Drawbacks of Being a Freelancer in UAE

A freelancer is not bound by geographical locations. You can live underwater and you’re good to go as long as you have an internet connection and a computer. While finding work online has been fairly easy, I haven’t yet broken into the publishing industry in UAE.

Language Barrier

Part of the reason of why I haven’t yet gotten freelance work from this region is because I’m an expat and do not speak Arabic. Most people want bilingual (English and Arabic) freelancers and the few inquiries I’ve gotten are for Arabic writing. Which kind of sucks but it shows that if you want to freelance in the region, there’s work. You just have to know the language.

I do plan on breaking into print media by the middle of next year though, Insha’Allah. There are plenty of English newspapers and magazines.


The most common method of payment for web content writing/designing is through PayPal. The bad news is that paypal does not have withdrawal options for UAE. It only gives you the option of withdrawing on your credit or debit card. It would have been fine, if the service charges weren’t so much!

I however still use PayPal as my preferred method of payment. Luckily for me, I’ve got family in US and Europe and most of my purchases are online and so far they’ve all been investments into my freelancing business.


Freelancing is lonely business anywhere, but here, it is more so. When I moved here, I had no family or friends. So when I got tired of working or was facing a mental block there was no place I could head out to.

Time Difference

This one’s my biggest peeve. Most of my clients are US based and the time difference is usually anywhere from 9-12 hours. Which means that my day is their night. I’m often working late into the night so that I can email/chat with clients promptly.

Weekend Woes

The weekend here comprises of Friday and Saturday while Sunday is a working day. Most clients work on Fri & Sat, and naturally think I do too. It’s not a big issue but it’s a problem if someone sends me urgent work.

While there are a few drawbacks to it, it’s not all bad. The biggest plus is that we’re working on our own terms and most of my clients don’t even care which part of the world I’m in as long as I deliver work on time.

As I’ve freelanced over the months, I’ve gotten around most of the drawbacks and it’s not so bothersome anymore. Stay tuned for a post about how I worked out a solution to these issues.

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14 Responses to Drawbacks of Being a Freelancer in UAE

  1. silentmantra says:

    hey gurl! congrats! balke doubel congrats! on the new page (luv the look) – and the work :D yaaayyyyy! so that’s why uve been incommunicado eh? bz with writing.
    chal…best wishes and hope to swing by here more often.

    @ mayg – ur one creative woman! :)

  2. Samar says:

    Thanks! Sorry I’ve been out of touch! Balke get active on twitter. I hang around there these days :)

  3. S says:

    freelancing?business?clients??how come i dunno wth ure on bout?i missed out on so much?!keysay?

  4. Sal says:

    So, when are you planing on doing the bilingual thing? My BIL was learning Arabic for his military training and he said it wasn’t all that hard, just a bit different in structure from English. Keep us posted.

  5. Samar says:

    S: Woman, we’ve been out of touch for way too long. Though I do think I told you about my freelancing.

    Sal: What’s interesting is that I know how to read arabic but I don’t understand it. I do plan on learning it. I’m looking around for an afforable class these days.

    Arabic is completely different from English but closer to Urdu – which is my first language. Both are written from right to left and the alphabets are different too.

  6. gh says:

    1-What are the topics you normally cover in freelancing?
    2-What is the nature of your recent assignments?

    I hope you would like to share with the readers.

  7. gh says:

    And just a few more:

    3a-Is freelancing a well paid job?

    3b-Are there any defined pay rules or structures for it?

    3c-Are these Negotiable? Who plays the dominating role in it; employer or employee?

    3d-Are you satisfied with what you are getting?

    3e-Are your employers satisfied with your work and vice versa?

    3f-How often does it happen that you have to seek new employers and new work. What’s the frequency? And the role of nepotism in this domain?

    3g-You want to work for local print media as well. After that what is the next stage of achievement in this profession?

    3h-What was the inspiration behind all this writing stuff?

  8. Samar says:

    Those are a lot of questions :)
    1. I cover a lot of topic. Anything from Social Media, blogging to diet & nutrition. The best part about freelancing is that the only limitations there are, are the ones you put on yourself.

    2. Right now, the nature of work for my clients involves blogging and article writing.

    3. I’ll email you the answers to those. Too big for a comment :)

  9. gh says:

    Well, looking forward to hearing from you then. I am sure there are many people who read your blog and might also be following this thread. Won’t it be better if you publish it as a post and help all those people interested in your field. Well, my questions require precise answers that explain the basic know-how of your profession which I’m sure will take a few minutes for a groomed writer of your caliber.

  10. Legal Alien says:

    Hi Samar,

    There is a medical writer I currently want to employ and she lives in Dubai and I wasn’t aware that you cannot withdraw money via Paypal in UAE. What other options do you have minus Paypal?
    My writer said she tried linking her debit card to her Paypal account but it just wouldn’t work. :(

    really appreciate your help!

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  12. What’s a problem with money withdrawal?
    You can withdraw to your credit card, than to your banking account

  13. Kamil says:

    I’ve started freelancing lately. My first job was to come up with product names for this facebook like website… the boss is very choosy.
    I have been writing for The Firday Times, based in Lahore, and me in Isloo. They pay. :D
    I got my first cheque from them after a month. I was escastic! *typo?*
    You should write to magazines and papers.
    I feel writing technical articles kills the juices.
    .-= Kamil´s last blog ..Back? =-.

  14. Paypal is also not available in Pakistan and we have other alternatives like skrill & payoneer for money withdrawals. Paypal can really help boost ecommerce as well as will as receiving payments from clients around the globe.

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