Software company in Dubai - how to choose one?

The city of Dubai is one of the most well-known and iconic places in the world. The business capital of the Middle East is constantly growing, hosting thousands of startups and established businesses from all over the world.

One of the biggest challenges for these startups is the growing demand for high quality software and IT services. Want to know how to find a trustworthy and experienced software company able to deliver great products to the Middle East market? Let’s find out!

The biggest challenge of Dubai and Middle East - talents shortage

The software development market in Dubai, like the rest of the Middle East, is quite specific. The economy of the region is based on the oil industry, while the most important sectors in Dubai alone are real estate and construction, trade, transshipment port services and financial services.

The software development industry is growing, but it’s definitely not the most important factor in the country’s economic growth so far.

Of course, there are some well established and experienced software development companies in Dubai. Great for creating a website or mobile app, an e-commerce web design, adding a Wordpress blog to a corporate website or implementing a popular e-commerce platform, like Magento.

However, if you are looking for something a little more sophisticated or complex, you may experience some problems. Why?

Everything is about talent! Just as in many other places in the world, the Dubai and Emirati job market is short of talented engineers, programmers and designers. There are not many Emiratis who are skilled in software development, despite government initiatives like “One Million Arab Coders” that helps young people to learn coding.

At the same time, there are not many foreign software engineers who are willing to relocate to the Emirates. Why?

Ironically, we can blame the region’s economic growth. Dubai is simply too expensive for many specialists in the software development industry. The cost of living is very high compared to Europe.

For example, rental prices in Dubai are 152% higher than prices in Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where Boldare has an office.

On the other hand, the average salary for a frontend developer in Dubai is $22k per year, while in Warsaw it’s about $30k.

The gap between the cost of living and salary levels is a definite influence on the market situation. Thus most software companies are struggling to find great engineers. The local job market is too shallow and experienced, European-based specialists from the best technical universities are not interested in moving to the Middle East due to the lower salary levels.

Long story short, Dubai is a great place to do business, but if you’re looking for a software company that works with the best talent, the capital of UAE is a rough place.

Software companies in Dubai - the perspective

The job market situation strongly influences the number of web development or graphic design companies and their quality of work. With the limited availability of talent and salaries that are lower than those in Europe, it’s hard to find a company good enough to deliver something more complex than a corporate website or simple mobile app. It doesn’t mean that experienced companies don’t exist, because they do.

The problem is that the demand for high quality software development services is growing very rapidly. In 2018 alone, investors from MENA (Middle East and North Africa) invested almost $458 million in digital solutions in the United Arab Emirates alone. Moreover, according to a Gartner report, spending on software industry in the MENA region grew by 10.9% in 2017 and 12.7% in 2018. And this is just the beginning:

We’ve seen this in books, clothing, and now it’s happening in other industries such as traditional grocery markets and consumer durables. MENA CIOs must embrace digital transformation. They need to build the momentum to scale and create value by amplifying the power of their people, their organizational culture, and their technology platform to deliver breakthrough value.

- Peter Sondergaard, executive vice president and global head of research at Gartner

Demand for software and software-related services, like machine learning, AI or digital transformation will only increase - not only in Dubai, but also throughout the whole Middle East area.

Where to find a software company in Dubai?

It depends! If you need something simple, there’s plenty of great local companies that can help you with a web or mobile app. Search on Google or check to see a list of the best companies in Dubai.

Unfortunately, most software companies in the regions listed on have no reviews from clients and others are outsourcing work to their development centers in other countries, including India. Arrangements like this can severely limit your options when it comes to following the progress of a project and doesn’t help with communication on a daily basis.

So, what are your options then? Go beyond Dubai, the Gulf and the Middle East, especially if your app needs custom solutions and you’re looking for a real partnership. But how to choose the best software solution provider?

First of all, don’t be afraid to collaborate with an external partner. Here are some rules to follow when you start looking for a software company abroad.

How to choose software company in Dubai?

First of all, you need to know your organization’s business needs and the goals you wish to achieve. If you have at least a general idea about what your app should be and how it should work, you can start shortlisting software companies in Dubai and abroad.

To help you with an initial selection, we made a list of things you should pay special attention to.

Experience is a must

Especially if your app is something more than a simple mobile store. Are you thinking about ERP software, a custom ecommerce platform, an internet of things app, web streaming or a machine learning-powered platform? Or maybe you want to hit the market as soon as possible with your MVP app or you need a prototype to pitch potential investors with your breakthrough idea?

In this case, check if your shortlisted companies have previous experience working with similar projects and, also very important, with companies from your region. If your partner knows how to deal with the time zone differences and understands and respects your culture, you can be sure that the partnership will be rewarding. But how to verify their experience?

Simply check if the company you’re considering has its own profile and read the reviews from their past customers. Why Because this platform conducts customer interviews with the help of independent analysts so you can be sure that it’s absolutely credible.

How else you can check the reliability of a company? Explore their website, looking for case studies - they’re always published with the help of customers. If you look for a software company that also delivers graphic design, you should definitely check their work at Dribbble and on the Awwwards platform. There you can see how skilled the company is when it comes to product design.

Communication is crucial

When working on a complex product like software (web or mobile app) you need to be sure that you can reach your partners any time and that you’re on the same page when it comes to your business goals. How to check?

Write to them! See how long you have to wait for an answer, see how they approach you. If needed, provide them with details of your project, tell them about budget and expectations. If you have to wait too long for an answer, or you feel that after a few emails you’re still speaking with the wrong person, it’s not a good sign.

On the other hand, if you feel you’re treated with respect and the company appreciates your time and understands your business goals, then you’re on the right track. For example, here at Boldare, we usually answer every query within 24 hours (usually quicker) during normal business days. Next, we gather data about the prospective partner’s needs and assign our experts to conduct a first call to learn more.

After in-depth analysis, we offer either further consultations or deliver a preliminary offer with two different solutions. Then we work closely, polishing details, and after setting up we are ready to discuss contract specifics. In the meantime we arrange and conduct product discovery workshops, where the client can meet the dedicated product team. Then we are ready to sign a contract and start work.

This process is always the same, it’s simple and very informative. Everything has its own purpose and we pay huge attention to our potential customers, viewing them as partners with similar goals.

They know how to lead you through the software creation process

If the representative of the company you’re in touch with says that they know how to resolve your problems after the first call, then… think twice. Did they really get enough information from you? Do you think that they understand your specific business, your company and stakeholders’ expectations properly? Probably not! So how to be sure that they’re capable of understanding all of this important information?

You can simply ask, how they’re going to understand your needs. At Boldare, we kick off each collaboration with a so-called “product discovery workshop” held in our or client’s HQ. These initial workshops allow our partners to meet their team for the first time and, over one or two days, work together on a vision of the app and the strategy for achieving the business and product goals.

We discuss the expectations that come from the client’s organization, and the user needs. This way our dedicated team can learn quickly, directly from the source, how the app should be.

Are they agile? Methodology matters!

Why does the methodology used by the software company matter? Because it will influence the quality of the app and satisfaction of the end users. How?

If the company uses a waterfall methodology, you will have only limited influence on the development process. This means that you will be responsible for delivering to the external team a very detailed set of product documentation. Once the team start working on it you will, most likely, have almost no influence on the process whatsoever, until the point of delivery. The waterfall approach is rather old-fashioned, and might be a good solution for less complex apps or web platforms.

Agile is a methodology that engages the client from the very beginning. If the company you choose is working according to agile principles, you should be closely involved in the software development process. The process is divided into small iterations, called sprints. Each one lasts for a week or two and you can see the work progressing after each one.

Agile software teams work very closely with their partners, so prepare to be involved! You will most likely meet the team during the product discovery workshop. These workshops last for one or two days and are an ideal occasion to explain the goals of your app to the dedicated development team - technically and businesswise. Every doubt or potential problem can be spotted up front and fixed, before the development process even kicks off.

The biggest advantage of agile methodology over waterfall is that you can change the scope of the works at literally any point in the project. For example, if you decide with the team that a feature should be changed or replaced with a better one then no problem at all. In contrast, the waterfall methodology doesn’t allow for such easy changes of direction. The scope is executed according to the documentation and not to the actual needs of your organization or end users.

Below you can find a more detailed comparison of the agile and waterfall methodologies.

Agile characteristics:

  • The software development process is divided into sprints.
  • A flexible approach to app development - the product can be modified multiple times.
  • The customer actively participates in the development process.
  • Works well with any project - from a simple app to a complex, custom-made web platform.
  • Involves continuous testing and continuous integration.
  • The entire team feels responsible for project success, instead of blindly following instructions.
  • The budget is flexible and can be modified if necessary.
  • The customer can communicate with the whole team.

Waterfall characteristics:

  • The software development process divided into distinct phases.
  • A rigid approach to app development - modifications are not allowed.
  • The customer’s role is limited to providing project documentation.
  • Works well with less complex projects.
  • Testing takes place after product delivery.
  • The project manager is responsible for project success.
  • The budget is agreed on up front.
  • The customer communicates primarily with the project manager.

You can find more pro tips about hiring a software development company in this article: Hiring a web development company? Avoid these mistakes.

Dedicated development teams

Last but not least, make sure that company you speak with offers you a dedicated development team. What does that mean, if the team is “dedicated”?

It means that the software developers, and other team members, will be focused only on your product.

Team members work together closely, they know each other and have complementary, previous experience.

Some companies offer software teams, but in fact they mean simply a group of freelancers or software developers who are working from different countries or even continents. This is a huge obstacle that can impact on communication, and the final quality of the delivered app or web platform.

At Boldare, we offer dedicated teams that fit your business and product needs. This means that if you want to work on an MVP only or a very specific case of ERP software, we will offer you a team that has experience working with this particular type of product. They’re not only technically competent, but they understand the business side of your app.

Boldare's experience in the Middle East

It would be very unprofessional if we were to talk about the Dubai or Middle East software development market, without mentioning our own experience. Boldare has worked, and is currently working, with clients from this region and we understand the specifics of this market well. Here are some of our most recent collaborations:

If you want to read more about apps we have delivered, visit our profile and search through the 33 reviews we’ve got so far from our partners.

Software companies in Dubai… or somewhere else?

If you look for a software company in Dubai or the Middle East, you should definitely consider working with a partner from abroad. Poland is only two hours behind Dubai time and it is easy to find the best software development talents in the world there. What’s more, the cost of software development here is still much lower than in Western Europe, but with the same high quality. Whatever path you choose - good luck!