The UAE has spared no effort in the last twenty years to ensure its economy is on par with international standards, and has always welcomed new innovations with open arms.
Among these developments has been the rise of remote working. For a country intent on shifting from an oil-reliant economy to a knowledge-based one, this new working paradigm couldn’t have come at a better time. Considering the new visa and residency options the UAE has been authorising in recent years, a shift to remote and hybrid work is quite timely.
To bring its vision for the future of the workforce to reality, the UAE appointed His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama as Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications in July 2020, after he was previously appointed as the Minister of Artificial Intelligence in 2017. The expanded Ministry represented a growing scope of focus for His Excellency and the UAE in line with world events and internal strategies.
Earlier this year in June, this Ministry partnered with US-headquartered payroll and onboarding company Deel to attract the best global talent and high-growth companies to the UAE. Deel is the highest-valued company in the global hiring, payments and compliance space, worth $12 billion.
Tarek Salam, UAE Lead and Head of MENA Expansion at Deel, shares insights about the nature of this partnership with the Abu Dhabi SME Hub.
Tarek Salam, UAE Lead and Head of MENA Expansion at Deel
Can you tell us about your company's core operations, and how that led to a partnership with the UAE's Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications Office?
Deel was launched in April 2019. It is a Y Combinator-backed unicorn that enables companies to hire and pay their global teams seamlessly in over 160 countries. Our core operations cover onboarding, contracts, expense management, benefits, payroll and built-in compliance for your international team. We also support workplace culture and experience through our partnerships and integrations with companies like Roots.
Over the past few years, workplaces have changed dramatically. Companies have accepted that the 9-5 traditional office setup isn't the only way to operate and are embracing remote work. This combined with salaries of tech hubs reaching sky highs, has opened up opportunities for talent around the world to compete for positions at the best companies. Yet, the legal and accounting of hiring internationally is still a nightmare.
At Deel, our job is to make it as easy and accessible as hiring locally. We believe that by removing all friction and mitigating the legal risks, we can provide businesses with the best global talent, provide opportunities for skilled workers around the world, and create millions of jobs that majorly impact the worldwide economy.
We're currently supporting 8,000+ clients around the world to streamline and scale their remote hiring operations. Deel is bridging the gap between talent & companies globally.
What are the key ways in which you will be supporting the UAE government and local companies?
A few use cases of scale-ups, enterprises and government entities leveraging Deel:
Streamline vendor/contractor management/payments/compliance across 160 countries, using Deel Shield and allowing Deel to hire contractors on your behalf to mitigate misclassification risks.
Hire full-time employees in countries where you do not have an entity via the Employer of Record model. In addition, we relocate employees via our internal Global Mobility Team.
Leverage Deel for Global Payroll for countries where you already own the entity today, and where you need a local payroll solution.
This is not your first time partnering with a government agency. What are some key takeaways you've learned from collaborating with the public sector, and how have these experiences informed Deel's decision-making and transformed your services so far?
Governments are true facilitators and accelerators for Deel’s global vision for talent mobility. Deel is aligned with the UAE’s vision for a global talent hub and remote work destination.
Given your extensive body of work, what would you say are the top opportunities and challenges existing within the field of remote working and hiring today that companies need to be aware of?
Talent mobility is about optimising the benefits employees can bring to their company. The tenure employees have with their company should be a positive experience, providing them with the opportunity to grow personally and professionally, to experience and achieve results in new areas, and, ultimately, progress in their careers. If an organisation accomplishes this type of work environment, it optimises employee performance and business results, including the highest return on investment. Furthermore, if a company creates such a positive reputation, it will attract top talent more easily.
To create and maintain an attractive brand that appeals to a global talent pool, companies will need to take their recruitment, HR and hiring strategies across international borders. Global mobility has enabled this to some degree and will no doubt continue to do so. However, not every employee will be able to move at the time a new job opportunity arises. Companies that adopt a flexible remote work model that allows employment across borders will reap the benefits of business optimisation and a higher return on investment.
What's next for Deel within the MENA region? Could we see a similar private-public partnership with countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt?
We have lots planned for the MENA region. Deel's mission is to always contribute to initiatives that place talent at the heart of everything we do, and provide businesses with the support they need to confidently scale into new markets, acquire the best global talent and transition towards hybrid or remote work.