whole.

Bonus: Check out our comprehensive guide on how start an online tech business in Dubai.

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