How to start a business in Dubai?

A question as old as Dubai itself, and an answer that changes almost as often as the road in Dubai!

Having set up more than five hundred companies in the country, ACT can tell you one thing, that there is no right answer to the question “How to start a business in Dubai?”.

The simplest way to explain the procedure is to say that it differs on the basis of service offered, location of the business and various other factors. This is majorly why you will not find a defined template or checklist for company formation on our Company Page.

If you’ve got an idea or business plan that you are ready to bring to life, it is essential that you have a clear understanding of the below.

Understanding the city of Dubai

UAE is a melting pot of cultures and each of these cultures has had a massive influence on the business style and procedures within the government. At 47 years, the country still is young and is on a constant quest to better its public services and processes.

The progressive thinking of the government has developed the country at a rapid pace and it is essential to keep up to date with these changes, a better understanding of the city will not only assist you in setting up but also help you once your business is up and running.

Researching the procedure of set up

The UAE offers aspiring businesses the choice to set up under different legal forms. Every set up has its own set of requirements, for instance, a limited liability company (LLC) with a foreign investor may only be set up in partnership with a local sponsor who on paper owns 51% of the business. For people unfamiliar with the government procedures of Dubai, it may seem like a high risk and unfavourable setup. However, this model of business has worked successfully for years. To safeguard your interests it is essential that you go into business with a trustworthy partner and seek the advice of a consultant who can overlook the contractual agreements.

The emergence of various free zones has also allowed foreign investors to set up business in Dubai with 100% ownership. However, these businesses may only operate within the free zone boundaries and generally limited to performing activities as listed on their licenses.

There is a wealth of information available on how to set up businesses, with complete lists but only when you go through the process yourself do you realize that you missed an integral step. A complete understanding of the rules is essential and for this reason, hiring a consultant that can educate and assist you in the setup, will save you time and allow you to work on other aspects of your setup.