142% Growth in Freelancers’ Registrations Across MENA

March 25, 2024 thehrobserver-hrobserver-talentmanagement-talenthr

The MENA region is one of the fastest-growing freelance economies, with 142% growth in freelancers’ registrations from 2022, according to a report.

The conclusions of the Talent-On-Demand 2024 report, conducted by Outsized, an on-demand talent platform in the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, and Africa are based on proprietary data gathered from the platform itself.

The report explains that there has been a surge of demand for independent skilled talent from enterprises within the MENA region who is moving to a more agile and flexible workforce models.

The MENA region has a focus on diversifying oil dependency into a knowledge and skills economy, which led companies to increase freelance talent hire, diverging from the global downturn seen in the US and Europe. 

The rise in independent hiring is evident across various sectors such as IT, banking, finance, real estate, construction, energy, and hospitality, showcasing a vibrant employment arena for skilled professionals. 

This change highlights the fading myth that the gig economy is reserved for low-skill or low-value talent, signaling a strategic transition towards a more data-informed and technology-focused business environment,” said Azeem Zainulbhai, Co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Outsized. 

This year, businesses are witnessing emerging macro trends such as Environmental Social Governance (ESG) and sustainability, data analytics, and procurement are projected to gain significance.

These emerging trends will drive the need for both local and international skilled independent talent within the MENA region.


The increase in the demand for skilled freelance labour is credited to major projects like NEOM in KSA, and open immigration policies from countries like the UAE. Unlike the global trend where technology and data analysis dominate, the MENA region shows a broader scope, including finance, risk, and areas such as product and proposition, sales, marketing, and change management.

The on-demand talent pool in the MENA region boasts the highest average expertise, at 10.1 years, outperforming the larger APAC and Africa regions, the report shows.

The day rates for MENA professionals stand at US$309, ranking third behind Southeast Asia (US$544) and Africa at (US$316).

As the MENA region undergoes digital transformation, embracing agile work models becomes crucial to seize burgeoning opportunities, the report explains.

However, companies in the region still encounter obstacles stemming from a lack of specialised expertise and the constraints of conventional hiring methods.

The technology sector, in particular, is experiencing acute capacity and shortfalls, hindering progress and prompting investments in retraining and upskilling efforts.

Hence, the report suggests that in the current year, companies are anticipated to progress significantly towards embracing a holistic strategy for hiring agile talent.

This entails not only leveraging independent professionals for specific projects but also acknowledging these talents as a scalable competitive asset that can be actively integrated into their workflows.


The HR Observer

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