How to Start a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner?

How to Start a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner?

It is wise to start a business in Dubai, which is renowned as a global economic powerhouse. The city has excellent infrastructure, a thriving economy, and no taxes. However, these are only a few reasons business owners prefer to establish themselves in Dubai. Even with some restrictions for international investors, starting a business is relatively simple.

Furthermore, the Institute of International Finance in the UAE has become a desirable destination for foreign capital inflows as its economy recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the most recent estimates and forecasts from the IIF, the UAE attracted $46.4 billion in foreign capital inflows in 2021, with foreign direct investment (FDI) accounting for nearly half of that amount at $21.8 billion, ahead of Saudi Arabia’s at $19.5 billion. Immigrants and expatriates account for 88.52% of the population. 

So if you want to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner, the time is now! 

Things to Know Before Starting a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner

Before we get into how to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner, it’s essential to understand how the emirate works.

As the Middle East’s economic centre, Dubai has grown in stature on the global stage. Because of its advantageous geographical location, it is simple to connect with suppliers in Africa, Asia, and the Gulf. Furthermore, foreign nationals make up 90% of the city’s population.

As a result, as a foreigner, starting a business in Dubai allows you to live in such a prosperous location. Dubai’s superior infrastructure, safe living conditions, tax-friendly legislation, and visionary leadership that encourages technology and innovation contribute to a business-friendly environment.


In Dubai, you can start a business on the mainland or in one of the several free zones. 

Mainland — doing business in Dubai On the Mainland, you can trade domestically and internationally. The formation of a company is a very organised process. A business license can be obtained in a single day as well.

Free zonesStarting a business in a free zone is very inexpensive and advantageous for new businesses. Some of the most well-known free zones in Dubai are Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), Dubai Media City, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Dubai Healthcare City (DHC), and others. However, because each free zone is administered by its authority, the rules and regulations for enterprises and the timeframe for business formation formalities may differ from one free zone to the next.

What Documents Do You Require to Register a Company in UAE?

Depending on the activity, you may be required to submit several documents to open a business in Dubai. Regardless of your line of work, you must provide a few documents. The following are some of the mandatory documents you must have:

  1. A copy of your passport
  2. Passport-size photographs
  3. A copy of your entry visa

Depending on your company’s chosen activity, organisational structure, and location, more documents will be required. Our business setup professionals can provide you with a comprehensive document list.

What Is the Procedure to Start a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner?

Starting a business in Dubai is simple if you know the government’s rules and regulations. To make things easier for you, we’ve included the following procedures for foreigners looking to start a business in Dubai:

1. Determine Your Activity and Company Structure 

The type of company you want to start as a foreigner in Dubai is one of the most important decisions you must make. The activity you choose will determine the structure of your company. You can form a sole proprietorship, allowing you to run your business as the sole owner. You can also create a limited liability company (LLC), which will give you a distinct legal structure and is Dubai’s most common business structure.

2. Decide on a Trading Name

The reservation of a trading name is a requirement for corporation registration. Your business must be evident from the name of your company. Shuraa’s legal professionals can help you choose a name that isn’t already registered, doesn’t offend anyone, fits with your company’s operations, and complies with all the naming rules.

3. Get Pre-Approvals

Companies established in any territory are subject to the authorities’ regulations in that region. You will have to seek approval from the department to apply for the license, especially if the activity is highly regulated. This indicates that the authority is okay with you setting up your company.

4. Obtain Your License

To start a business in Dubai as a foreigner, you must first obtain a license. The trade license can be obtained directly from the relevant free zone authorities if you have a mainland establishment. There are four primary categories of business licenses in Dubai:

5. Setup and Registration of the Organisation

After completing the steps above, you can begin conducting operational operations in the UAE. To register, one must obtain all necessary paperwork. Your company in Dubai becomes a legal entity only after it is registered.

6. Obtain a Business Visa

A business visa allows for more effortless movement in and out of the country. People who want to start a business as an expat in Dubai can apply for a long-term visa for themselves and their dependents. Furthermore, anyone wishing to relocate to the UAE to establish a business may apply for a business visa.

What Is the Cost of Starting a Business in Dubai?

Dubai’s appeal to businesspeople worldwide is also due to its relatively low operating expenses. Despite the fact that there are numerous factors to consider, you should budget between AED 10,000 and AED 30,000. This, however, is only a rough estimate. The cost of forming a company in Dubai varies depending on a variety of factors, such as where you choose to locate, whether you lease space, how many employees you have, and so on.

What Are the Opportunities for Foreign Entrepreneurs in Dubai?

Smart foreign businesspeople who understand business economics jump at the opportunity to establish a company in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Given the advancements and future of Dubai, now is an excellent time for international investors to develop a business in Dubai.

If you have a business idea, pitch it to a potential investor, and they will help you make it a reality. However, this advice can be helpful if you are unsure of any potential business opportunities. Here are a few foreign business opportunities in Dubai that you should be aware of:

1. Recruitment Agency 

Companies in the UAE are always looking for skilled workers. However, they cannot make significant employment decisions due to rising demand and competition. Consequently, these businesses use recruitment agencies to fill their hiring needs.

2. Cafe/Restaurant

If you want to start your own business but don’t have millions of dollars to invest, you could consider opening a small cafe or restaurant. Even on a shoestring budget, you can open a small coffee shop. Furthermore, the growing food sector makes this venture profitable.

3. Tourism and Travel

Establish a company that assists travellers with everything from vacation itinerary planning to booking flights, lodging, sightseeing, cab service, and so on. The company could focus on regional tourism, expand to include the GCC countries, or do both. 

Start Your Business With Shuraa

Do you still have questions about how foreigners can start a business in Dubai? Consult the Shuraa UK branch experts on establishing a company in the UAE. Our knowledgeable legal corporate consultants will help you navigate your options and make the process easier, in addition to assisting you in determining the best business form and selecting an appropriate jurisdiction. Get in touch with us now!


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