Demand for freelancers picks up in Mena region

Nearly 9 in 10 individuals plan to do more freelance work this year, new survey shows

Nearly 47% of Mena professionals said their companies outsource work to freelancers to a great extent. Getty
Powered by automated translation

Demand for freelancers is increasing across the Middle East and North Africa region as companies see “multiple benefits” in outsourcing work, according to a new survey by jobs site

About 52 per cent of those surveyed said they hired freelancers due to their ability to deliver within tight deadlines, while 17 per cent cited cost-effectiveness, the 2021 Freelancing in the MENA survey found. They are also good for businesses' contingency planning (16 per cent) and provide extra help for small departments (15 per cent).

For freelancers, the biggest motivations include earning extra income (55 per cent), adding new skills (24 per cent), practicing what they like (11 per cent) and the ability to control their work schedule (7 per cent).

The survey highlights the key driving forces that have led to shifts in the Mena’s freelancer workforce, Ola Haddad, director of human resources at, said.

“Respondents agree that the flexibility and opportunity associated with freelancing is increasingly appealing and that is why we’ve seen such dramatic growth in the number of people choosing to freelance,” she added.

The survey, which polled 4,296 respondents from countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Sudan, was done between December 20 and February 15.

The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many traditional norms around employment and prompted hordes of office employees to work remotely to stem the pandemic's spread. It has also led more people to become digital nomads as they shun traditional physical boundaries of offices and opt for flexible schedules.

Professionals in the Mena region are increasingly opting for freelancing opportunities due to its flexibility but nearly half of those surveyed said they were also looking for new career opportunities.

Almost 22 per cent said freelancing afforded more work-life balance and 5 per cent cited reduced stress levels.

Six in 10 professionals strongly agree that the demand for freelancers has increased in the past year, while 88 per cent of those surveyed plan to do more freelance work in 2021.

The top skills that freelancers must have include time management (43 per cent), communication skills (21 per cent), ability to market themselves (19 per cent) and leadership (10 per cent), the survey showed.

Businesses are also embracing freelancers.

Nearly 47 per cent of respondents said their companies prefer to outsource work to freelancers to a great extent, while 17 per cent said their companies do not outsource work.