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How are work ethics of a freelancer any different from a full-timer?

Image credits to "twlevebyone"
Image credits to “twlevebyone”

Freelance work is considered exciting as it is considered dubious. Exciting, perhaps, because it offers the leverage to work for multiple employers on temporary or short-term contracts, hence augmenting the overall experience of the worker. Dubious because it is offers no long-term or recurrent confirmations from the employer for the worker.

Differences between ‘independent’ and ‘full-time’ modes of work may be as contrasting as chalk and cheese but it led me to wonder if there were any variations in work ethics and morality when one day, at a social gathering, on hearing that I was working as a freelancer, an associate commented casually: ‘But freelancing is quite different from working at a permanent position; you can walk away scot-free anytime.’

As I walked away that evening, I realized how strong the bromide was – It is no enigma that amongst employers exist many who refuse to take freelancers seriously. What I realized later was that it is because we freelancers rarely take ourselves seriously.

As a freelancer, I strongly feel that if valuing our work is important, equally imperative is to ensure we qualify for that value, hence there are – or ideally should be – no differences in work ethics. Committing to a task on a stipulated deadline with certain quality standards should be treated as an ABSOLUTE priority, for a freelancer as it is considered for a full-timer.

Understanding the importance of work ethics will lead the freelance community to accept their responsibilities. We must NOT, under any circumstances believe, we can GET AWAY.

In my professional career, the first lesson I learned was to ensure that I don’t consider myself a freelancer. I am a professional with a task at hand which is to be delivered on time with the quality that will illustrate my ability at hand. It is a true representative of my character and professionalism and that is something I cannot get away from.

Contributor: Zainab Mansoor is a freelance journalist and contributor to various local and international publications. She is an equally doting mom and strives to strike a perfect balance every day. 

Why using a freelancer is better than a full time employee

These days, freelancers are not odd jobbers waiting to get into full time work, they prioritise control over their life and the ability to work on different projects.  That’s why they are often reported to have a better work life balance than full time employees.  A better work life balance means happier workers, which tends to lead to better output.

One of the main costs for businesses is recruitment and staffing.  In the last few years many businesses in the Middle East had to lay off employees to counter the effects of the economic downturn.  In some service industries, where headcount is related to amount of clients on the books, the cost of continually recruiting and laying off full time employees can be quite expensive.  Replacing an employee has been estimated as costing 150% of that persons wage.  Another factor impacting cost is the high expatriate population especially in the UAE, as expats tend to return home after a few years.

Thus, using freelancers seems to be a perfect fit for firms in the region.  It allows companies to benefit from dynamic resourcing, quickly tapping into expertise when business is good, and limiting liability and cost when business slows down.  It also solves the problem of a continuous churn of expats who, according to a recent Hay Group study, are 8% less likely to stay in their current jobs compared to the global average (UAE sample).

In addition, many global firms are rapidly entering the Arab market.  The cost of setting up business is still high compared to other cities and quick growth is required. This often results in a high demand for digital talent, marketing and creative skills in addition to bilingual staff, as our Q1 2013 figures suggest.

Business growth is not being matched by a similar growth in skill pool, so smart businesses will look to find alternative ways of sourcing expertise in order to succeed.  Up until now there has been little clarity on using freelancers from a business operations and HR point of view, a legal standpoint or general media support.  There also hasn’t been a formal platform where freelancers can register their skills and employers can post their requirements. is solving the platform problem.  The laws in the UAE (typically stricter than those in Levant ) have been changed since 2010 in favour of promoting more flexible work. It is now up to companies to look to their HR department to deliver more efficient hiring practices and embrace the concept of using freelancers as a competitive edge.

The War for Talent: Why HR professionals will focus on Freelancers


(image credit: Escape from Cubicle Nation)

The future workforce is made up of millennials.  Unlike their predecessors, they are much less likely to stay in work full time and more likely look for multiple sources of growth, stimulation and opportunity.  Trends assessed by the US Government Accountability Office suggest that in developed economies, freelance, temporary and contract employees make up about ⅓ of the workforce.  Mercer completed a study that showed Millennials prioritized having a flexible work schedule and having the opportunity to make a difference when it came to employment. Similarly in a recent survey by Ogilvy and Mather, 76% of respondents reported that they would rather spend more time with their families than make more money.  In the Middle East, Millennials employment aspirations are captured in the Asda’a Burson Marsteller Youth report, which shows that respondents prioritized a good work-life balance ahead of salary concerns.

Is a freelancer right for your business?

Traditionally, business success depended on a top down method of managing staff and work.  Some firms however have changed that and adopted a Results Oriented Work Environment, meaning the location and hours worked are less important than the final output. Work is done anytime and anywhere, based entirely on individual needs and preferences.  This method of working is a perfect fit for Millennials who do not necessarily associate success with longevity at one firm only. The career path for younger generations more closely resembles a patchwork quilt, as people attempt to stitch together multiple jobs into something that is flexible and works for them.


In her book “Escape from Cubicle Nation”  author Pamela Slim argues that the new norm is for people to maintain and develop skill sets in multiple simultaneous careers. In this environment, the ability to learn is something of a survival skill. Education never stops, and the line between working and learning becomes increasingly blurred.  Millennials are more aware than ever how the local, and indeed global economy affects their work options.  The Arab Youth Survey showed that people prioritized the UAE as an ideal place to work.  As potential supply increases, the Middle East employer is therefore faced with a unique advantage, the costs of human capital may decrease, but the ability to utilize dynamic resourcing by tapping into many people simultaneously can be done with only a slight increase in operational cost.


Many Middle East employers are still in a cautious hiring mode.  The highest growth shown on employment indices are in the Hospitality, Healthcare and Engineering industries, buoyed by the backing of the public sector and the stated aims of governments to reach 2020 goals including sporting events, expo’s, and increased tourism.  For the private sector, there has been a year on year drop however for full time jobs in the marketing and creative industries (-7%), the software and telecom sector (-17%), and IT field (-12%).  (Monster Employment Index).

This lack of demand for full time employment has surfaced in increased demand in the freelance field. Q1 data on what employers want shows the top 10 job posts as being in the software, marketing and design and creative sectors.  Creative skills are the most sought after, representing 59% of the total, Software taking up almost one third and Marketing being 10%.


Our recommendations are that HR professionals must consider using freelancers as a way to contribute to the sustained competitiveness of the firm.  For smaller firms that need to grow quickly and efficiently, the majority of  budget is spent on acquiring customers, leaving little for human capital.  Freelancers can solve this problem by offering the right skill to the business at the right time at the right price.


To access the largest pool of freelancers, visit today and browse over 15,000 people with over 20,000 registered skills.

Freelancing, its what we do best

You’ve probably been hearing the word Freelance a lot recently.  We’re happy about that. When it comes to working anything other than 9 – 5, we’ve got you covered at

From our constantly evolving skills platform, to resources helping you monetize your skills, we’ve got everything you need to start taking control of your own career.  Keep up with the latest developments on our social channels (to the right of this post) and register on today to find freelance work that suits you.

Nabbesh_new_logo – Disrupting the future of work

Freelance and be your own boss

We’ve finally seen mainstream media catch on to what we’ve been saying all along, freelancing is a viable working option for those who want to be their own boss.  All the data supports it. Over 65% of MENA professionals believe that freelancing offers a better work life balance, allows you to do what you love and gives you more control over your career.  7 out of 10 people would consider freelancing. has been helping thousands of freelancers and employers connect for over a year now. Whether you’re already in full time employment and want to earn money from your skills after hours, or you’re a mompreneur who needs a work schedule on your terms, find an opportunity for you on

Nabbesh_new_logo – empowering people to do what they love from anywhere

Not all internships are created equal…..


Did you know that for every job posted in the UAE, there are on average 400 candidates? That’s not including the thousands of graduates that leave university every year, looking for work.

We understand that universities aim to equip students with the best possible knowledge for life in the real world, but they cannot predict how the job market will be.

That’s why is disrupting the future of work by creating the region’s first platform for freelance, part-time and contract based employment.

Students can start earning money straight away and gain valuable work experience even whilst waiting for a full time employment offer to be finalized.

If you’d like to know more about how we’re empowering people to do what they love, visit

Students are the Future of Work….

Freelance Summit Agenda


The Shelter, Al Quoz, Dubai

Freelance Summit Agenda

6.30 – 7.00     Welcome and Seating

7.00 – 7.05     Audience Brief and Agenda

7.05 – 7.15     Nabbesh Introduction

7.15 – 7.30     Developing a Knowledge Economy in the UAE: The Importance of Freelancers

(Trevor McFarlane, Gulfstat )

7.30 – 7.45     Freelancer Panel – insights, experience and advice

7.45 – 8.00     Presentation by Sara Khoja, Partner at Clyde & Co; What does the law say     regarding licenses, permits and freelancing?

8.00 – 8.15     Break

8.15 – 8.30     Creative Zone – Business Licensing Options

8.30 – 8.45     Employer Panel – what they look for in freelancers, their experience and advice

8.45 – 9.00     Wrap up

Freelancers –           Nigel Holt, Marianne Bassil, Shelina Jokhiya, Swati Randev Verma

Employers –             Sharif Maghraby (MBC, twofour54)

                                 Nick Gonzalez (

                                 Joe Akkawi (Paz Marketing)

                                 Faisal al Yafai (The National)

Moderators – Alexandra Tohme, David Haddad

About the speakers:

Trevor McFarlane is Research Director for the Middle East and Africa at Gulfstat, an independent research group and data provider. He was previously the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Senior Editor for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  Trevor regularly speaks and moderates at conferences, presents to senior executives and hosts Dubai Eye’s Business Breakfast Radio Show as well as continuing his role as a contributing editor to The Economist.

Sara Khoja is Partner, Employment & Incentives at Clyde & CoSara provides advice on all aspects of employment law, including recruitment, termination, terms and conditions of employment (benefits, bonuses, and remuneration), and the application of quotas and training requirements for the employment of nationals in various AGCC countries.  She has contributed UAE chapters to the International Labour and Employment Compliance Handbook (published by Kluwer Law International and the IBA); Corporate Immigration (published by the Oxford University Press) and Compensating Mobile Executives (published by Taxmann).

Sharif Maghraby has worked as a director and producer with MBC, and was responsible for acquiring and negotiating international content formats such as Who wants to be a Millionaire, Fear Factor, and Biggest Loser amongst others. He has experience working with TV, VOD, IPTV and mobile content.  Sharif worked as the Managing Director of Comedy Central Studios with TwoFour54.  He is also the author of a book, “The seven gates of Phi”  He has managed a team of full-time and part-time staff including producers, directors, content development executives, writers and post-production supervisors and has developed and produced many new programs and concepts for the region.

Nick Gonzalez is the co founder of Nervora represents regional advertising for word-class digital publications in the MENA region reaching millions of readers of well-known global brands such as Conde Nast (e.g. Wired, Vogue, GQ, etc.), CBS Interactive, Hearst Media, Viacom, and Gawker Media.  Previously Nick was the first employee at and joined founder Michael Arrington to cover the burgeoning startup scene in the SF Bay Area. Nick wore several hats to keep TechCrunch running in the early days, including writing, researching, and managing the original TechCrunch website.

Joe Akkawi is the Founder and Owner of PAZ Marketing Management and Bambinoz PR providing clients with Public Relations, Events Management, Social Media and Media Buying consultancy in the Middle East and North Africa. Joe is also the TV Anchor on SkyNews Arabia doing weekly reviews and stories revolving around technology launches and advancements. Previously Joe’s experience was developing online web experiences and communication strategies with some of the Middle East’s top advertising and communications agencies including Leo Burnett, Grey Worldwide, Impact BBDO and Flip Media.

Faisal al Yafai is an award-winning journalist and essayist. He is chief columnist, features writer and editor for The National newspaper.  His journalism and essays have been featured in The Guardian, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The American Prospect and many other global magazines and newspapers. He is the editor of a collection of essays Women, Islam and Western Liberalism, published by Civitas in London. He conducted undercover investigations into radical and suspected terrorist organisations in the post-9/11 era. He has since reported from countries across the Middle East, Eastern Europe and South-East Asia. Faisal was awarded prestigious Churchill Fellowship, taking a journey to explore feminism across the Arab and Islamic worlds, from Morocco in the east to the furthest tip of Indonesia. His book on the future of feminism in the Middle East is forthcoming from I.B. Tauris, London.


The Future of Employment in the UAE

An article in the Atlantic titled, The Terrifying Reality of Employment talked about results of a study that suggested if you have been out of work for longer than 6 months employers won’t hire you.

Currently in the Middle East, unemployment rates are still extremely high.  The amount of jobseekers far outnumbers the amount of jobs being created.  In addition 3 out of every 4 women in the Arab world are out of work.

Whilst the public sectors of each country have traditionally shouldered this burden, most governments are at capacity with the amount of jobs they can provide for citizens.  The private sector must change its employment practices in order to reduce the number of unemployed and it may need to start with fixing the gender gap first.

For the UAE the situation may get worse.  With neighboring countries suffering an economic slowdown after the Arab Spring, the UAE is operating as the main beneficiary through increased tourism (over 10 million visitors in 2012) and consumer spending, and ultimately acting as the business hub for the Middle East.

Typically students in UAE universities have been guided into engineering, medicine, business and finance but these skills are not the most in demand skills in the world of work.  Not having the right qualifications, as well as increased pressure from competition exacerbates the problem.

Once graduated they like millions of others compete for limited job openings, often not hearing back from employers for months if at all, and some not sure if their CV has even been looked at.

It seems to be an employers market right now.  With hundreds of potential candidates to choose from for every 1 job posted, most employers aren’t that concerned with fighting to retain existing staff.  Many of those go further and identify the fact that there aren’t that many jobs out there so they aren’t worried about their staff leaving.

Its not all roses for employers though.  Many still struggle with the deluge of candidates, whilst the volume is high, there is no way of knowing what the quality is.  Firms just don’t have the resources to go through all the candidates properly and many firms aren’t even sure about the exact legalities with it comes to hiring someone – shall I use a part time worker / shall I use a freelancer / is it legal to use a student etc.

What would help then?

Job seekers must stay up to date with the evolving technologies in their skillset and a prove they are putting these skills into practice, perhaps by taking on projects and part time work.  Validation for this concept can be seen in the rise of “ The Appliject”  model. “Resumes are dead. Interviews are largely ineffectual.. Portfolios are useful,” writes Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MITSloanSchool’s Center for Digital Business. “But projects are the real future of hiring”

At Nabbesh we’re trying to solve some of these problems.

Women have traditionally been excluded from the workforce because of cultural and other socio economic reasons.  Nabbesh is a platform that can match women who have surplus skills and hours to connect with those that need them.

We want to make sure more people have the right skills that are in demand by employers.  By showing people what skills are most searched for in real time we can influence how people upskill through university or other learning courses.

By opening up the market for “always on” employment though freelance and part time work, we’re helping people stay relevant and ultimately always employable, so that they never have to be out of work.

We want to give every person the ability to make the best impression and stand out from an increasingly crowded marketplace, that’s why we built Canvas, the best profile builder to demonstrate your skill set.

By focusing on skills, we’re giving people options to pursue and monetize their real passion instead of being stuck in a job they don’t love.

Follow us as we disrupt the future of work.


The terrifying reality of long term unemployment (the

75% of Arab Women out of work (emirates 24.7)

Want to quit your job, don’t expect a counter offer  (

After university, arab women struggle to find work (al

Projects are the new job interviews (

Upskilling in Saudi


ALWANE’s study earlier this yearin conjunction with Harvey Nichols, KPMG and Glowork discovered what Saudi women want from work opportunities in the retail industry and what’s really holding them back.

Results demonstrated that 42% accept the idea of women working in the retail sector, while 58% dismissed the idea completely.

“31% of female respondents highlighted lack of awareness of what the retail sector actually is as a main concern in working in the retail sector. Respondents noted that there are not any success stories in the region, let alone the country, to understand the type of career path they would be undertaking. Respondents added that the perception of the retail industry must change”  says the report.

What would solve the problem?

The majority (35%) said an awareness campaign to portray success stories as well as benefits of working in the retail sector would help.

Global brands and their marketing departments are best placed to do this as their international offices are well used to career development programs, having trained people to go all over the world and sell their goods.  A few of them are already working on training Saudis and developing their skills.

Al Naghi has taken its 12 year old distribution agreement with L’Oreal a step further and signed a joint venture which should create jobs for Saudi women in the cosmetics industry.

More Saudis have just completed a fast track training with Nestle in Riyadh. After completion of the programme, the graduates will be prepared to enter the Saudi workforce equipped with the skills necessary to take up a commercial career.

But more still needs to be done.

What happens after people graduate?

A Booz study earlier in 2012highlighted that many women graduated in humanities and that  they should not be confined to the traditional route of teaching.

“Graduates of history, geography, and Arabic department can work in the media, tourism, the municipalities and other government sectors that have started opening departments for women.”

In the UK and US, several private institutions in various industries have such well developed graduate training programs, that geography graduates can work in banking.

During the ALWANE summit in Jordan this month, the KSA chapter stated that many Saudi women hold bachelor degrees in Information Technology and Saudi Arabia is one of the highest smart application buying markets among Arab countries. Therefore, Saudi women can participate in this market, and create a local hub for IT development.

A new way of thinking

The need for more brands to impart their skills to Saudis is evident.  From IT and tech companies to fashion and cosmetics.  But should it be just a top down knowledge sharing activity? The Startup America Partnership found that “What entrepreneurs want is the company and support of other entrepreneurs who can help and understand their struggles.

This is what Startup America is now trying to become—the catalyst for a movement for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs. This is the path SUAP sees to persuading more Americans to start their own companies”

New Hierarchy

Perhaps the same can be said of upskilling. Maybe peers who have skills in other parts of the region can share knowledge with each other as effectively as a brand’s training program.  At Nabbesh we provide an early version of a skill sharing platform.  Many people have connected rapidly, within hours of posting.  In the future and as we build the technology, we might need to find innovative ways to help connect and sharing happen at bigger scales and at a faster rate, if p2p upskilling is to happen. We’re closely watching the scene and we’re positive about the future.

In the Internet We Trust

By: Kathy Shalhoub


Photo of: Bob Dylan

Too many of us have lost the ability to trust ourselves these days. We ask doctors, friends, and family for their opinions, we look up facts and figures on the Internet and in books, and every time there’s a new suggestion on a blog or in a magazine, we’re happy to give it a shot whether we’re convinced or not.

Instead of using these resources as backup or support, we rely on them to help us figure out what it is that we think and feel and we’re happy to mold our personalities into whatever society, our peers, our life coaches or our bosses require of us. We forget that all these people are also humans with beliefs, values and opinions that steer their judgment. We spend so much time listening to the world around us that we forget to listen to ourselves.

When I became a new parent, I wanted to do everything right, so I went out, bought a ton of books, subscribed to 15 mother and baby websites and read through everything I could get my hands on. Which is great because I educated myself on all the information that is out there. But then every time my kid did something I would run to the books to see what to do. I completely forgot that there’s a person inside me that has her own opinions and perhaps a maternal instinct too.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “Self-trust is the first secret of success” and I agree. Learning to trust our selves is a skill that is valuable in every walk of life, from the personal to the professional to the financial.

Trusting yourself doesn’t only count in parenting, it counts in speaking up at a meeting, it counts in making a decision to be an entrepreneur and following through with that decision, it counts in choosing to let someone go for a job badly done and it counts in pushing for bigger budgets. When it comes down to it, do you trust yourself to make changes? Do you trust yourself to take big decisions? Do you trust yourself to take responsibility for your actions and do you trust yourself enough to follow your heart, your gut feeling or your instincts?

Bob Dylan wrote the song way back in 1985.

Trust yourself
Trust yourself to do the things that only you know best
Trust yourself
Trust yourself to do what’s right and not be second-guessed

Trust yourself
And look not for answers where no answers can be found

Ultimately, there is great value in educating yourself by any means, whether it’s surfing online, asking people for their opinions or listening to the experience of masters. You inevitably end up being more informed, more open-minded and more understanding. But when it comes right down to it ask yourself, what is it that YOU think and can you follow through on it?

Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.