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What You Need to Know When Starting a Business in Dubai

What You Need to Know When Starting a Business in Dubai

Dubai is currently considered to be one of the world’s major business hubs and it is still on a path of rapid growth and expansion. Reasons behind this are low barriers to entry, government support, taxation laws that are made to attract investors, and a large available workforce. While this may sound too good to be true, keep in mind that these opportunities are available only to those who know what they’re doing. With that in mind and without further ado, here are several things that you need to know about starting a business in Dubai.

Make Sure the Activity Is Not Forbidden by Law

Before migrating your business to Dubai or opening a franchise there, you need to understand that there are certain things that are illegal in the UAE, which are completely fine in your home country. For instance, electronic cigarettes, which are a growing industry throughout the world, are illegal in Dubai, which means that starting a retail specialized in this product is definitely not a good idea. Also, while it is possible for non-Muslim residents to get a license that allows them to drink at home, that imposes some limits on your business opportunities. Also, before you start, your business activity will have to be approved.

UAE National as a Partner Could Make a World of Difference

The next thing you ought to keep in mind is the fact that you probably shouldn’t start a business in Dubai without a trusted UAE national as a partner. In fact, having a UAE national partner that holds 51 percent of shares in your business is the only way for you to start a business in the Dubai mainland zone. This is a matter of legal jurisdictions, which is something that we will shortly discuss. Because this person will become the majority owner of the company, it’s of the utmost importance that you find someone you trust completely, which is far from an easy task.

Picking the Right Jurisdiction Is Crucial

Now, we come to one of the most important rules regarding your ability to start a business in Dubai. For this, in-depth knowledge of the Dubai legal and regulatory system is needed. We’re talking about finding a jurisdiction that is firstly, available and secondarily, meets the needs of your business. First of all, it’s important that we discuss the fact that there are three main zones. We’re talking about mainland business setups, free zone company formations, and offshore business establishments. Depending on your location, the productivity of your business may be determined.

Finding Specialized Aid Can Save You a Fortune

In the age of hyper-connectivity, there’s really no reason for you to handle this issue on your own. You see, there is a number of agencies specializing in company setup in Dubai and all you have to do is find the right one for you. Due to the nature of their work, they can provide you with a holistic and all-enveloping set of services, which may help you out immensely. Most importantly, you get the experience on your side, which is something you will lack as a first-time entrepreneur (at least the one penetrating the UAE market for the first time).

An Adequate Shareholding Structure Can Decide Your Future

This last piece of advice is, more or less universal, regardless of the location of the business, and it’s the importance of choosing the right shareholding structure for your company. As we already stated, chances are that you’ll have to start a partnership (in order to be granted access to the mainland Dubai), but in some other areas, even a sole proprietorship may be an option. Then, there’s the chance for you to start an LLC (limited liability company), shared partnership, public shareholding company, private shareholding or a joint venture. All of these choices affect the way in which your company will perform in the future and it might also affect the decision-making process behind it.


In the end, if you do manage to get through all of these necessary steps, you’ll most likely find that starting a business in Dubai is more than worth it. Do your research, find reliable partners and study the local commerce laws to the letter. Sure, this is much easier than it sounds but running a successful enterprise was never supposed to be simple in the first place.

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by Carolin Petterson // Carolin Petterson is a businesswoman and content marketer with years of experience under her belt. She has had the opportunity to contribute to a number of popular business and marketing websites.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.