Outsourcing in the Middle East: 4 Common Challenges & Solutions

Outsourcing in the Middle East: 4 Common Challenges & Solutions

With around $80 Billion in revenue, the global outsourcing industry is booming and is providing companies or businesses a great tool to keep moving forward.

However, Outsourcing is not just the act of delegating tasks to people. It needs serious planning and implementation if you ever want to do it right and avoid wasting your money and time!

And even when you’ve had a good plan, you might face many obstacles along the way.
Below are the 4 most common challenges (along with their proposed solutions) with a special focus on the countries in the Middle East and GCC:

Challenge #1: Language Barrier.

Outsourcing to offshore freelancers means you have added a new culture/language to your overall equation. It might take your team in Lebanon quite a while to get used to coordinating the new app design with a designer from Sweden for example. Many misunderstandings might occur especially when it seems impossible to get the message through. Language incompatibility can cause a stressful environment and might even slow down the business.

Solution: Choose your location wisely.

Choosing your service provider according to cost and skills is just part of your equation. Finding a freelancer with the required skill set and has language compatibility is an entirely different story. Local or near-shore service providers are the best option, especially if you are outsourcing tasks related to customer support, translation or writing.   

Challenge #2: Time Zone Difference.

Time difference usually helps you accomplish more, viewing that the work is in progress 24/7. However, if your employees –or yourself- are in Dubai, you will find it hard to communicate with your service providers in the US without working late nights or early mornings to compensate for the 8 hours difference. Cases like these usually frustrate the employees and reduce their productivity.

Solution:  Adopt effective ways of communication.

One thing you can start with is to categorize your tasks between important or urgent and normal operations. If a task falls under the normal operations category and does not need your urgent input then you can reply when you get to the office. However, if the task is urgent, you might need to sort out the matter through a call (Skype, Hangouts or normal call). I also recommend weekly meetings to make sure the project is on track.

PS: there are many collaboration platforms that make communication and information sharing much easier such as Slack, Trello and so on.

Challenge #3: Legal Obstacles.

Countries like Lebanon, the UAE, Qatar, and others in the region allow freelancing as long as the freelancer follows the legalities. Unfortunately, those legal aspects are not communicated properly with the public and might affect the freelancer along with the company who has hired him/her.

Solution:  Do your research.

When you’re looking to hire a freelancer, make sure that you know the regulations of the country you are operating in. Here are some insights to help you get started:

  • Lebanon: freelancers should have a tax identification number (also known as an MOF number). In case the freelancer does not have an MOF number, you will be taxed  7.5% from the cost of the invoice.
  • Dubai and Qatar:  Freelancers are only allowed to work if they are licensed to. So make sure your freelancer is licensed!

Challenge #4: Skills Mismatch.    

Outsourcing something you are not good at or have no experience with is quite hard. For example, it is not easy to evaluate a developer when you own an offline business and have never worked on a website. Which is why many people get frustrated trying to find someone and might end up with a freelancer who is not fit to do the work.

✔Solution:  Know what to look for.

Outsourcing requires a well-thought plan, in my previous articleOutsourcing: 6 Steps To Do It Right” I went through a series of 6 steps that will help you start smart and get the results you are looking for. However, one important thing when evaluating freelancers is to get some knowledge about what you are looking to outsource or get the help of a consultant: write down the required skills along with your business requirements to make sure the freelancer meets those standards.


While outsourcing can help you grow and expand your business, everything comes with a price. If you do not get the right knowledge about all the aspects of hiring service providers you will end up stuck in a mess. So do your research, know your requirements and plan well!

Don’t forget to visit the Feedeed Blog regularly for more outsourcing hacks!  

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