FreelancersFreelancing

Impact of the Coronavirus on the UAE Gig Economy

4 Mins read

The Coronavirus has had detrimental effects on the global economy, and freelancers in Dubai have already started to feel the pinch. But how did this disease come about? How has it affected global businesses? 

Do freelancers have anything to worry about? This post explores all the nitty-gritty surrounding this pandemic and how those in the gig economy should prepare themselves for its impacts. 

What is Coronavirus?

The 2019 novel Coronavirus, popularly referred to as COVID-19, is one of the hundreds of viruses known to affect humans and can cause fever, respiratory issues, and in some cases, the patients show some gastrointestinal symptoms. This is the third type of virus in three decades to have been known to get transferred from animals to humans. 

Since it emerged in the central city of Wuhan, China, the new Coronavirus has caused a global health emergency, with close to 100,000 confirmed cases from over 85 countries worldwide. As of early March 2020, the virus had already caused more than 3,200 deaths all over the world, with confirmed cases being announced from the United Arab Emirates and her neighbors. 

Previous Impacts of the Coronavirus on the Global Economy

Nearly two decades have since passed since SARS, a Coronavirus that also emerged in China, sent a chill through the world economy. SARS, which broke out in 2003, had over 8,000 confirmed cases and about 800 deaths reported worldwide. These numbers are evidence enough to show how the COVID-19 has far much worse impacts compared to the 2003 SARS. 

The dawn of globalization has made companies continue building supply chains that traverse national and regional borders, meaning that the economies are now much more interconnected. Unlike in 2003, containing the spread of this Coronavirus has been faced with a lot of financial constraints.

For instance, following the economic depression of 2008, the major banks have used up much of their ammunition towards the aiding their economies from taking in much impact. The global debt levels have also hit a record high. If nationalism is also to be taken into consideration, then it is, without a doubt, that the coordination of a worldwide response towards the infection would be harder. 

According to a report by the World Bank, pandemics can cause massive economic losses, which can be equated to approximately 5% of the global GDP – which is more than $3 trillion. According to the study, such diseases can have far more detrimental impacts, unlike natural disasters such as tsunamis or floods. 

Many businesses have already begun taking hits. For instance, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata), the COVID-19 outbreak could cost the aviation industry at least $113 billion in losses. This is quite a colossal figure.

The virus is not, however, directly responsible for these losses. Instead, it is proportional to how businesses, the consumers, and even the government respond to that outbreak. A lot of damages have already been reported in regard to the impact of the Coronavirus on the freelance economy of countries such as Italy.

So how is the Coronavirus affecting freelancers in the UAE? 

Coronavirus and the Freelance Economy in the UAE

It is no brainer that people are more likely to remain indoors during an outbreak to prevent them from contracting the disease. This, therefore, makes them avoid visiting public places; hence, cutting off ties with the outer world. 

As a freelancer in Dubai, you would think that this wouldn’t affect you much, probably because you work from home. Well, while this is the case for many of those who work from home, e.g., web developers, content writers & creators, etc., there is always a ripple effect for something. 

For instance, the website that these freelancers work for might have been selling goods or services. Due to the pandemic, fewer people will need such products and services, making the traffic to the website lower. At the end of the day, the website owner might not require the services of such individuals since the consumption from their end will be significantly lower. 

At times, freelancing entails meeting up with clients to have a clearer way forward on a project. However, with the spread of the virus, even the best venues to meet up with clients in Dubai are becoming unsafe as the spread of the virus is at its peak in crowded areas. 

Furthermore, the freelancers whose job entails interacting with a multitude have had their jobs greatly impacted. This is because the more the demand for their services, the more they stand to earn. As it is now, the number of events held in and around the UAE has significantly reduced.

Major events have either been postponed or canceled in the UAE over the Coronavirus fears. You can only imagine how many people who’d have been employed in such circumstances will walk away jobless. Many freelance DJs in Dubai had been scheduled to play at such events, while events managers have also been shown the door. As discussed earlier, the ripple effect is often huge, and you will find that many more people stand to lose their jobs or fail to land a well-paying gig due to this outbreak.

For example, this year’s K-pop concert Music Bank which was slated to go down in Dubai has been canceled. Apart from the DJs and event managers of the festival losing out on jobs, many more people who were involved also stand no chance of making money. A website would have been created for the sole purpose of offering logistics and further details concerning the event. In this case, a freelance web developer in Dubai would have gotten employment, but because of the virus, they get no gigs.

Such events usually have a vibrant social media presence, meaning that a talented social media manager is often behind all that. But what happens when the event gets canceled?

Bottom line

While you remain hopeful for the best, it is still advisable to keep yourself well-prepared for the future, as it is unknown. It might be high time you started to put more emphasis on your savings as the security of your current freelance job isn’t guaranteed. 

You may also be interested in looking for better-paying tasks that may not require you to interact with a multitude in public, crowded areas. This you can achieve by joining other experienced freelancers in Dubai, and let your talent or hobby make money for you.

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