How to Hire a Mobile App Developer in UAE

How to convert a website into a mobile application

When it comes to hiring an app developer you truly can’t risk going with someone inexperienced and unprofessional. The good thing though is that there are many developers working in the UAE right now that could help your startup or business. Keep in mind though that for someone to be successful, you have to be transparent about your expectations and requirements.

First things first, what kind of mobile app are you trying to launch? Building a business model is the most basic part of you mobile application, and it must include developing in it. You need to know what kind of mobile app you’re building, is it a simple design with offline features? Do you need this developer to build custom animations, prototypes, and wireframing? Will your application require logins? GPS? What about payment information and security?

These are all questions that will get the ball rolling, but keep in mind that not all developers are capable of doing these things. You should consider taking a look at what the top mobile app developers in the UAE are doing, and this could narrow down your options.

Let's start with the four aspects that you need to keep in mind before you hire a mobile app developer in the United Arab Emirates.

#1. Do some research into similar apps:

Before you begin posting jobs for app developers, consider doing some market research on your own. When you need quality work you must first know what the competition is doing and how they are achieving their own goals. It’s not about copying; it’s about studying and learning your own business more and laying out exactly what you need moving forward.

By identifying key players in the field you can assess what they have done for their own app and what worked best. You can sometimes even find information on the process of developing the app, though some companies prefer not to share this.

#2. Hire in-House or outsource?

This question is important for every aspect of your business. Often, startups opt for outsourcing work to save costs, but the reality is that if you don’t hire someone with experience, you may end up losing time and money. Things to consider here are time, staff, resources, and ultimately, technical needs.

Some pros of hiring in-house include the ability to dictate hours, benchmarks, watch live progress, and get to know your developer. However, unless you are in Dubai, it can be hard to find someone to come in to your office, and it will require you setting him or her up as an employee, which can be costly.

Outsourcing, on the other hand, involves hiring someone on per contract or per project basis. You can find many resources online to hire mobile app developers and specify what skills you require, which means that you need to be as detailed as possible in order to get only serious inquiries. You can hire anyone, but there is no real control over work or time. Also, you have to be very clear on the contract and deadlines.

#3. Triple check any laws pertaining to your app and the developer:

Taking the decision to hire someone can be more complex if you stop to consider the laws that surround mobile app development in the UAE. The first thing is to set up intellectual property (IP) rights to your application, but we’ll touch on that more in depth later. Another point here is copyright, as it is necessary to have it in the UAE, in order to protect you from any infringement. Trademarks, on the other hand, are essential for things such as design, logo, and name, and if you are launching the app beyond the UAE, you may need to have an international brand protection strategy.

But let’s talk UAE Copyright Law, as it is not as straightforward. In the UAE, the employer doesn’t immediately own the copyright written by employees, instead, the law states that the assignment of copyright in five or more future works will be void. This part is based on the French Code and Egyptian Copyright Law, and this means that, there is not any portion of it that states that all work created by a developer is owned by you the commissioner.3 We’ll discuss in depth when we talk contract signing.

#4. Compare resources and tools:

Whether you decide to go with someone in-house or with an outsource company/freelancer, it is still necessary to understand what designing and development tools they can use and implement.

The most common technologies used in mobile application development include:

  • HTML5
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Platform Specific Software Development Kit (SDK), such as:
    • Android SDK, and
    • Apple® XCode
  • Titanium Mobile, and related supports for Mobile App development
  • Adobe®, and related supports for Mobile App development
  • PhoneGap
  • jQueryMobile
  • Sencha Touch
  • DojoMobile

Which technology to use is truly up to you as the owner, but you do have to consider whether the app needs to be multiplatform, or used for a single Operating System (OS). Once you have evaluated the right app development software, it is up to you to see if the developer in question can manage using it.

Some things to consider as well regarding the main software technologies:

  • HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript, are web technologies that developers should already be familiar with. Multiple platforms can be targeted, but HTML5 and JavaScript aren’t always allowed to access all of the device features.
  • Platform Specific Software Development Kit (SDK), ensures that the technology can give a native look and feel, while also accessing every feature on the chosen platform. For this same reason, the code has to be rewritten for each platform separately, which can be costly and requires more time.
  • Titanium Mobile is a cross-platform mobile application framework using JavaScript code and then compiled to native iOS and Android platform code, which can save time and be used by more developers.
  • Adobe® Flex Mobile uses the ActionScript for creating code for Android, iOS, and Blackberry platforms. All platforms written here are usable across devices and sold on the main app stores.1

Now that the process has begun and you have chosen developers to possibly hire, there are four things to consider in the onboarding process:

#1. Listen to your developer’s questions and suggestions:

The plan and idea are all yours, but once you find a suitable candidate, it could be significant to get their own opinion into what you want. While you are the business owner, the developer is the expert in everything that has to do with the actual functioning backbone of the app.

If you pay attention to their initial questions about the project, the layout, the timeline, and everything else, you will realize whether this is the right person to carry out the project, but also whether your idea is functional and can be engaging as well.

#2. Quiz their knowledge on current trends:

Probe them on their knowledge, including the technologies they are familiar with and trends in the mobile app development world.

Things to consider for this year and the future is that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is changing the landscape in web applications, as Google has announced that it will have a new separate search index for mobile web searching, which means your app will have to work differently, particularly to use SEO and sustain velocity.

Also, some apps are already using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality(VR, and if your app has a gaming component, this may become a necessity. Cloud-driven apps are the norm now, which means you should consider creating an app that uses data from the cloud and takes minimal space in the user’s memory space.

And finally, if your application requires login information and user data, concern over safety should be a priority, but consider that for now, some JavaScript frameworks are more secure.2

#3. Framework management:

Honesty is the best policy from the start of any project, and what that means in this case is that the developer needs to have a systems development life cycle that is clear about deadlines, continuity, and stability throughout the development process and the life cycle of the mobile app.

With this in mind, the chosen developer must have an established approach to streamline the whole development process. Many development companies will give you an individualized framework, but if you are looking to hire a freelancer or individual developer, ask them about this process and see how he responds.

#4. Communication and deliveries:

Most developers in Dubai and the UAE have worked with tight deadlines and big companies, which is why they understand that your mobile app development needs a clear path of communication on every aspect of the project. Even if you are hiring a freelance developer, you still need to be assured on certain communication and deliveries, including face-to-face meetings (even if virtual), demo presentation, and sprint meetings.

Probe the company or the developer you are looking to bring onboard on the process the have for these deliveries and what their plan is to do so. Part of this is that you feel comfortable comparing what the developer is offering to what you need and your budget.

Once you have chosen the right candidate, it is time to bring them on the team and there are four straightforward steps to make the process as smooth as possible.

#1. Make it a binding contract with clear guidelines and stipulations:

No professional relationship should start without clear expectations, and this is especially important when it comes to hiring the right mobile app developer. If you choose someone local in the UAE, make sure you meet with them at the time of bringing them onboard to sign a formal contract that includes all the things that have been agreed upon by both parties.

Because UAE law doesn't immediately give the commissioner rights to whatever the developer creates, you will need to have this included in this contract. Include clear and explicit language that gives you the copyright to every single aspect of the project, particularly at the completion of the development.3 Take into account every other conversation you have had with your potential developer and use that to build clear guidelines and stipulations.

Copyright and intellectual property (IP) protection are top priority when it comes to hiring someone else to be your mobile app developer. While rules vary country to country, the best thing you can do if you are based in the UAE, is to have a nondisclosure agreement ready, as well as a copyright document that gives you sole rights from the beginning of the project.4

Many startups and companies use NDAs—legal contracts between two people—stating what information is to remain confidential, even after the professional relationship is over. This is a document that you should have everyone sign, especially an app developer, who will know the ins and outs of your framework and plan.

Another document to have sign is a copyright, which means that the mobile app developer is essentially signing off any intellectual property off to you. In this case, your new developer will be in charge of “creating” your vision and your plan, and will deliver a working application. This is why they should give you the copyright to all this work at the end and at every step of the project, because otherwise they could potentially come after you and try to take away your product, and it is not going to be protected under the UAE Federal Copyright Law.4

#3. The developer and you need to beware from infringing other applications:

While it may seem like your mobile app is unique and noteworthy, there are many cases when infringement can become a legal problem, ultimately costing money and possibly hurting the business forever. Before beginning any work, you must check the Intellectual property legislation of the UAE for any work that may relevant.

Trademark and copyright go closely together, from code used, to logo, patterns, and even font. In the UAE, once you have registered your trademark, any infringement becomes a criminal offense under UAE laws, and this can be extremely costly, up to AED 250,000 (approx. USD 68,000) as well as imprisonment in some cases.5 Be sure to check that your idea remains original as well as the developer’s, in every step of the development and launch.

#4. Make your design the ultimate goal:

Design is the ultimate goal for a mobile web application, as it is the reason that you are looking for a developer in the first place. The design of your application dictates how it functions, how the audience receives it, and what can measure its success. A wrong design can break a company, but an outstanding design can make an application the success it is meant to be.

A legal contract, and the many documents that state what the final design should look like and operate like, are good ways to keep things obvious and firm throughout this process. A good app developer knows not to deviate from the desired design, and especially, not to do it without approval. The developer should protect and work towards completing your design at all times, which should be evident at the end of this project.

Conclusion Hiring a mobile app developer shouldn’t be an odyssey. Dubai has many choices for you to look at, including mobile app developing agencies, as well as freelancers, and other candidates. You can find local UAE developers that can work as in-house employees, but you could also try hiring someone outside your company to save costs and time.

Ultimately, how to hire a mobile app developer in the UAE shouldn’t be an instant decision, it does take some time and dedication on both parts. If you take these tips into consideration and work on being straightforward, you will eventually find the perfect mobile app developer. Remember, no question is a bad question, so ask them all and explain what and when you need tasks to be ready.