Career

How employees of UAE Tech Startups rate them as employers

Seven out of the ten best places to work for in 2016 were technology companies; most of which did not even exist fifteen years ago. These are not the only ones, many tech startups in Silicon Valley have built the reputation of being employer of choice. We don’t really have similar rankings for this region. There is Great Place to Work that ranks best places to work for in UAE and some other countries from the region but their approach is not even close to employees’ choice rankings. There’s not much data available anyway when it comes to performance of startups as employers.

But many of regional startups have received reviews on their Glassdoor pages. We’ve tried to pull some of those reviews and ratings together to give you an idea about how employees of these startups rate them as employers. We have made sure that each of these startups have atleast ten reviews. You may argue that its too small of a sample size to reflect performance of these startups as employers but that’s all we have right now.

Careem

Overall Rating: 3.6 out of 5
UAE Rating: 4.3 out of 5

Careem is undoubtedly the hottest startup in the region right now which happens to be the first and only unicorn as well from MENA. They’ve been hiring for more than fifty positions across their offices all around the region and for the engineering office they’ve open in Germany as well.

As of now, Careem has total of 12 reviews on Glassdoor which give company an overall rating of 3.6 out of 5 and 89% of these employees are likely to recommend the company to a friend. The breakdown of all these 12 reviews is as follow:

Culture & Values: 4.1
Work/Life Balance:  3.2
Senior Management: 3.4
Comp & Benefits: 3.1
Career Opportunities: 3.6

The overall rating of 3.6 gets even worse if we limit it to reviews of full-time employees. Those 8 reviews rate Careem as 3.3 out of 5. However the rating improves significantly if we filter the reviews by Careem’s UAE office(s) only. The 4 reviews rate Careem as 4.3 out of 5.

The reviews highlight culture and environment as biggest pros of working at the company and discrepancies in salaries, absence of work-life balance and lack of processes as cons.

Quotes from a 5-Star Review: 

“Great Leadership at the top. They sit and mingle with their staff.”

“Great Culture. Truly Multi Cultural.”

“Great Fun. Great Office.”

“Some very smart people.”

Quotes from a 1-Star Review:

“Bureaucratic, political minefield where egos and top management pursue their personal interests at all costs.”

“The business is a disaster and it’s a CHEAP company – money is wasted in ineffective campaigns (e.g. A/B testing no existent, data was not available nor really consulted if it was, etc) yet costs were cut on things like napkins and (horrible, usually out of service) coffee in the office, or post-its became more scarce.”

“They migrated the company FROM Gmail TO Outlook #truestory – good example of the type of mentality running the company.”

“The technology is super broken – data architecture is a disaster so you cannot pull data you need, regular platform outrages etc”

Bayt.com

Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5
UAE rating: 4.3 out of 5

Bayt.com is one of the oldest ‘startups’ from the region that is still going very strong. Started by Rabea Ataya, Dan Farha, Akram Assaf, Mona Ataya in 2000, the startup was profitable from second year of its operations and generates tens of millions of dollars in revenue every year.

It has total of 24 reviews on Glassdoor with an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 which is the best among tech startups of the region that have atleast 10 reviews. The likelihood of these reviewers for recommending Bayt.com as an employer to their  friends is 80%. The rating trends below reflect that people are most satisfied with Culture & Values of the company rating it 4.8 out of 5.

Culture & Values: 4.8
Work/Life Balance :4.4
Senior Management: 3.7
Comp & Benefits: 3.4
Career Opportunities :4.3

Only 8 of these 24 reviews are from UAE but even with these 8 reviews, the rating by UAE employees is almost the same at 4.3 out of 5. The best part of these reviews is that Rabea Ataya who is the CEO of Bayt.com has 100% approval rating so all these employees who have reviewed Bayt.com as an employer have shown great confidence in their CEO.

Even though most of the reviews don’t highlight any cons of the company but those who have shared the cons have complained about lack of growth and low salaries. Great work environment and work/life balance were highlighted as pros of working at Bayt.com by the reviewers.

Quotes from 4 & 5 Star Reviews: 

“High level of learning and competition”

“Bonuses on quarterly and yearly bases.”

“Flexible working environment.”

“Overtime and achievement celebrations.”

“A company with a great corporate culture. It felt like a family! Rabea, our CEO was so approachable, something which is a rarity in any other large organization.

We would celebrate ‘fiestas’ ever quarter where sales and non-sales achievers were publicly recognized. Regular monthly brownbag session are held, where speakers from all walks of life are invited – a great opportunity for learning.

Very open culture – if you have a great idea, pitch it to the management and they will give it a good listen.”

Quotes from 2 & 3 Star Reviews:

“Bad work environment, micro-management, salaries below the market range.”

“Leadership in the office is lacking and management is sitting ducks.”

“Lebanese dominated management (arab mentality / local feel still there.”

“Salaries are below average and commission is not very motivating.”

“High turn over and all the good ambitious stars leave.”

Souq.com

Overall rating: 3.2 out of 5
UAE rating: 3.9 out of 5

The largest ecommerce website of the region, Souq.com was recently acquired by Amazon for $580 million. Co-founded by Syrian entrepreneur Ronaldo Mouchawar in 2005, the website has more than 23 million visitors every month.

Souq.com has total of 71 reviews on Glassdoor with an overall rating of 3.3 out of 5. Only 65% of Souq.com’s employee are likely to recommend it to a friend as an employer according to these reviews. The breakdown of these ratings below reflect senior management as a problem area with rating of 2.6.
3.0
2.9
2.6
 3.1
3.1

The overall rating from 18 reviews of UAE employees is 3.9 out of 5 which is a great improvement from 3.3-rating by Souq.com employees all around the region and beyond.

Sharing pros and cons of the company, the employees have highlighted good working environment as a pro and top management and weak HR department as cons.

Quotes from 4 & 5 Star Reviews

“Attractive Environment and Having a Very Good Experience form the number of daily transactions and heavy requests and huge scale inside SOUQ + you got both experience in legacy Monolithic application that contains very thing and building micro-services architecture and They don’t mind what the exact technology you use if achieve the performance.

“Very Good Salary and Flexible Working Hours.”

“Great place to start and build a career. I can’t imagine comparing the experience you get at SOUQ.COM compared to industry. If you’re willing to work hard, the sky is the limit.”

“Souq is such an amazing place to work at, people are friendly, young, and very much a dynamic environment. you can learn a lot and develop in your career.”

“They still have a startup merit in their approach to problems. The CEO is great entrepreneur and you will learn alot if you work directly with him.”

 Quotes from 1 & 2 Star Reviews

“A very political environment that will prevent you from being creative at all.”

“It’s the least professional company I ever worked with, there aren’t clear laws for much, HR can determine your fate”“No proper time for lunch break. They will make sign documents saying your not performing well in order for them not to pay 3-months if ever they’ll terminate u. They’ll terminating employee every week. Giving warning every other day. NO matter how long you’re working in the company.”

“The company is managed by investors, they’re only thinking about exiting with an IPO in a couple of years, so they dont care about building anything sustainable.”

“Bad career development, unorganized team structures, double employee’s work for unclear vision, no overtime pay & a lot of overtime work.”

“Every aspect of management is absent, the management itself keep on saying for over 3 years that “we will not hesitate when it comes to firing people”!! how that will affect the employees loyalty.”

“They (the upper management) spent tens of thousands on their trip to Lebanon to set some sort of a management camp so they can have a meeting to discuss the cost reduction plan.”

“The HR department is one of the worst i’ve ever seen. Not professional at all, and not taking the employees’ sides. They keep promising without delivering, and if you feel wronged they’ll never help you.”

Fetchr

Overall Rating: 3.6 out of 5
UAE Rating: 3.4 out of 5

Fetchr is one of the most promising startups to come out from the region. Founded by Idriss Al Rifai & Joy Ajlouny in 2012, the Dubai-based startup has already expanded into many other regional markets and continues to grow. It happens to be one of the best funded regional startup as well.

Fetchr has an overall rating of 3.6 out of 5 from 15 reviews it has received on Glassdoor. Only 68% of these reviewers suggest that they’re likely to recommend Fetchr to their friends. Their rating trends below suggest that employees are extremely dissatisfied with the work/life balance at the company.

3.1
2.7
3.1
2.8
3.7

Out of the 15 total reviews, 9 are from Fetchr’s employees in UAE with an overall rating of 3.4 out of 5 which is slightly lower than overall rating of 3.6 out of 5 from all Fetchr employees.

Employees have expressed great learning environment as one of the biggest pros of working at Fetchr and location of the company’s offices as a con.

Quotes from 4 & 5 Star Reviews“Idriss Al Rifai is a great mentor, with plenty to learn from.”

“Performance based culture with clear goals / objectives.”

“Joy and Omar are very motivational, they always motivate their employee.”

Great place to work when I started they promised me that I would grow with the company I worked really hard and spent many nights in the office until late but it paid of I was promoted. They said if I took ownership and worked hard it would pay off and it did.”

“The culture does not promote taking initiative. (specifically the 1 co-founder).”

“There are many people who don’t work hard and hold the company back. It makes it hard for the ones who do work hard to see them slacking off. They complain that they get reprimanded but the truth is they ruin for the rest of us who do work hard and want fetchr to succeed.”

 Quotes from 1 & 2 Star Reviews

“Being shouted at is the norm. Guys beware , the co-founder gets sadistic pleasure in humiliating employees.”


“Treat employees as slaves.”

“Cant sustain a month even if you are not favor to your managers.”

Namshi

Overall Rating: 3.3 out of 5 
UAE Rating: 3.3 out of 5

Namshi is known as a startup which has achieved great things and numbers without making much noise. They’ve quietly become leading fashion ecommerce retailer of the region and now have become a part of Alabbar’s business empire after he acquired 51% stake in the company.

With total of 13 reviews, Namshi’s overall rating on Glassdoor is 3.3 out of 5. Only 63% of its employee are likely to recommend the startup to a friend as an employer. The trends below reflect that employees at Namshi are not very happy about their compensation and benefits and the senior management.

3.3
.1
2.9
2.7
3.0

Apart from UAE, Namshi has offices in India as well. But the rating doesn’t really change as its UAE employees (only) also have rated it as 3.3 out of 5 in 7 reviews.

Discussing the pros and cons of working at Namshi, employees have mostly complained about the compensation and benefits and praised the working environment and culture.

Quotes from 4 & 5 Star Reviews

“Great Work Atmosphere,Facilities & you can learn a lot.

“The management knows how to appreciate the work of the people who deserves it, working is enjoyable and at the same time a learning experience.”

“Friendly and helpful colleagues, founders and managers.”

“Flexible working hours.”

“Flat structure.”

Quotes from 1 & 2 Star Reviews

“Racists higher management , discrimination based on ethnicity , rude staff , very unprofessional , long hours , cuts pay for even 10 mins delay , no leaves allowed even in case of emergency , staff has no knowledge of work and keeps delegating , senior staff mixed personal and professional life . The dress code of the company is a bit too casual , Hr has no knowledge of hr duties.”

“Salary is low , your salary can increase from 25%-50% on average if you move to “Any” other E-commerce , More than 20 of the best Employees moved to the competition already in 2016 alone., i don’t want to mention over time rates , it’s a joke.”

“There’s No Reward system , people who work harder are the same as people who are just getting by . they have something called rock star of the month you basically get colored certificate and couple of movie tickets that’s it , so you get excited after getting it for the first time only , if you get it again it’s like “OK” thanks ^^ .”

“There is this weird situation where some of the employees have Namshi visa ,and others have visa on outsource company , so you get this situation where you have colleague sitting next to you have better salary , policies etc.”

“They are very Cheap if anything not working properly like your chair , keyboard , mouse or your 3 years old Laptop breaks forget about replacement or getting things fixed properly , you are stuck with it.”

Having seen these reviews by employees of different tech startups in UAE, its obvious that most of these startups have a lot of room to improve. They could learn a thing or two from Bayt.com about how they’ve been able to build a great organization for their employees.

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Zubair Naeem Paracha

Founder at MENAbytes
A tech and startup enthusiast based in Lahore, Pakistan. Zubair apart from leading MENAbytes is also building Qraar, a career discovery and development platform for millennials in MENA. He can be reached on Linkedin, Twitter or zubair [at] menabytes [dot] com.
Zubair Naeem Paracha
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