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66% of interviewed UAE residents would prefer to be entrepreneurs

Personal fulfillment cited as main reason by UAE respondents to have their own business according to survey on ‘Entrepreneurship in the MENA 2015’

Small and medium enterprises are the thriving force for any economy and are considered one of the main drivers for innovation and employment generation, and in the UAE, the vast majority of residents (66%) would like to be entrepreneurs.

In fact, a new survey conducted by, the number one career site in the Middle East, and YouGov, a pioneer in online market research, entitled ‘Entrepreneurship in the MENA 2015’has revealed that 84% of UAE respondents personally know at least one entrepreneur in their country of residence; 96% of whom are believed to have been successful in their endeavor.

In the UAE, both private and public sector employees think of starting their own business. In fact, 70% of all employees are currently thinking of starting their own business, while 16% have tried in the past but cite they have failed or could not do so for different reasons. Only 9% of the workforce in the UAE have never thought of starting their own business.

Perceptions vis-à-vis ease of starting up a business vary, with18% of UAE respondents indicating they believe that setting up their own business is somewhat easy or even extremely easy, while about half (48%) of general respondents believeto varying extents that entrepreneurship in the UAE is somewhat difficult or very difficult.

The main difficulties cited by those who have started their own business in the UAE include the unavailability of finances (71%); a highly competitive market (38%); strict governmental rules and regulations(30%); and a perceived need for personal connections or ‘wasta’ (29%).

The perception of entrepreneurship in the UAE
More than half of UAE respondents believe that one should gain some experience before starting their own business, while 40% believe that any time is a good time to start a business. In fact, the top three concerns for starting a business in the UAE, according to respondents is procuring finances (65%), uncertainty of profit/income (50%) and a need to establish the ‘right’ network of contacts and connections. (41%).

Almost a quarter of UAE respondents (24%) think that hospitality and leisure is the most appealing industry for entrepreneurs in their country, followed by advertising, marketing and public relations (14%); architecture and engineering (13%); communications and information technology (10%); and finance, insurance and real estate (10%).

Close to two thirds of UAE respondents (64%) perceive entrepreneurs as people who think primarily about profit, and 84% of respondent see entrepreneurs as opportunity-driven. 82% of respondents in UAE strongly agree or somewhat agree that entrepreneurs help in creating new jobs, while 69% agree that entrepreneurs truly benefit the society by creating new products and services.
The best pieces of advice offered to budding entrepreneurs by respondents in the MENA region, including the UAE,is to not be afraid of failure (38%); have a great business plan (13%); and have a great and well-researched business idea and marketing plan (both 11%).

The role of education in defining entrepreneurship
Three quarters of respondents in the UAE (75%)agree that the education they have received has helped them develop an entrepreneurial attitude either to a great extent or some extent. Only 9% of respondents disagree with this sentiment.

73% of respondents in the UAEagree – either strongly or moderately – that the education they have received has helped them acquire the necessary skills and know-how to become an entrepreneur. Another 72% believe that their education has helped them understand the role of entrepreneurs in the society, while 71%agree that the educationthey have received has made them interested in becoming entrepreneurs – either to a great or some extent.

Work style preferences in the UAE
66% of UAE respondents prefer to be their own boss, while 29% would rather seek employment in a company. When it comes to reasons for being self-employed, 52% of UAE respondents do it for personal fulfillment; 46% believe it affords them the freedom to determine their work-life balance; and 41% like the idea of being their own boss.

Of the UAE respondents who prefer to seek employment in a company, more than half (56%) prefer to work for private sector companies, while 44% would rather work for the public sector. The most important factor for choosing to work for pay is regular income (41%). 29% of UAE respondents value the stability of working offered by a company, while 30% think that working for a company gives them the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques.

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, 70% of respondents that have started their own business have done so over the past five years, while almost 1 in five (18%) has started their business in the last 10 years. According to MENA professionals who run their own business, the top three reasons for working for themselves are: more income (34%), greater independence in what they want to achieve (31%), and a better work-life balance (28%).
Currently, a third of MENA respondents (33%) who are self-employed are at the start-up stage of their business; 23% said they have an established business that is underperforming, while22% have a well-established and well-performing business.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship is a huge focus for many countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa region, it bolsters the economy and drives innovation. While people in the UAE are keen to start their own business, financing it is still a key hindrance in achieving their aspiration. This may suggest that the region needs more investors to step in and help entrepreneurs,” said Suhail Masri, Vice President of Sales, “Our mission at is to empower peopleby giving them access to data that is well-researched and up-to-date regarding the employment and economic pulse of their country of residence. We have been helping start-ups to recruit top talentacross the industry spectrum at all career levels. In fact, the platform has been instrumental in facilitating and enabling recruitment activities for entrepreneurial ventures from start-up phase through to maturity since our inception in 2000.”

“More and more people across the Middle East and North Africa are looking at entrepreneurship options. Despite the challenges, our research indicates that entrepreneurship has become more popular than ever before,” said Elissavet Vraka, Research Manager, YouGov.

“Encouraging more entrepreneurial ventures is beneficial in myriad ways to the economies of the region; entrepreneurs contribute to the country’s GDP and help create job opportunities.”

Data for the ‘Entrepreneurship in the MENA 2015’ survey was collected online from September 27 to October 42015, with 8,164 respondents from the UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.