How to Start a Business in Dubai

by Creating Change Mag
Why start a business in Dubai?

Starting a business in another country can be daunting for many entrepreneurs, especially those looking to do so in Dubai. 

After all, this bustling metropolis is home to high-end business and stark technologies, making it a hotbed of potential but equally intimidating.

However, learning how to start a business in Dubai can be manageable with the right guidance and insight. 

As an international entrepreneur and an individual who started their own business in Dubai at one point, I am uniquely qualified to provide advice on navigating the often tricky waters of launching a company in Dubai. 

I will teach you how to start a business in Dubai and help you understand how companies across the globe operate differently from country to country.

Let’s get started! 

Why Start a Business in Dubai?

You should consider starting a business setup in Dubai for several reasons.

The city of Dubai is incredibly business-friendly, offering entrepreneurs from all walks of life an array of resources to help them succeed.

In addition to this, it’s also one of the world’s most vibrant economies, with plenty of opportunities for international business owners.

What’s more, Dubai also offers a variety of benefits for entrepreneurs and business owners, such as generous tax incentives, access to world-class infrastructure, and a diverse range of skillsets available from the local workforce.

Next, we will examine a few of those advantages in more detail.

Dubai Tax Rate

One of the greatest benefits of doing business in Dubai is its incredibly low tax rate.

The United Arab Emirates has no corporate or capital gains taxes, meaning entrepreneurs can keep more profits and reinvest them into their companies.

Personal income taxes are also non-existent – allowing you to take home more money after all expenses have been paid.

This low tax rate makes Dubai an ideal environment for business owners, no matter what industry they are in.

Robust Economy

The economy in Dubai is incredibly robust, offering entrepreneurs plenty of opportunities to expand their businesses.

The region has a diverse selection of industries that motivated entrepreneurs can tap into.


  • Transportation and logistics companies
  • Luxury hotels and resorts
  • Technology and gaming companies
  • Manufacturing and engineering firms.

This strong economy also means plenty of potential for growth in Dubai, allowing business owners to take full advantage of their opportunities.

Dubai Start-up Funding

In addition to a strong economy, the city of Dubai also offers several options for entrepreneurs seeking funds for their start-ups. 

For example, various venture capital firms and angel investors operate in the region that can provide you with the capital needed to get your business off the ground.

There are also government-backed initiatives, such as: 

  • The Dubai Business Incubator: Helps entrepreneurs find financing, mentorship, and resources to launch their businesses in the city.
  • The Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development: Offers financial assistance and coaching for entrepreneurs in the UAE.

Finally, many private equity firms operating in Dubai can provide entrepreneurs with additional funding sources. 

Quality of Life

One of the significant advantages of living in Dubai is its stunningly high quality of life.

Why is the quality of life so high in Dubai?

  • The city is known for its very high standard of safety and security, with very few crimes taking place. This gives residents the assurance that they can live safely and securely.
  • Living in Dubai is also highly affordable, making it possible to live comfortably either alone or with family.
  • The law in Dubai is also stringent to ensure safety and order.
  • There are plenty of fun activities to enjoy as well! From incredible places to visit that you’ll remember forever to jaw-dropping sites to take pictures at – it’s no wonder so many people flock here every year. 

If you want to start a business in Dubai, know that the atmosphere offers unparalleled guidance and support, perfect for companies seeking growth and success!

Free Zone Vs. Offshore

If you’re looking to start a business in Dubai, the first decision you’ll need to make is whether a Free Zone or Offshore setup is best suited for your requirements.

Free Zones

If you want 100% company ownership, Dubai’s free zones are worth considering.

The government created the concept to attract foreign investment and businesses to the region. 

Free Zones provide many benefits – including: 

  • 100% ownership
  • No taxes (corporate or personal)
  • Full repatriation of profits
  • Low operational costs
  • Access to world-class infrastructure.

Over 30 free zones specialized around various industries provide licenses for companies within their relevant sector.


By registering as an offshore company in Dubai, you can operate outside of the UAE.

The advantages of offshore setup include:

  • Lower operational costs
  • No need to open a local office or hire staff
  • No reporting requirements or audits.

Offshore setups are great for those looking to start a business in Dubai that want to expand their operations beyond the country. 

There are also no minimum capital requirements for incorporating a free zone company, but you require a sponsor who will restrict your foreign ownership to 49%.

How Much Does it Cost to Start a Business in Dubai?

Starting a business in Dubai is an increasingly attractive prospect for entrepreneurs from across the globe – and the cost of company registration, surprisingly, isn’t as expensive as you might think. 

Costs vary depending on how complex your business is and how many shareholders you have, but typically it costs around AED 15,000 to AED 25,000 to register in one of Dubai’s free zones. 

Setting up an offshore company could cost as little as AED 12,500.

Is it Easy to Start a Business in Dubai?

If you’ve been considering how to start a business in Dubai, here’s some encouraging news: The process is comparatively straightforward! 

Specifically, most businesses can quickly and easily form in one of the UAE’s free zones. 

Is starting a business in Dubai easy?

With resources readily available to help you get up and running, this could be the perfect spot to set up shop and gain access to incredible growth prospects!

How to Start a Small Business in Dubai

Now that you understand the basics of getting your business up and running in Dubai, here are our top tips for setting up a small business there. 

Step 1: Pick an Industry

The first step to starting a business in Dubai is deciding what type of industry you want to enter.

Dubai has plenty of opportunities for business owners, so ensure you pick something that plays to your strengths and interests.

Whether it’s travel, retail, hospitality, or any other sector, research the local market and understand your chosen field’s competitiveness.

Step 2: Research Competitors

Once you’ve settled on an industry, it’s time to research your competitors. 

  • How are they different from one another?
  • How successful are they?
  • How do their offerings compare to yours?

Ensure you know the answers to these questions before moving forward with your business plan.

Step 3: Create a Business Plan

You’ll need a comprehensive business plan to gain approval for business in one of Dubai’s fee zones

This should include: 

  • Your purpose
  • Your goals
  • Your products/services
  • Your target market
  • Your financial projections

Understanding the legal landscape is crucial when setting up a business setup in Dubai.

Here are the different legal structures available for companies in Dubai:

  • Sole Proprietorship: A business owned and operated by one person. 
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): A separate legal entity where the owners (known as members) have limited liability for business debts. 
  • Partnership: A business owned by two or more people who share profits and losses. 
  • Branch Office: A foreign company can establish a branch office in Dubai to conduct business. 

Choosing the suitable business activity and legal structure depends on your company’s nature and long-term goals. 

Step 5: Choose a Location

Choosing a location is the next step to starting your business in Dubai.

With 30+ free zones available, it pays to select the one most suited to how you want to do business: like choosing a free zone close to your industry peers.

Step 6: Apply for a License

How to apply for a specific license can vary greatly depending on the type of business you are starting – whether it’s commercial, industrial, or professional.

  • Commercial: Apply for a trade license with the Department of Economic Development.
  • Industrial: Submit an application to the Ministry of Economy or a local free zone authority.
  • Professional: Apply for a professional services license from the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA).

Step 7: Open a Dubai Bank Account

One of the crucial steps you need to take when starting a business in Dubai is opening a corporate bank account. 

Luckily, there’s an abundance of institutions within the UAE for you to choose from!

Some of the most popular options include:

  • HSBC
  • Citibank
  • Barclays
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

You’ll have no shortage of options as you explore the banking landscape in Dubai.

Step 8: Apply for a Work Visa

A necessary step of working abroad is applying for a work visa. This will enable you to bring in any staff or employees you may require to run your business.

The process for obtaining a work visa can take time and requires several documents, such as: 

  •  A valid passport with visa entry
  • Valid medical insurance
  • An employment contract or offer letter

Be sure to start this process early!

Step 9: Launch a Dubai Website

Now that you’ve completed all the necessary paperwork, it’s time to launch a website and start promoting your business! 

A website is a great way to reach potential customers and establish your brand.

Once you have a domain name, you must design and develop your site, create content showcasing your company’s products and services, and start promoting it on social media. 

Step 10: Start Marketing Your Business

Business is only successful with proper marketing.

How to start a business in Dubai? By leveraging local media and digital tools, you can effectively reach potential customers and make your brand visible online and offline.

You can also partner with other businesses or organizations that can help promote your products/services, such as: 

  • Blogs and magazines
  • Social media influencers
  • Online advertising platforms

By taking these steps, you will surely get your business off the ground in no time! 

Identifying Human Rights Risks in Supply Chains

The legal landscape in Dubai focuses heavily on human rights, giving businesses guidelines on safeguarding their supply chains from human rights violations.

Carrying out human rights due diligence is a critical step in how to start a business in Dubai.

Identifying and addressing any potential adverse human rights impacts associated with the business begins with a four-step process: 

  • Assessing actual and potential human rights impacts
  • Integrating and acting on findings
  • Tracking responses
  • Communicating how you address impacts

Beyond audits, organizations can manage human rights risks in their supply chains by putting into practice six essential strategies, including the following: 

  • Mapping risks and identifying vulnerable groups
  • Engaging with workers and communities
  • Building capacity and raising awareness
  • Collaborating with other stakeholders
  • Aligning incentives and objectives 
  • Integrating human rights into decision-making.

By taking these steps and following the legal framework, you can ensure your business complies with human rights standards. 

Sustainability in Your Business Strategy

Dubai’s commitment to sustainability and human rights means businesses must incorporate these considerations into their strategies. 

Doing so can bring numerous benefits, such as 

  • Improved reputation
  • Increased competitiveness
  • And reduced risk.

Consumers and investors today expect companies to operate responsibly, and regulations often mandate an approach that offers better accountability.

Many successful companies, including Unilever, Patagonia, and Interface, understand the importance of sustainability to long-term success.

With innovative approaches such as:

  • Integrating sustainability into all business plans
  • Driving innovation and cost savings with sustainability
  • And building trust by engaging with stakeholders

These companies have seen a significant shift in their operations and bottom lines.


Going into business in Dubai is a complex and challenging process, but with the right approach, you can make it happen. 

By following the right procedures and executing an effective business plan, you can ensure that your business will be successful!

Now we’d like to hear from you; do you have any tips for starting a business in Dubai? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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