May 2020

7in 10 UAE Professionals Prefer to Be Self-Employed

7in 10 UAE Professionals Prefer to Be Self-Employed Survey: 7 in 10 UAE Professionals Prefer to Be Self-Employed

Consumer Goods, Commerce, and IT among the most appealing industries for entrepreneurship in the UAE, finds and YouGov

Dubai, UAE, 18 May 2020: The Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa survey, conducted recently by, the Middle East’s #1 job site, and YouGov, global online market research company, has found that 7 in 10 (70%) of UAE residents prefer to be self-employed/have their own business if given the choice.

The survey found that even among those who are employed, 64% are currently thinking of starting a business, 23% of respondents have tried to start their own business in the past, while only 4% never thought of starting their own business.

When it comes to being self-employed, freedom to choose work-life balance (50%), personal fulfillment (44%) and ability to give back to the community (43%) emerge as the top reasons for preferring to be self-employed. This is followed by being my own boss (35%) and higher monetary gains (34%).

Those who have already started their business seem to have similar reasoning. When asked about the reasons MENA professionals have for starting their own business, the top three answers were: more income (36%), better work-life balance (35%) and independence in what I want to achieve (31%).

Of those who prefer to seek employment in a company in the UAE, the main reasons for their preference are: regular income (51%) and learning new skills (49%).

“Understanding the views of entrepreneurs in the region is essential to maximizing impact and driving growth and innovation in the economy,” said Ola Haddad, Director of Human Resources at “As part of our research strategy, conducts surveys annually and shares interesting insights about the opportunities and challenges of entrepreneurship for the benefit of the sector.”

UAE Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Entrepreneurship continues to be a growing trend in the UAE. Despite the given challenges of setting up a business, the survey indicates that entrepreneurship has become more popular than ever before. Many entrepreneurs are looking to grow their startups and establish business. Over a third (36%) of MENA respondents have personal ambitions to grow their business further in their country of residence, followed by 23% who aim to become an important international player.

Of those who are self-employed in the MENA region, 36% are at the start up stage of the business, while 26% state that their business is established but not performing well. On the other hand, 16% say their business is well established and performing well.

The top concern of UAE respondents while setting up their own business would be procuring finances to start (61%) and the uncertainty of profit/ income (42%).

Among the most appealing industries for entrepreneurship in the UAE are Consumer Goods/ FMCG (9%), Commerce/ Trade/ Retail (7%) and IT/ Internet/ E-commerce (7%).

Perception of Entrepreneurship

The survey shows even greater benefits of entrepreneurship for societies and the economy. The perceived image of entrepreneurs in the region is very positive – UAE respondents perceive entrepreneurs to be opportunity-driven (84%) and that they help in creating new jobs (87%).

The best pieces of advice offered to budding entrepreneurs by respondents in the MENA region is to not be afraid of failure (44%) and doing an extensive amount of market research (12%). Over a quarter (28%) of respondents believe that innovation is the key to success as an entrepreneur, followed by access to funding (23%) and employing the right people (21%).

Zafar Shah, Research Director, Data Services at YouGov said: “Entrepreneurs are the primary source of new job creation. The ideas and innovations born in small companies and startups disrupt industries and create a stronger economy, offering greater opportunities for upward mobility. Therefore, it became imperative for us to explore upcoming entrepreneurs and what challenges they face in a new survey with”

As part of its ongoing commitment to empower entrepreneurs and startups across the region with the tools and information to source, hire, and manage talent, introduced free job postings to push more work opportunities. Entrepreneurs can post their jobs for free and access the largest and most comprehensive database in the Middle East of over 38 million CVs

Data for the Entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa Survey was collected online from January 29, 2020 to February 26, 2020. Results are based on a sample of 1,818 respondents from the following countries: UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan and others.

About is the leading job site in the Gulf and Middle East, connecting job seekers with employers looking to hire. Every day, thousands of new job vacancies are listed on the award-winning platform from the region’s top employers. The portal is used by over 40,000 global employers and has a database of over 38,000,000 professionals.

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