Rise of the gig economy in the UAE

Gig economy is redefining the needs and interests of our regional businesses
Rowen Nadia, Founder and Managing Director of Inara PR is at the forefront of meeting client communications needs in the changing face of these working practices.
By Kay Marham
Wed 15 Nov 2017 04:32 PM

The traditional way in which we go to work at our companies every day is transitioning into something new that combines work-life balance and better client delivery.

Rowen Nadia, Founder and Managing Director of Inara PR is at the forefront of meeting client communications needs in the changing face of these working practices.

She has positioned herself right at the forefront of a changing working landscape in the UAE. Nadia’s start-up public relations and communications business has already attracted an impressive client list that includes government, private sector and corporate firms to avail of her services.

Describing Inara (the Arabic word for ‘light’) as “the Uber of communications,” her business hit the ground running ready, willing and more than able to work closely, on-demand, with any industry sector, anywhere, on any size and scope of PR, media, coaching and communications project, delivering the exact expertise that every client company expects.

As you may have guessed, this is no ordinary PR start-up. Nadia has recognised that the rise of the gig economy is redefining the needs and interests of our regional businesses - as well as the way solutions are provided.

What is the gig economy?

The gig economy is generally defined as short-term assignments and jobs that are being facilitated flexibly by the Internet and the ability of skilled service providers to work remotely.

This working dynamic is changing in the business world not just in the UAE, but across the globe. A study by US-based software firm, Intuit, has forecast that 40 percent of the workforce in America will be part of the ‘gig economy’ by the year 2020.

Nadia’s response to changing work life in the UAE is to build a flexible community of communications talent that provides a full range of services to her clients. In doing so, her very modern approach is to work with a scalable collective of subject matter experts that can be assembled and deployed on a per project basis. Having an on-demand scalable team provides customers with flexibility and cost-savings on traditional PR retainers. Perhaps more significantly, clients also receive the benefits of highly engaged and motivated individuals who are achieving a healthy work-life balance by working to this model.

“I didn’t want to just set up a business, I wanted to re-order and democratise the workplace entirely,” she says. Nadia explains that her business model is based on harnessing the huge pool of talent that prefers to work flexibly, including skilled new mothers and those who simply prefer to use their professional skills and experience in a way that enhances their quality of life.

Liana Abou Zaki, Chief Brand Officer of Utalenta.com agrees that the business environment to which Nadia is responding is undergoing change. “There is a steady shift in perspective in the UAE and the rest of the Middle East towards the gig economy and following flexible working models. A survey conducted by Oracle revealed that 64 per cent of human resources leaders in the UAE view freelancing as a means to lessen the ‘long-term costs associated with recruitment and training,’ while 48 per cent believe that freelancing will enable them to ‘develop a broader and more specialist range of skills.’ This is specifically true for owners of SMEs who aim to gain access to skilled professionals in various fields, despite their limitations in aspects such as budgets.”

Nadia explains: “In this digital age, the workforce is increasingly mobile – people no longer want a job for life, like in the old days. Similarly, employers don’t want employees with those ambitions. The nature of business in this region is moving towards winning and servicing contracts, which means flexible contractors. By providing this flexibility in the PR space, we are very much like the Uber of communications.”

As work can increasingly be undertaken from anywhere, it means that work and location have become decoupled. This is the pivotal shift that enables Dubai-based Inara PR to service projects across the region. The benefits to regional employers are huge. In an environment that likes to secure the best talent from around the world, Nadia’s firm facilitates the best individuals for specific projects from a much larger pool than may be locally available, particularly for specialised requirements.

At times when businesses are under financial pressure and seek to streamline their payroll, staff can feel understandably vulnerable in their traditional working roles. Nadia says: “My aim is to empower people to be in a position where they can earn a living to whatever degree and standard they like, when they like, while also being the right people to deliver strongly on every assignment. By only taking on jobs that they know they will excel in, my team is highly motivated, every time. This method of democratising the workplace is at the core of what Inara stands for.”

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