How to set up a business in Dubai

How to set up a business in Dubai? And How to set up a business in UAE?

Even though the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is storing their interest in the World to build as another commercial hub in the Middle East, even Qatar could achieve more than it anticipated by FIFA World Cup 2022, Dubai and UAE are still great well established options for open up your businesses to enter World Trades.

Why do you need to open up a business in Dubai?

Dubai is the most happening city outside of US soil. If you have access to Dubai, it means you are trading Worldwide. Let me list down a few factors may you need to carefully consider that motivate you to open up a business in Dubai.

  1. Dubai is the major transportation hub between Asia, Africa and Europe.
  2. Emirates is one of the most or the most connected airlines in the World that uses Dubai as the major hub.
  3. Since 1997, the dirham (Dubai currency) has been pegged to the US dollar at the rate of 1 USD = 3.6725 AED.
  4. Dubai is a financial hub.
  5. Tax benefits in Dubai are unbeatable. 9% low corporate tax or No tax in Freezones (April 2023 update)
  6. Dubai is located in a strategic place geographically
  7. Dubai has world-class infrastructure that you would never find anywhere else.
  8. UAE policies are business-friendly government policies
  9. Dubai’s multicultural workforce consists of individuals from 199 different nationalities
  10. Thriving tourism and technological innovations are facilitating any kind of requirement that you can think of.

My story of getting here

12 months ago now (April 2023), I knew nothing about setting up a business in Dubai. But in late 2021 one of my friends and the consultant for Ask Lanka Media Network (my company) went to Dubai and settled there. So with my knowledge of analysing and data processing, I helped him to become a master of setting up businesses in Dubai. So he could learn everything from scratch.

Setting up a business in Dubai is very complicated to explain. In some cases, it is very straightforward forward and sometimes it is very hard. It is very easy and straightforward if you have one of the following conditions.

  1. You can afford a dedicated Dubai-based business consultant and have a straightforward plan.
  2. You have an unlimited budget or/and you are happy to spend whatever is necessary for your need.

In most cases, investors or business owners are not with the above conditions which is absolutely a waste of money. In addition to these business expenses, there are some temporary costs to be borne until you successfully register your business in Dubai.

  1. The visa cost for your team
  2. Hotel and Transportation costs for your team
  3. Communication and notary costs.

What are the factors that decide your cost of setting up a business in Dubai?

There are lots of factors that affect when you try to set up your business in Dubai. It is very important to know these facts before you proceed and get your bills. And you need to understand the pros and cons of your decision.

Location and features

In UAE (which people usually refer to as Dubai which is happened to be one state of 7 emirates in UAE) there are a few locations called Freezones and Mainlands. Freezones are designated areas near ports and industrial areas to open up businesses. Business licence prices and other infrastructure prices vary from location to location. Certain business categories, activities and access to some areas to operate a business may vary depending on the location.

Category or allowed activities in business

In Dubai and UAE, allowed business activities are linked with business registration. So, you will be presented with a few activities and sub-categories and you need to select how many activities and what activities you are going to implement in Dubai. Some activities may be required to select specific locations as well. So it is always recommended to plan well before proceeding with your licence to save time, money and investment.

Number of Investor Visas

The number of investor visa is always depending on the number of business partners that come together to do business in the UAE. If you are a sole business owner, you and your immediate family are covered by your Visa. If you have partners, you need to take separate Visas and you need to mention that before processing the application. Investor visa terms also vary and you need to decide the category that you go for depending on the term. UAE (Dubai) Investor Visa is a privilege and you will enjoy lots of benefits other than being the proud owner of Dubai-based businesses. We will write an article later called “What are the benefits of Dubai Investor Visa?”

Number of Employee Visas

Employee visas and visa quota that includes the business licence are also major factors to consider. An employment visa is one of the most expensive things that you need to invest in when you open up a business in the UAE. You need to pay for Visa and the visa quota as well. So be mindful when you decide on the Visa quota that fits with your immediate future plan.

Office Space

According to my friend, this is one of the tricky situations that most business owners couldn’t manage. It is where the office space can be reserved for their business. It is very important to have a proper office space to set up the business that can satisfy the legal requirements. Real estate in Dubai is expensive and demanding. So you need the right guidance to avoid losses and allocate investment in the right places. This is one of the major reasons to have a private consultant that have insight and understanding of Dubai and the UAE.

Bank Account

Getting a bank account in UAE is a serious matter. As they comply with anti-money laundering international standards and Dubai is one of the major targets of financial scandals, they have very strict laws and regulations over bank accounts. So, you need to be mindful to take the right decisions over your bank account to get it smoothly.

Go with corporate or hire an individual

Both ways are correct. You can choose a corporate consultant agency that works in the field after your own research and hand over your entire operations to them from your arrivals, and hotels to set up a business. In most cases, you will spend more and pay a premium to have that corporate care. But you are nearly 100% safe with professional corporate care. Con is the price point and the Pro is the care of a high-standard and trusted corporation.

The second way is hiring an individual like my friend. Those people will always work for your interest. Will reduce the cost, will bargain for you, and will find the best solutions for you. You will pay them, yet they will save thousands of dollars. They will always look at multiple options including your business setting up a broker/consultation agency to get the best price. Con is you may end up with a bad guy or girl as there is no assurance that you gonna get the best one. The Pro is you will save tons of money and you will always have someone locally that works for your best interest.

So it is recommended to hire an individual consultant to handle your all work in Dubai instead of relying on a corporate consultation agency directly which is always expensive. As my friend always consults people not just to set up business in Dubai but also for following things, I believe the investment that people put in him would bring great returns.

  1. The best budget for the business setup process with a consultation as to what to include and exclude.
  2. Best overall budgeting for the entire operation.
  3. Feasibility study on your business in Dubai.
  4. Marketing plan for reaching the right market.
  5. Business development ideas to the entire GCC.

Disclaimer: or Ask Lanka Media Network or their subsidiaries or members will not provide any services to set up businesses in Dubai or UAE or any other country. Whoever is interested to contact a known private consultant of ours will be linked to work with him at your own risk. Contact us for details.

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