Moving to Dubai to Start a Business


Dubai is world-renowned for its premium economy and plentiful job opportunities for the adventurous. Many fledgling professional leaders have taken a shot at this first world market to advance their careers, take a promotion or simply let their creativity fly. These leaps of faith have often paid off, with expats returning home with more impressive job credentials to add to their CVs, so they can shop around for better jobs or even launch a company themselves. If you’re thinking of moving to Dubai to start a business but don’t know where to start, there a plenty of things you need to learn before you make the move.

Dubai’s economy is booming, which is why it is a primary target of entrepreneurs keen to start a company in the United Arab Emirates. However, before you gamble any of your hard-earned funds on a business venture, you must familiarise yourself with the essentials of how to build a successful business.

The type of business you want to establish will decide which type of licence you must apply for. The Department of Economic Development (DED) presents more than 2100 business activities for your selection. Typically in Dubai, businesses such as e-commerce, bookkeeping, advertising, education, apparel, real estate, recruitment, facilities and maintenance, and transportation are expanding in the local marketplace. These enterprises require minimal capital with a strong ROI. Food and beverage, jewellery trading, consultancy, and veterinary activities are also flourishing, but keep in mind that these industries require additional approvals from other government departments.

Getting Started

Finding a sponsor. Before diving in headfirst, make sure you have engaged a prospect sponsor or a service agent. Your sponsor should be a UAE citizen or any UAE-owned company that is ready to take charge of bringing you over to Dubai as an investor, tourist or employee. To take advantage of trade in Dubai, you must have a locally registered LLC (Limited Liability Company) business. This is the most common form of business and can be formed with anywhere between 2 to 50 shareholders whose liability remains with the shares in the business capital.

These sponsors are not required to finance your business, but you need to invest 51% of your business capital under their name. Usually, sponsors do not take dividends from your monthly profit but you will need to pay them with an annual fee or revenue percentage as per your negotiation.
If you wish to take 100% ownership of your company, situate your business in one of the free zones in Dubai, such as the Airport and Healthcare City. If you are in one of the 30+ free zones, the zone acts as your sponsor.

Know your visa eligibility and its requirement

To begin with, you need to work with your sponsor to acquire the correct visas to run a startup business in the UAE. Visas are required for both you and your employees. The number of visas depends on certain criteria, such as your office size, the nature of your business, and the category of the investor.

Your Business Location

When moving to Dubai to start a business, choosing a strategic location to set up your organisation is crucial. Plan to locate in an area in which your target market can access you as easily as possible. If you’re considering setting up your business in a free zone, consider the distance from your customer base, the suitability of your industry to the location and the costs involved.

Hiring a Registration Agent

Seeking the help of a Registration Agent is essential. Registration agents can walk you through everything you need to know about starting a business and help you negotiate the hurdles. Your agent can also handle legal matters on your behalf, such as the registration of your company, opening a company bank account, and arranging an auditor.

As a precaution, we highly recommend you do research extensively the prospect of investing in trade in Dubai. Don’t choose your licence category blindly nor open an account without understanding all the charges, terms and conditions, and do not proceed with an agreement with a local sponsor without any legal agreements in place.

Moving to Dubai to start a business can be complex, yet exciting. Once your business plans are in place, make sure you contact the best Dubai removalists to ensure your belongings are transported internationally with ease. Allied offers free estimates to move to Dubai.