How Can UAE and Wider Region Outsource Software Development?

Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner

What comes first to your mind when you think of the UAE and Middle East?

Hot climate, great sea resorts, ultra-modern architecture, and maybe oil industry.

But how about software development companies in Dubai or Doha?

The thing is that The Middle East countries are rich in gas and oil, but now they really are in lack of IT talents, because the IT industry is also on rise.

Let’s have a look at the programming job market and if they might need to outsource their development to popular outsourcing destinations in Eastern Europe.

Is it Hard to Hire A Programmer in the Middle East?

The Middle East countries are rich in gas and oil, but what they really lack is IT talents.

On the one hand, locals prefer to work in petroleum or banking industries, the most prolific and developed ones in these territories.

These are well-paid jobs, so youth doesn’t feel the urgent need to master new professions and study programming instead of economics or drilling.

That’s is the main reason why software development companies in UAE or Qatar suffer from talent shortage.

However, a new tendency is shaping now. Digital transformation changes every single sphere in the world, and job search is not an exception.

If more and more companies, including gas & oil ones, require automatization of their processes, the demand for digital specialists will also grow in the Middle East.

But at first, it is likely that digitalization will increase a skill gap.

impact of automation on talent and skills requirements in the next 1 to 3 years UAE
2016 Middle East Human Capital Trends
The new organization: Different by design by Deloitte


“This gap is a direct result of the positive news that the UAE is embarking on a period of intense digitisation.

But the flipside of this is that the country faces a shortage in the number of skilled IT workers required to turn these digital dreams into reality,” said Mike Weston, vice-president at Cisco in the Middle East.

So, what are the major issues in hiring programmers in the Middle East region?

  1. Lack of software developers
  2. Lack of experienced and skilled developers
  3. High cost of software development
  4. Outdated recruiting methods
  5. Unadaptable education system
  6. Slow hiring
  7. Poor retention
  8. Issues with freelance

Lack of software developers

According to the IDC study, 30% of world’s developers live in EMEA with the majority of them in European countries which are the main outsourcing destinations – Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Hungary, etc.

It means that the share of Middle East developers is quite low there.

Although these well-developed countries are keen of tech novelties, IT is just gaining momentum there.

Locals are mainly engaged in finance and economy, gas and oil, and such specialists are adequately rewarded.

If job satisfaction level is high, it’s unlikely that they will leave their positions and start working in web design or mobile app development company in the United Arab Emirates.

Lack of experienced and skilled developers

One more problem for software development companies in UAE, Kuwait, Qatar or other Middle East employers is finding an experienced programmer.

IT has just started developing there, so the job market is full of entry-level or middle specialists.

If you want to hire a senior developer, you need to headhunt and overpay – offer higher salary, more generous benefits package, etc.

Some of the local mobile app development companies opt for hiring junior developers.

Young talents are easier to adapt to the changeable environment of the IT world, and they are more willing to learn.

The companies are proud to give a chance to the new generation and “bring up” qualified employees with needed skills.

The above mentioned strategy works well if the skillset isn’t very complicated. Recruitment company Robert Half UAE claims that IT security, IoT as well as visualization are in high demand now, and unfortunately, these are not the skills one can get in a week or two.

High cost of software development

If something is rare, you pay double price for it.

This economic rule works for any sphere, and IT isn’t an exception.

As it was mentioned, the number of skilled programmers is limited in the Middle East.

So, software development companies in UAE, Bahrain or Kuwait have only two options – either they invest money into education of young talents or they overbuy experts from local companies offering more than the competitors do.

Plus, take into account the average cost of living in UAE or Qatar, and you will understand why the salary can’t be low there.

For instance, junior software developers get around $3000, which is an average net salary in the UAE.

Recruiting methods

Only a few decades ago it was enough to hire a specialist that meets the list of demands – education, experience, tools.

This method works no longer for Western companies.

They choose candidates that are easy to work with, candidates who share their vision and ideas.

Now more and more software development companies from the Persian Gulf pay attention to soft skills.

If you look through the vacancies of US firms, you will notice that the lion’s share of requirements is about communication and relations with colleagues.

Top ranked most important from a list of 10 job skills. Future Skills Supporting the UAE’s Future Workforce by British Council
Top ranked most important from a list of 10 job skills.
Future Skills Supporting the UAE’s Future Workforce by British Council


Middle East companies are starting to follow this example and set different requirements for their recruiters.

But it takes time to get used to the “game-changing” techniques and discover the right ones.

Local recruiting agencies keep hiring developers according to their hard skills, although software companies in Qatar or UAE need more – they need not only a mobile app developer with 5+ year experience, but a сreative, passionate team player with analytical thinking.

Education system

The job market is not ready for new demands yet.

But recruiting is relatively flexible field that will adapt to changes soon.

The question is how quickly universities will prepare students for the challenges.

Introducing new courses and training teachers are the first and the most obvious steps to upgrade education.

Will cumbersome procedures in government and educational establishments get in the way of progress?

Most probably, yes.

That’s why Persian Gulf software companies eagerly take control over the job market situation and nurture young talents for their business.

Slow hiring

Time to fill a vacancy is decreasing gradually in developed countries.

On average, it takes 30 days to find a new person for a position in the US according to the Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report 2017.

But the local market is mature, both employers and candidates follow well-established rules and recruiting goes smoothly in general.

Selection timing. 2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report by SHRM
Selection timing.
2017 Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report by SHRM


The situation is different in the Middle East region: “48 per cent of MENA companies take quite a long time to fill a job vacancy: between one and three months.”

What causes such problems for UAE software development companies?

First of all, it is bureaucracy. Agreeing on a job description, making an offer and changing job are fixed procedures regulated by strict rules.

This inflexibility prevents employers from quick hiring. As a result, companies and candidates lose their time and money.


Companies’ requirements are growing, but what do they give in return?

Not much, as employee think.

They often reject new offers or migrate from a software company in Kuwait to another one in Qatar because they want better remuneration and attitude.

Such behavior is costly for companies as they need to start hiring over and over again.

Moreover, since the majority of businesses prefer to teach young talents from scratch, the process looks like this: hiring – teaching – losing – hiring again.

Taking care of a colleague might cost less than hiring and teaching a new one.

Issues with freelance

With all the obstacles on the way of successful hiring, why don’t IT companies in the Middle East work with freelancers?

“…there seems to be a high demand for freelancers in the region, with 53 percent of companies throughout the MENA outsourcing work to freelancers,” says “State of the Freelance Market in the MENA”.

But freelancers cannot solve all the issues with recruitment and hiring.

Anyways, some companies stick to “in-house only” policy because it’s more traditional way of employment.

Let’s consider UAE where freelancers who earn more than Dh375,000 a year ($102,110) are obliged to register a VAT number.

If freelancer’s income is lower, they cannot register VAT and companies refuse from working with them.

How Middle East Can Improve Hiring with Offshore Software Development

All the hurdles described above are temporary as the local authorities and entrepreneurs work hard to solve them.

They introduce new programs in curriculum, invest in training, apply new methods and tools.

The odds are that the Middle East will eliminate recruiting problem in the region and as it’s already on the way to becoming a new world tech hub.

But what if the need for software development service is urgent?

Are there any ways to hire skilled developers right now?

As it was stated before, more than half of software development companies in UAE, Kuwait or other Gulf countries are using software outsourcing services.

Outsourcing software development is a real life-changing solution for the region in the nearest future.

And one of the biggest and the closest outsourcing destination that Middle East countries can consider is Ukraine.

Let’s take a look at how Ukrainian offshore software development services can tackle with the existing recruiting problems in the region:

  1. Large IT talent pool
  2. Various tech stacks
  3. Affordable rates
  4. Flexible recruitment models
  5. Numerous education facilities
  6. Fast paced hiring
  7. Employee perks & benefits
  8. Remote office developers for hire

Large IT talent pool

The population of Ukraine counts about 48 mln people.

Just compare it with Bahrain’s 1,5 mln, Kuwait’s 4 mln or UAE’s 9,5 mln.

But striking figures are here: there about 127K programmers in Ukraine.

The number of software developers grew by 27% in one year according to DOU.

Such positive dynamics means that Ukrainian IT job market won’t be depleted in the nearest future and the country is ready to take both short-term tasks and build dedicated development teams for longtime projects.

Various tech stacks

It’s easier to find the needed tech stack when the share of programmers in the region is high.

Ukraine follows the world IT trends, so the consumers of local offshore software development services will be spoiled by choice of Java, Javascript or mobile app developers CVs.

On the other hand, the latest and the rarest technology are also on the market.

One of our clients addressed us to hire Elixir developers who are rare and hard to find.

In most cases, there are no jobless Elixir devs or those who are just sitting on the bench in outsourcing companies.

Those who are available on the job market are mainly entry-level programmers.

Why so?

Elixir, a programming language that appeared seven years ago with the last stable release in 2018.

It is “too modern” to have many experts.

Anyways, our recruiters took up the challenge and started the search.

As a result, they found 55 Elixir developers and showed relevant CVs to the client.

The vacancy was filled right after the second interview.

Affordable rates

Two factors make up great outsourcing destination – talent pool and price. And Ukraine can boast of both.

Below you can see the table with software developers salaries in Ukraine in 2018-2019.

Tech Stack / Seniority LevelJunior DeveloperMiddle DeveloperSenior Developer
iOS Developer$6 000-10 000$14 000-24 000$30 000-36 000
Android Developer$6 000-10 000$14 000-24 000$30 000-36 000
Objective C Developer$9 000-15 600$21 000-36 000$42 000-60 000
PHP Developer$6 000-10 000$18 000-25 000$42 000-60 000
ASP.NET$9 000-14 400$24 000-36 000$42 000-60 000
RoR Developer$9 000-18 000$24 000-36 000$42 000-54 000
Python Developer$6 000-10 000$18 000-30 000$42 000-60 000
Unity Developer$6 000-10 000$18 000-24 000$30 000-48 000
C# Developer$12 000-18 000$24 000-42 000$45 000-72 000
C/C++ Developer$9 000-14 000$24 000-33 000$42 000-60 000

Flexible recruitment models

There are two types of offshore software development companies, outsourcing and IT staffing.

The former offer ready-to-go teams while the latter hire developers according to clients’ requirements.

If a software development company from UAE is looking for top-quality recruiters who use advanced tools and methods to find mobile and web developers, it’s better to address IT staffing companies.

Hiring is their primary business focus, so they have a large pool of candidates and know how to work with them.

Numerous education facilities

Post-Soviet countries inherited advancements of tech education in the USSR, and it made a solid background for developing their universities during independence times.

Nowadays 82% of Ukrainian programmers hold a university degree.

They also have plenty of opportunities to get new skills or develop the existing ones in numerous meetups, workshops, hackathons, and conferences.

Fast paced hiring

The more haste, the less speed. Indeed, if you need to get approval for a vacancy, for posting it, for lots of other bureaucracy things, you lose precious time.

Dynamic business environment doesn’t tolerate pauses, so even hiring must be smart and fast.

2-3 months to fill a vacancy will cost a fortune for a software development company from Dubai, so they would rather pay for offshore software development services not to wait long.

Ukrainian recruiters need 2-4 weeks to hire an offshore developer.

What is more, 2-3 months are enough to find a developer for relocation.

Skilled recruiters can fill the vacancy quickly, so you won’t waste months on local red tape.

Employee perks & benefits

Remuneration package is a huge advantage of cooperation with offshore software development companies.

When companies hire freelancers, it should be either ready that a freelancer will leave soon or make up a benefits package for them.

But if they choose to hire a remote office developer, the vendor takes this responsibility upon itself.

For example, in Qubit Labs we provide development teams with office facilities, equipment, health insurance, and team building activities.

Finding developers is important, but if you build long-term strategic relations with your team, retention activities mean a lot.

Remote office developers for hire

Reliable offshore software development companies prefer not to work with freelancers.

Vendors provide development teams with office space – open-space or separate rooms – to make sure that all developers are working on the client’s project eight hours a day and five days a week.

There are project managers and HRs who monitor their performance and check if everything is OK from development and psychological sides.

Are you a software development company from Dubai that looks for leveling up the business with top-notch IT solutions?

Want to lift the burden of tedious hiring efforts?

Consider using offshore software development services from Qubit Labs.

Our company can hire a programmer of any tech stack and seniority level with the needed soft skills.

Popular Java or rare Elixir devs, our internationally certified recruiters will fill the vacancy in 2-6 weeks.

Also, you can choose the best fitting software outsourcing model for your business – we offer creating dedicated teams and building offshore development centers, team leasing, IT relocation and many other services.

Don’t hesitate to ask us questions or schedule a free consultation with our CEO.


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Hire Top Developers in Israel (In-house, Offshore, Remote)

How To Hire Developers for a Startup: Interview with DrasticFun CEO

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Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner

Iva Kozlovskaya is a Managing Partner of Qubit Labs. Founder of social project created for women – WIT Ukraine.
Iva has been working in operations, sales and project management, started her career as a recruiter and went through all stages up to HR Director and then Founder of her own IT initiatives. Iva is experienced in working with international clients for IT outstaffing, handles complicated challenges in any field including company process, finance, marketing and administration. She is also a speaker for global tech conferences, and author of webinars and articles on tech topics.
Nowadays Iva runs her company that helps clients from the USA, Europe, and the Middle East to establish their development teams worlwide.