New freelance licence, culture visas: Dubai to create 150,000 jobs for creatives

Dubai’s initiatives to catapult emirate to become a global hub for creative talent.


Waheed Abbas

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AP file
AP file

Published: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 1:13 PM

Last updated: Tue 11 Jan 2022, 12:33 AM

Dubai is betting big on the creative industry to attract innovators, professionals and new talent from around the globe as part of its strategy to accelerate growth and development of the new-age sectors in the emirate.

The emirate has been launching a host of measures to transform the region’s commercial and trading hub into a hub for talented professionals as well. Dubai aims to double the creative sector’s contribution to its GDP and boost the number of jobs from 70,000 to 150,000 within the next five years.

To expedite the creative industry’s development in the emirate, Dubai has taken a number of initiatives in the past year with the latest being the launch of a three-year “Talent Pass” licence for freelance work (self-employment) to attract talented professionals in a wider range of fields such as technology, consultancy, education, media and others.

In addition to a three-year visa, the freelancers will also be eligible to rent office space provided by Dubai Airport Free Zone, which will allow them to access and tap over 1,800 international and local companies.

This latest initiative is a joint venture between Dubai Airports Free Zone, Dubai Culture and General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA).

Dubai Culture will support with the Cultural Visa – the first of its kind in the world – to nurture the art and culture sector in the emirate by attracting talented individuals.

Hala Badri, director-general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, has said that the creative sector is making vital contributions to enhancing the emirate’s GDP.

Al Quoz Creative Zone was launched in April 2021 to serve as a hub for artists and designers to live and work in world-class facilities.

Al Quoz Creative Membership gives professionals a wide range of incentives such as training, fees exemptions, reduced rents and logistic business support to transform their creative ideas into businesses.

In December, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and the Department of Economy and Tourism launched the ‘Creatives’ Journey’ as part of the ‘Invest in Dubai’ platform to facilitate doing business for creative individuals to establish their projects in Dubai within seven minutes on one platform.

The creative activities within the project include a wide range of fields across six main sectors: cultural and natural heritage, books and press, performing arts and celebration, audio-visual and interactive media, visual arts and crafts, and design and creative services, in addition to other fields that branch out from it, such as the publishing industry and books, cinema, film and video, music, various art domains, cultural heritage museums, historical sites, archives, major cultural events, libraries, and other related sub-sectors.

Creative licences include four types – Trader licence, which is available to different nationalities and allows freelancers to work from home; Intelaq licence, available to independent UAE and GCC citizens; the instant licence, available to owners of start-up companies of all nationalities; and SME Startup License, which is available to Emirati start-up owners and GCC citizens, who will be exempt from fees for 5 years.


To retain the talent within the emirate, Dubai has been granting 10-year Golden Visa to several talented individuals and celebrities from various sectors.

All these initiatives will catapult Dubai’s from regional capital for the creative economy and a hub for talent to global status.

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