Points to consider before you set up a business in Dubai

Investors across the world are flocking the Middle East’s commercial hub to set up a business in Dubai. Why? There are plenty of reasons the Emirate lures entrepreneurs from all walks of life. To name a few, Dubai is strategically located to provide seamless global connectivity; it is the world’s second safest city; is one of the most tax-friendly places for businesses; allows expats to have 100% business ownership; the city is brimming with latest innovations in terms of modern technology; and, the quality of life is highly preferable. Moreover, the government’s swift management of the pandemic helped the country open up with all safety measures in place and welcome travellers fairly soon.  

Business opportunities in Dubai 

The Department of Economic Development (DED), the authority which oversees all economic activities, issues trade licenses for around 2,300 business activities. These range from industrial productions to grocery stores, and sports coaching. Given the fact that majority of the UAE’s population is made up by expats from all over the world, there is huge potential of all types of businesses alike. 

For traders, one of the main reasons to set up a business in Dubai is the close proximity to suppliers in the Middle Eastern, African and Asian regions. The city is also supportive to ecopreneurs with massive sustainability projects like ‘Dubai 2040’ underway. Moreover, there is always room for F&B businesses catering to residents of specific nations. The ongoing Expo 2020 also provides a highly fertile ground for entrepreneurs to network, promote and grow. 

Preferable business locations 

You have the option to set up shop either on mainland or in one of the many free zones in Dubai. Moreover, it is also possible of have an offshore business. Listed below are some key highlights and the differences between the mainland and free zone jurisdictions. 

  • Mainland – All businesses registered on Dubai mainland can freely trade all across the country as well as internationally. Here, the business registration process is highly organised, allowing you to obtain your trade license in less than a day.  
  • Free zone – Free trade zones provide you with the ease of registering your company without having to travel to the UAE. There are more than 45 free zones catering to specific types of businesses, you have plenty of options to consider. For instance, Dubai Healthcare City houses prominent wellbeing facilities and Dubai Media City is a hub of popular media houses. Similarly, Dubai International Financial Centre is the city’s own Wall Street and Jebel Ali Free Zone is one of the world’s busiest ports. However, it is crucial to note that the rules and regulations for business operation and timeline for registration formalities, may vary from one free zone to another as they are governed by their own authorities. 

Types of trade licenses 

All trade licenses in Dubai are issued by the DED. The business activities fall under four main categories: 

  • Professional license 

Any business offering professional services require professional license to operate. 

  • Commercial license 

All companies involved in trading of goods and products need to obtain commercial license. 

  • Industrial license 

Activities that involved production and manufacturing of goods and products are done with industrial licenses. 

  • Tourism license 

If your business activity falls in the tourism sector, it will also need to be reviewed by the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), before your license is issued. 

Company structure 

The shareholding structure of your company depends on other variants including the nature of your business, partnership, purpose of your business, and operational aspects. However, there are two popular corporate structures Dubai businesses follow: 

Limited Liability Company 

Forming an LLC in Dubai requires at least two shareholders and can have up to 50 shareholders. This business management structure limits the personal liability of company owners just like in corporations. This type of structure is well-suited for traders involved in import and export.  

Furthermore, commercial companies intending to hire a large number of staff members also benefit by choosing an LLC structure. 

Sole Establishment 

Sole establishments are best suited to those with a professional trade license such as educational consultancies and providers of IT solutions. As the name suggests, these companies are fully-owned and operated by one individual. 

Ready to set up a business in Dubai? Assistance is a click away 

Be it documentation or liaising with various government authorities, you can rely on the team of company formation experts at Shuraa Business Setup to set up a business in Dubai. With 20 years of expertise in providing corporate services to international entrepreneurs, Shuraa’s team in London will help you understand all about the judicial framework in the UAE and assist you every step of the way. 

To book a free consultation, call Shuraa London on +44 7538 205604 or 02081065084 today.