Starting up a business or expanding into Dubai – Ten Tips for Entrepreneurs

If you’re thinking of starting up a business in Dubai, or expanding into the Emirate, then you’ve made a good choice. Dubai is a great place to do business. It’s well positioned globally, and the laws and regulations ensure that you are able to go about your business without being overly troubled.

But there are things you have to know before setting up. Here’s our quick guide to setting up your business in Dubai.
  1. You will need a local partner, and that local partner must hold the majority interest in the business. The partner can be either a business or an individual, and does not have to contribute financially.
  2. You will need money in the bank. This is to prove to the Ministry of Commerce that you have money to invest in the country and that you are a credible business.
  3. You should understand the region and the market conditions before coming to Dubai. Don’t believe that just because a lot of rich people live in Dubai, they’re all going to buy your products or services. Develop a business case.
  4. Consider the free zones. You don’t need a local partner in a free zone, and you can repatriate 100% of the profits. Many free zones are industry-specific and will provide the infrastructure your business requires. Some even allow you to export and import without customs duties.
  5. Consider rental prices. Free Zones can be more expensive than office blocks in the city, for a good reason. Shop around.
  6. Learn to negotiate. If you are doing business with Arabs, you will find them brilliant negotiators – some say they are the best in the world. You’ll need to bring your A game.
  7. Check your visa – are you allowed to work? It’s a simple thing, but you have to ensure that you have an employment visa and that when you employ people, they have the right kind of visa. If you need a sponsor, and you have a local partner, then your local partner can be your sponsor.
  8. If you are setting up in Dubai, contact the Dubai Chambers of Commerce. They might be able to help you set up, if they believe that your project has the potential to generate profit.
  9. Don’t enter a Free Zone without looking at the preconditions. Certain free zones have different demands on businesses, and some might only have small office space available. Availability changes frequently, so keep your options open.
  10. Stay positive! A smile goes a long way, and the Emirate is extremely keen to attract investment and entrepreneurs, so they will help you if you ask for it.

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