Dubai’s business environment is famous the world the world over. As well as an incredibly attractive tax regime – zero percent on both personal and corporate incomes – the emirate sits in the perfect global location from which to trade with Europe, Asia, North Africa and beyond.
Dubai is also known to be a welcoming environment for entrepreneurs – with numerous incentives and incubator schemes available to help startups thrive and grow. The emirate also regularly ranks within the top ten in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.
Of course such an environment is home to a wealth of great opportunities, in everything from trading to tourism.
So, if you’re looking to start new business in Dubai, here are 10 potential business ideas for your consideration.
The UAE has more food and beverage outlets per capita than anywhere else in the world. But don’t let that put you off.
The Emirates, and Dubai in particular, has an insatiable appetite for eating out. Around a third of residents eat out on average at least two to three times per week. What’s more, 17 percent eat out or order takeaway every single day.
This is one of the low investment ideas on this list. You don’t need a huge initial outlay to sate the appetite of Dubai’s army of diners – you could open a food truck, market stall or cafeteria.
2. Events company
Dubai is a global events hub. In total, the emirate’s events industry is estimated to be worth more than AED 165m (USD 45m). This is only set to grow with Expo 2020 on the horizon – the largest event of its kind to be held in the Middle East.
There is plenty of scope for business ideas within the events industry, from large corporate exhibitions and trade shows to private events such as weddings and parties.
While construction may be an industry that requires a little more starting capital, the potential return can be enormous.
In early 2017, Dubai was home to over 3,200 active projects, worth an estimated USD 245bn. This figure has likely increased since in the run up to Expo 2020 – an event that has contributed some USD 42.5bn in construction projects.
4. Health and wellbeing
Dubai’s population is incredibly health conscious. So much so that the emirate contributes hugely to a UAE health and wellness market worth almost USD 3bn – the largest in the Middle East.
There is plenty of opportunity here for both healthcare and non-healthcare-professional. The health and wellbeing market is home to numerous subsectors. You could be a personal trainer, masseuse, or holistic therapist, or organise wellness programmes or trade in vitamins and supplements.
The inhabitants of a thriving city need to get from A to B – and many want to get there in style. That’s what lends this particular business idea so much scope. You could operate a bike taxi service, right up to limousine hire and chauffeur services.
Be sure to do your research first to get to know both the local area and the needs of its inhabitants. The demand for executive cars will be far higher in some areas of the emirate than others, for example.
6. Freight and cargo
Dubai is incredibly well-connected by sea, land and air, making it the perfect location from which to operate a freight or cargo business.
Essentially, this business entails assisting manufacturers or traders with shipping their goods overseas. Setting up near the busy Jebel Ali port will certainly make your business attractive to the numerous Dubai businesses that ship products overseas every day.
7. Real estate
Dubai’s real estate industry is famed for its impressive returns. After a relatively slow period, some areas in Dubai are returning yields of more than six percent — that’s higher than many major cities including London, Singapore and Hong Kong.
There are other opportunities here too, outside of investment. The introduction of long-term visas, along with the relaxing of foreign ownership rules is likely to increase the number of expatriates in Dubai, which in turn increases the demand for property management services.
8. Web development
Here we have one of the more lucrative online business ideas in Dubai. Thousands of new businesses launch here every year – and they all need websites.
If you already have the requisite skills then all you require is a laptop and an internet connection. If you are new to the craft, training courses are plentiful and affordable.
9. Cleaning services
While it may not sound glamorous, cleaning is big business in Dubai. Not only is the emirate full of office buildings that require cleaning at the end of the working day, there’s also numerous shops, restaurants, hotels and bars that need to be kept in top condition.
Then there is the personal sector. Dubai is home to many business expats who are happy to pay for the services of a company to keep their apartment nice and clean.
10. Day-care services
There’s another service that Dubai’s hardworking expats are very much in need of, and that’s day-care.
This particular venture may take a little time to get fully up and running as you’ll need to earn trust and build a customer-base. However, startup costs are minimal, making it an attractive proposition for any entrepreneurs launching on a tight budget. In fact, day-care is one of many popular freelance business ideas in Dubai.
Starting your business in Dubai
Whether you’re looking for business ideas in Dubai for ladies or men, setting up here is both easy and affordable. The cost of registering a company will depend on the type and size of your business. However, if you wish to start up on a budget, it is certainly doable.
Be warned, however: while the application process isn’t difficult, it does require an expert eye. Any errors in your application could lead it to be delayed or rejected. That’s why it’s often a good idea to work with a company setup specialist to help you establish your business.
When you work with a company setup expert all you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to start trading.