If you are considering starting a business overseas, Dubai is definitely a good market to consider. The city has exploded in the last decade, and it is growing exponentially every year. With the right product or service, you have the potential to make it big.
For those trying to start a business in Dubai, here’s how to go about it:
See also: How to Start a Business in Singapore
1. Choose Your Business Type
There are three types of businesses to choose from:
- Industrial, which includes manufacturing or any business that involves processing or packaging goods for sale.
- Professional, which means personal services like public relations or consulting.
- Commercial, which means trading in goods or services to the public, such as retail.
If you’re not certain which category your company falls under, the UAE government has provided a list to help you figure it out.
2. Determine the Legal Form
There are many legal forms for your business to take:
- Individual Establishment (Sole Proprietorship)
- Limited Liability Company
- Partnership Company
- Public Shareholding Company
- Private Shareholding Company (Private Joint Stock Co)
- Civil Company
- Simple Limited Partnership
- Branch of a Civil Company
- Branch of Foreign Company
Figure out which form your company is going to take before applying for the business license.
3. Find the Location
Mainland Dubai is one of the best places for commercial and professional businesses, thanks to its extensive highway system and the wide range of commercial locations in the downtown area. To operate on the Dubai mainland, you need to register with the Dubai Department of Economic Development.
If the mainland doesn’t appeal to you, you can also operate in the 20+ free zones around the city. Some of the free zones include:
- Media City
- Dubai Airport Free Zone
- Dubai International Financial Centre
- Jebel Ali Free Zone
Each free zone has its own licensing body, and you will need to apply to those licensing bodies directly in order to obtain your business license.
The good thing about working in Dubai is that you don’t need to pay business or personal taxes. This is the case both on the mainland AND in the free zones.
4. Establish Ownership Rights
Whether you are from the UAE, a member of the GCC or from anywhere else in the world, you can own and operate any of the three business types within Dubai. However, the legal form of your company will differ according to your nationality.
For example, nationals from other countries can only operate civil companies, LLCs or PJSCs. GCC nationals can also operate Simple Limited Partnership companies with UAE nationals, and UAE nationals can operate Partnership companies in addition to the four company types listed above.
Visit the Dubai government business page to find out what is needed to establish ownership rights to your company.
5. Register the Company
To register your company, you will need to:
- Reserve the company name/register with the Department of Economic Development (DED)
- Have the company’s Memorandum of Association notarized
- File the company’s documents with the DED
- Obtain the trade license/register with the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI)
- Apply at the Ministry of Labor to receive the establishment card
- Register any native workers (UAE residents) with the Ministry of Labor and the General Authority for Pension and Social Security
See also: How to Start a Business in the US
It’s a lot of work and it will take time, but once you have established your business in Dubai, you’ll find that it’s one of the best cities in the world to own and operate a company!
Got any advice on setting up a business in Dubai? Leave a comment below and share your experiences…