One of the most straightforward entry-ways into working freelance is by applying for a freelance work permit and residence visa from a free zone. Currently, in Dubai, the free zones that offer free work permits include Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City, Dubai Production City and Dubai Design District. If you’re looking towards the wider UAE, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 and Fujairah Creative City also operate similarly. Keep in mind your profession is going to have to be in line with the free zone you’re tied to, so if you’re looking to work within print journalism, for instance, Media City would be an obvious choice. The free zones will typically offer a shared office space as well as PO Box, and lets you identify as a sole practitioner divorced from any brand name.
Alternatively, if you’re open to carrying out business under a brand name, you may want to consider setting up a business in a free zone.
You’re going to need to invest some money (and account for maintenance fees) if you’ve made the decision to go freelance full time. Depending on the free zone, you may be looking at anywhere from 10,000 AED to 20,000 AED to set up your permit and visa, including a renewal fee you’ll have to pay on an annual basis.
Documentation required in applications of this nature typically include a business plan, a copy of your NOC (your no-objection certificate, which you’ll receive from your current sponsor), and a copy of your passport.
There are some grey areas when it comes to applying for a Freelance permit. If you’re married for instance, and currently have your spouse sponsoring your visa, or you’re employed and only want to freelance part-time, you don’t necessarily have to go through all this procedure.
Instead, you may choose to avail a part-time work contract (For work that requires less time), which can be obtained through the company you work at. You can also ask for a temporary work permit if you’re going to be employed by a company as well.
Looking to land a job that works for you? LEAP can help! Head to our website now and create your account.