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Hard work and dedication pays off in United Arab Emirates

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Sahar Moussly photoSahar Moussly of ATC overseas members Trans Gulf Management describes the obstacles she had to overcome to establish her translation business in UAE.

I started Trans Gulf Management in 1997 in the UAE. It is a rapidly developing oil-rich country with a growing demand for translation, creative copy writing and simultaneous interpreting for conferences reflecting the expansion of the country’s economy.

Like many many other Arab states, UAE is a male dominated society. This meant, that as a female I recognised that I would have to work harder than my male counterparts to overcome the prejudices against female businesswomen.

Like any other country that is opening its doors to new investments, it is hoping to attract multinational companies as part of a long term strategy designed to diversify the economy and reduce its dependency on oil. UAE is a country that offers a lot of opportunities but not without many obstacles and challenges.

The country is only 35 years old and the translation business is not regulated as you might expect in other more established countries. Consequently many unprofessional opportunists try to jump on the wagon at the expense of quality translation and interpreter providers.

The country is a free tax haven, but any company has to pay high registration fees to the government and to a local sponsor.

The best approach for a UAE-based translation company seeking to gain any credibility is to be accredited by the Ministry of Justice, which is what Trans Gulf Management did.

Eight years on, running a translation agency in the UAE has proved to be very hectic but very rewarding. Clients in this part of the world do not understand the importance of translation or interpretation, a translator is never given enough time in the planning, therefore a translator is always working under pressure to keep tight deadlines. Meanwhile, interpreters do not work under ideal conditions and many times we find ourselves jumping into an interpreter's booth without having a clear idea about the paper we are interpreting, let alone having documents in advance.

Generally clients delay payments, although, as a reputable company, we still pay our translators and interpreters on time. Inevitably, this leads to financial pressures on the company.

Having said all that, perseverance and hard work will pay off. All the states in the Gulf region are considering the UAE in general and Dubai in particular a benchmark to measure their achievements. Therefore, a company that sticks to its principles, offers a quality service and looks after its employees will soon be able to extend and work in the whole of the Gulf region.

The business, like elsewhere in the world, is under threat from cut prices and low quality. However, for those persevering in offering a translation and interpreting service with a difference and willing to work hard, they can develop a successful and profitable business in the UAE.

But no one should be under any illusions about the requirements to establish a translation business in a country such as the UAE which is still developing.

I have mentioned that hard work is essential - and that can often mean saying good bye to weekends and quiet evenings. So you need to be able to take the pressure - especially if you are to accommodate particularly demanding clients and, at the same time maintain good personal relationships with them. But it is not just the clients who you need to keep on side, the translators and interpreters are equally important. But if you really want to survive in this market it is of paramount importance to employ someone dedicated to follow up invoices and delayed payments.

When you gain a good reputation, do not feel complacent, work harder to maintain this reputation and you will be a winner. www.transgulfme.com


This article was originally published in Communicate - the Association of Translation Companies' newsletter - www.atc.org.uk

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