Supplementing your income by freelancing is no more a costly affair. UAE residents can get a permit for an annual fee of Dh7,500 from Dubai's Tecom Group and freelance in the education and media sectors, to begin with. Need a visa to complement it? Shell out another Dh3,250 for a three-year visa under Tecom.
The annual fee includes the freelancer permit and access to the Tecom Business Centre. Candidates can register for the simple three-step permit online on the already up-and-running website www.gofreelance.ae.
The initiative - Gofreelance - launched in partnership with Dubai Creative Cluster Authority, offers freelancers in the education and media sectors the freedom of the 'gig economy' through licences for activities such as executive coaching, film director, scriptwriters and creative designers.
While there are five activities allowed in the education sector, the media category has nearly 50 activities, including acting, animation and journalism.
The move aims to position the emirate as an innovation and talent hub in line with the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The freelance platform was launched at a media conference at Dubai Press Club in the presence of Mona Al Marri, Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office and President of Dubai Press Club; Majed Al Suwaidi, Managing Director of Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Production City; and Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Park.
"Gofreelance presents a unique opportunity for industry professionals to thrive and grow within Dubai Media City's unparalleled business ecosystem that offers state-of-the-art infrastructure and serves as a gateway to neighbouring markets," said Al Suwaidi.
Al Suwaidi told Khaleej Times that the initiative saves the applicant the trouble of setting aside a huge capital to rent an office. "The new product is 70 per cent cheaper than the previous cost of getting a permit. More over, the Tecom visa allows the candidate to sponsor his or her family," he added.
Al Suwaidi explained that if candidates under husbands' or parents' sponsorship want to freelance, they can straightaway apply for a Tecom permit. "They don't have to apply for a new visa."
Residents who hold job visas need to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from their employer or sponsor to apply for the permit.
Amid a rise of the 'gig economy' worldwide, the package empowers freelancers to take ownership of their careers, and make the most of their skills and talents, he said. "With a multitude of emerging professions, such as content creators, we continue to support the development of the media sector through introducing new and enabling platforms."
Al Suwaidi said Gofreelance is proof of Dubai's concerted commitment to attracting and fostering talent in the media and creative sector. The newly launched product is yet another great example of our leadership's far-sighted vision for nurturing the best global talent in Dubai."
"Gofreelance will enable professionals in the education and HR sectors to offer their services at a more affordable cost," said Abdullah.
"Complementing the recent announcement of the UAE Cabinet, we believe the platform will significantly contribute to making our economy more attractive to businesses, and eventually stronger and even more competitive," said Abdullah.
Bikram Vohra, a veteran freelance journalist and a former editor of Khaleej Times, said this forward-thinking decision is welcome and allows for more authenticity and honesty in the dispensation of news and information.
"Freelancers are the most vulnerable part of media because they have no protection. They get used, are cheated of payments, spend half their lives chasing money owed to them and cannot find a way to get justice. By coming under the canopy of the government dictate they will have an official standing and a certain sense of identity," said Vohra.
Professor Dr Paulson Mathew Chunkapura, president and CEO, London American City College, said the new freelance platform for educators and academics will be a game-changer. "This move will definitely help attract the world finest talents and professional in the education field to Dubai."
"Just as much as Ejari is the operative conduit for the healthy relationship between landlord and tenant so too will this new decision be the comfort zone for writers and others of the creative field to protect their intellectual property and not be exploited as content providers by those who take their talent for granted. The UAE is one of the first countries to officially recognise freelancers as a pool of talent and not amateurs running about the bushes. It has through this initiative given this segment respect. By the same token freelancers will be more organised, have a greater sense of responsibility and be more accountable for what they write," added Vohra.
"Businesses are increasingly turning to freelancers due to the need for flexibility and a more affordable workforce, especially during peak seasons, when the benefits of this pioneering offering will be most keenly felt," added Abdullah.
Passport /visa copy
Bank reference letter
Sponsor's NOC (if applying for a permit without visa)
Portfolio or sample of work (media sector only)
Credentials and certificates (education sector only)
How to apply
Submit your online application
When your application is approved, you will receive an email notification. You then have to go to one of Tecom business centres to personally sign your documents and pay the fee
Shortly afterwards you'll receive your freelance permit via email
By Issac John
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