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6 Basics To Start A Business In Dubai

From a poor fishing spot 40 years ago, Dubai has grown into a modern city with towering skyscrapers, sprawling malls and world-class leisure & entertainment. It is the tourist and business hub of the Middle East. Look at a picture of Dubai 10 years ago and look at one taken recently, you would find the landscape changed completely. Initially built on revenues from the oil industry, Dubai’s economy has shifted base to tourism, real estate, construction, diamonds, gold, industry & manufacturing. If you are looking to start or expand your business in this flourishing landscape, here are some basics for you.

  1. Location: For Setting Up Business Dubai have two choices for location broadly – free trade zone or mainland.
  2. Ownership
    • Free trade zones are specifically allotted areas in Dubai which provide 100% foreign ownership to the investors and a single window administration for all the related formalities.
    • If you want to start a company in mainland of Dubai, you can only have 49% ownership and would have to partner with a UAE national.
  3. Operations
    • Companies in free trade zone cannot sell their products or services within the city without a local distributor or agent to handle the transactions. They can, however, do business outside of Dubai with 100% import and export tax exemptions, no corporate or personal taxes and 100% repatriation of capital and profits. The procedures for licenses are easy too.
    • Companies in mainland Dubai can have full access to the market of Dubai, set up stores and conduct business. They have the flexibility to do business anywhere in UAE with no limit on the number of visas. There are no business or personal taxes. There are also more business activities available for licensing.
  4. Type of Business
    • In free trade zones, you can set up business in the fields of financial, educational, retail, hospitality and media.
    • If you are looking to set up industrial or commercial type sole proprietorship, home-based businesses, SME license in Dubai, simple commanding companies or joint liability companies, only a UAE national can do so in Dubai. You can partner with UAE nationals for LLC companies, public joint stock companies, private joint stock companies or civil company with engineering activities.
  5. Timelines: The timelines for the process also varies based on the location. For each free trade zone, the length of the process varies as per the requirements and procedures. For mainland business, the duration depends on finding the right business partner and diligence in completing the required formalities. You can look forward to roughly 4-7 weeks of a time window for the entire formation process.
  6. Business License: To run a business, you will have to get a license paying the appropriate fee and completing the mandatory formalities. The license can be of 3 types
    • Professional License: You need to procure this license if you like to offer like your expertise such as crafts, arts or any professional service to the public.
    • Industrial License: If you are going to engage in manufacturing or any industrial activities, this is the license to be procured.
    • Commercial License: This is the license for supplying consumer goods like canned products and other dry goods, basically all things related to trade.

Dubai is a very liberal and open city with people from various religion living in harmony. People are very social and tolerant. The quality of living is high with excellent infrastructure and efficient policies & systems in place. It can be your thriving business hub too. Do call us for any guidance to establish your business here.

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