Dubai is famous as the home of big money and big business.
It’s not hard to see what attracts the top business professionals and entrepreneurs to this part of the world. Along with the UAE’s excellent location between the vast markets to the east and west, the country also boasts a 0% tax rate and an incredibly encouraging business environment.
These factors don’t only combine to make the ideal home for big businesses, however. The UAE also supports a vast network of solo entrepreneurs, freelancers and SMEs. Behind the bright lights and sky-high buildings is a community of entrepreneurs bootstrapping their way to the top.
If you’d like to take your place in this thriving business landscape, while working on a budget, there are plenty of opportunities available to you. Here are just a few for your consideration.
What is the best business to start in Dubai?
Dubai is home to a range of healthy and expanding industries. Outside of those you might expect, such as oil & gas or financial services, there are host of other opportunities for the ambitious entrepreneur.
The best business to start in Dubai depends on your background, skillset and passion. Everything is on offer here, from film production and new media through to healthcare, tourism and technology.
So, if you’re wondering what business to start in Dubai, first ask yourself – what is my passion? What are my key skills? What problem can I solve?
Once you’ve answered these questions, you can then start to align your personal circumstances with the opportunities available.There’s another important factor to consider here too – budget. You can start your business with AED 10k or AED 10m.
If you don’t have a big budget, fret not. There are plenty of low-cost business opportunities in Dubai and the wider UAE.
How to start a business in Dubai without money
Now onto the big question – how to start a business in Dubai without money? Or should that be – how to start a business in Dubai with minimal upfront investment? Because in truth, setting up without spending a dime is as possible here as it is in any other part of the world.
So, with that in mind, here are 5 businesses that you can start with minimal or zero investment.
Wellness: Health and wellbeing are big business in Dubai, with a market estimated at almost USD 3bn, making it the largest in the Middle East.
If you already have skills in this area, there is no additional capital required. Teach yoga from the beach, become a personal trainer or design nutritional plans for the emirate’s busy workforce – all without costly setup or equipment.
Consultancy: Assuming you’ve got smart business attire, a laptop and a deep knowledge of your industry, you’re ready to become a consultant.
There are no specific qualifications required but you must be experienced in your field – this could mean you have industry-specific qualifications or years of on-the-job experience.
The GCC’s management consultancy industry is worth USD 2.8bn, up 7% on recent years.
Online trading: Thanks to readily available e-commerce platforms and template sites, setting up an online store now only requires basic computer know-how. Now, all you need is something to sell.
To keep costs low, use a drop shipping company. These companies will store and distribute items on your behalf, meaning no upfront stock or warehousing costs.
Web design: Dubai is home to thousands of businesses that want to spread their message online. If you have the skill to help them, the rewards can be plentiful.
All that’s required is a laptop, software and a flair for self-promotion.
Tutoring: One of the best ways to keep costs low when starting a business is to make use of the skills you already have. Tutoring is a great way to do this.
You can tutor in person or via video call. And it’s not just for traditional teaching such as maths or languages. You could teach cooking, crafts, dance – anything you have a flair for.
Starting your business in Dubai
Keep in mind that any business you start will require a license. This is where the cost comes in. But rest assured, it is minimal.
The most cost-effective way to start your business in Dubai is to set up in a free zone with the help of a company formation expert. We can guide you through the key steps, including:
Business activities: Your licensed activities match exactly to those you intend to carry out. There are thousands of business activities listed in Dubai. The activity or activities that you choose will depend on the nature of your business.
Company name: When choosing a company name, you’ll need to adhere to the UAE’s naming criteria.
You cannot include any offensive or blasphemous language, nor any references to Allah or Islam in your company name. If you wish to include your name in your company name, you must use it in full rather than just your surname or initials. You must also check that your chosen name is available to be registered.
Applying for your license: We can manage the entire application for you, liaising with all relevant authorities on your behalf.
Applying for your visa: You will need to visit an immigration centre during the process to provide biometric information. The visa application also includes a fitness test, blood test and chest x-ray.
Providing you meet the salary criteria, it is also possible to sponsor others for their UAE visas too, such as your children, partner or parents.
The cost for this service starts at just AED 9,600, with discounts available on longer-term licenses.
Working with a company setup expert
Whatever the business you’re looking to start, 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 in the UAE to help you establish your business.
When you work with a company set up 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.