Dubai City

How Foreigners Can Start a Business in Dubai U.A.E 2024

Dubai has a reputation as a visionary city; a first-mover, shaping its own destiny. The spirit of its leaders’ possible and wise foresight has been hallmarks of the economic growth Dubai has made over the past decades.

And what was once a quiet city has quickly become a top destination for leisure and business tourism, becoming today’s record-breaking and innovative city-the crossroads of opportunities. And what was once a quiet city has quickly become a top destination for leisure and business tourism, becoming today’s record-breaking and innovative city-the crossroads of opportunities.

Dubai has emerged as a global hub for financial services, logistics, tourism, hospitality, and retail, and other sectors like healthcare, technology, and renewable energy are steadily growing. The city enjoys a strong international reputation as a vibrant, secure, and healthy destination, offering state-of-the-art amenities, first-class infrastructure and an array of headline-grabbing attractions and experiences, many unmatched by any other city in the world. As Dubai matures in its role as a global hub of knowledge, the city is cementing its position as a world-leading business event destination.

Certainly, Dubai has capitalized on its strategic geographic position as the gateway between East and West and has developed itself as a rapidly expanding global business center, home to over 50% of business events in the Middle East, including many of the world’s largest in its sectors.

Business women in Dubai

According to data from the Dubai World Trade Centre, the city ‘s leading conference venue and destination welcome 2,74 million tourists every year to Dubai, highlighting the importance of tourism effects on Dubai.

Those thinking of starting a business in Dubai have three main considerations to make. However Dubai highly welcomes foreign investment, so their restrictions are among the world’s most liberal.

  • Region Knowledge: You’ll need to have good regional knowledge. Be prepared to undertake extensive research into the business sector within which you are looking to operate. You need to have a viable business plan that includes a study of the market conditions, the competition, and the results of your forecasts. You must be prepared to find the necessary investment from your own resources or through your bank, and preferably by means other than applying locally, especially if you’re new to the region and have no track record. A realistic proposal could draw support from local authorities, probably government.
  • Local Partner: Businesses operating outside the many free zones of the UAE need a local business partner, who would have the majority stake in the company (51 percent) and can thus theoretically manage it. Local partners may be individuals or businesses, and they are not expected to make a financial contribution to the startup. There are various ways of remunerating a local partner.
  • Financial Viability: Once you have registered your business, the Department of Commerce will require owners to show proof of financial investment. If you’re new to the region and have no track record, you’ll need to be prepared to find your own financial resources through your bank or other means rather than relying on local assistance. Once you’ve established the validity of your concept, as well as financial viability from a marketability standpoint, you can now look at the steps to turn your idea into a booming business. UAE Commercial Companies Law and Federal Law describe seven specific company organizational categories that can be defined in Dubai and the UAE. The minimum capital level criteria, shareholders, and incorporation procedures may differ with the form of business structure.
Business in Dubai

You must be aware that the process is complex and financially risky, which means that local knowledge is crucial to starting your business. You also need to consult with a good lawyer right from the start. An accomplished lawyer will direct you through the complexities of registration and his support will be crucial to safeguarding your interests. That applies whether you open a small shop or a big business. There are official companies operating in the region, as is the case all over the world, but if anything goes wrong you will be in legal custody.

Don’t let those warnings put off you. It’s not all doom and gloom and many people in Dubai have developed successful, highly profitable businesses. The authorities are encouraging new operations and your local partner could be supportive. Export and manufacturing industries are particularly strongly supported by the government, especially in terms of acquiring land on which to construct a factory. If you set up such a business in a free trade area, exemptions are granted from import and export duties, commercial taxes, building and property licensing fees, land taxes, and capital transfer restrictions invested in the area.

Local Chambers of Commerce can advise on start-ups and are able to find profitable newcomers in the region. Winning a Chamber of Commerce trust and support will help.

Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, PO Box 1457, UAE/Tel. 971-4-221 181/Federation of UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, PO Box 8886, Dubai, UAE Tel. 971-4-212 977.

In Dubai, corporate law is similar to that in western countries, where companies can be run as limited liability operations, private companies, or other types of business. As discussed, setting up a business or buying a business that is going on can be complex and you need to get local legal advice and guidance on formalities for registration. As a foreigner, you are likely to use a law firm for Western / Arab joint ventures. Seek advice from the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce, the DTI, the Middle East Association, and the commercial sections of your Embassy when you choose.

Western expatriates are usually well-qualified – if they aren’t, they don’t find jobs – and such credentials are carefully reviewed with the awarding bodies, regardless of where they were acquired. Therefore, Western expatriates tend to occupy senior positions, with salaries and benefits commensurate. Workers from South-East Asia and the Indian subcontinent are typically working in menial, unskilled or semi-skilled employment and are paid as such.

Business in Dubai

A good sponsor or employer is a great tool. However, officials are usually supportive and don’t seem to be hard unless they have good cause. If you are polite and patient you will find your working life easier in the region. Smile and seek ‘advice’: seeking advice gives respect to the requested person and you will find that the Arabs are generally friendly and helpful. Note that recruiting foreign staff is a costly exercise for employers including recruitment consultant fees, legal and travel expenses. As a result, few employers put their investment at risk by badly treating employees and for many years the vast majority of expatriates have prospered in Dubai.

Credit by- Lavanya Singh

Lavanya Singh
Lavanya Singh

About the author: animesh