How to start a cloud kitchen in Dubai: Step-by-Step

Craving a slice of the burgeoning food delivery market in Dubai? Welcome to the revolution of cloud kitchens. This comprehensive guide will unravel the mystery behind this culinary trend that’s taking the food industry by storm.

In this article, we’ll cover the following:

  • What is a cloud kitchen?
  • What is the difference between a cloud kitchen and a traditional restaurant?
  • Why cloud kitchens have gained popularity worldwide and specifically in Dubai
  • How to start a cloud kitchen in Dubai: Step-by-Step
  • Essential factors to consider when starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai
  • How Trade License Zone can help

What is a cloud kitchen?

A cloud kitchen, also known as a ghost kitchen, virtual kitchen, or cloud kitchen, is a professional food preparation and cooking facility set up for the preparation of delivery-only meals. A cloud kitchen doesn’t have a traditional restaurant setting (such as seating capacity for diners), as they solely focus on producing food to be delivered to customers through online ordering platforms, like Noon Food, Talabat, EatEasy, and Deliveroo in Dubai. The core idea behind a cloud kitchen is to reduce overheads associated with a traditional restaurant, such as property and wait staff costs, thus enhancing profit margins. Once an order has been received from an app or online portal, and the meal is cooked and prepared, delivery drivers collect it for delivery.

What is the difference between a cloud kitchen and a traditional restaurant?

Traditional restaurants operate with a dual focus on food and service, with the physical location, ambiance, waiting staff, host, and dining experience playing vital roles in their success – not just their kitchens’ meals. Customers visit these locations to enjoy meals in a particular setting, and the dine-in business model is integral to their operation.

On the other hand, cloud kitchens pivot away from the traditional dine-in model to a delivery-only approach. These kitchens operate without the need for customer-facing dining areas; instead, they are optimised for food delivery and takeout. The elimination of dining spaces, waiting staff, and related costs provide them with the agility and cost-efficiency needed in today’s fast-paced food delivery market.

Why cloud kitchens have gained popularity worldwide and specifically in Dubai

Cloud kitchens surged in popularity due to the increasing demand for food delivery services, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the trend towards convenience and contactless dining, these virtual establishments have been the perfect solution.

In Dubai, specifically, this model has found great acceptance. The city’s diverse expatriate population, fast-paced lifestyle, and rapidly growing food delivery market have made it a fertile ground for cloud kitchens. Coupled with the high property rental and operational costs of traditional restaurants, the cloud kitchen model offers an affordable and efficient way to meet Dubai’s insatiable demand for diverse dining options. Remember, Dubai’s population consists of 90 percent ex-patriates. This has been another of the most significant factors in the growth of cloud kitchens in the United Arab Emirates.

How to start a cloud kitchen in Dubai: Step-by-Step

Starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai involves several crucial steps. This process may be complex to those unfamiliar with the UAE’s regulations. However, Trade License Zone’s team are specialists in setting up businesses, applying for trade licenses, and ensuring companies comply with Dubai’s laws.

Step 1: Partner with Trade License Zone

When starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai, partnering with a company formation expert such as Trade License Zone ensures your process is smooth and streamlined. We’ll guide you through the required government steps and inform you when you can start trading.

Step 2: Choose a business structure and business jurisdiction

There are three main business structure types to choose from for starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)
  • Free Zone or Mainland Company

A Free Zone company setup is the most popular business formation structure for foreign nationals. There are more than 40 Free Zone types to choose from, each centred around specific industries and offering tax benefits, support services and other advantages. A Free Zone company setup also gives the foreign national entrepreneur 100 percent ownership of the business.

Step 3: Select your business activities

A company may only conduct business activities as selected for its trade license. Failure to do so may result in severe penalties from UAE authorities. There are more than 2,000 business activities, so choosing the ones you will carry out when trading as a cloud kitchen are essential.

Consult a trade license expert like Trade License Zone to select the appropriate business activities for your cloud kitchen venture.

Step 4: Choose a business name for your cloud kitchen

Trade License Zone will help in choosing an appropriate business name, adhering to the guidelines laid down by the UAE’s Registry Office. It’s vital to ensure your selected business name avoids any potentially offensive or disrespectful language, and does not make reference to Islam or Allah. If you intend to incorporate your personal name into the company name, it should be stated in full rather than using initials or surnames. You’ll be asked to submit three potential names, which the Registry Office will then check for availability and approve your final selection.

Step 5: Choose a business location

When choosing a business location for your cloud kitchen, you must consider rental costs, kitchen size and requirements, and ease of delivery logistics. Once you’ve chosen your preferred location, the Dubai Municipality’s Food Safety Department will need to check it.

Step 6: Apply for initial approval

To proceed with your trade license application, you must first apply for initial approval for your business activities from the Department of Economic Development (DED) or the Free Zone authority (depending on your chosen business structure and jurisdiction). This step involves submitting the necessary documents, such as your passport, visa, and business plan to the DED for analysis.

Step 7: Apply for trade licenses

Once you’ve been granted your initial approval, you can submit your trade license application to the DED or the Free Zone authority. You may qualify for several trade licenses for a cloud kitchen, but you must apply for those most appropriate for your business activities.

For selecting the most fitting business license for your cloud kitchen setup, consult with the specialists at Trade License Zone.

Step 8: Open a corporate bank account

Once you have been issued your trade licenses, you can open a corporate bank account for your cloud kitchen. After that, you can begin trading in Dubai.

Essential factors to consider when starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai

The success of a cloud kitchen setup in Dubai depends on multiple factors, but some key considerations include:

  1. Menu and quality control: A well-designed menu and consistent quality of food are essential.
  2. Delivery logistics: Speedy and efficient delivery is crucial. Partnering with established delivery platforms can help, but building your own delivery network may offer more control.
  3. Location: Even though customers won’t dine-in, your location still matters as it impacts delivery times and the areas you can cater to.
  4. Regulatory compliance: Ensure adherence to all health, safety, and food hygiene regulations.

How Trade License Zone can help

Starting a cloud kitchen in Dubai involves several procedures and legalities. Trade License Zone is your trusted partner in this enterprise. We provide comprehensive support in business planning, company formation, trade licensing, regulatory compliance, and more. Our team of experts is well-versed in the UAE business landscape and can help you set up your cloud kitchen swiftly and efficiently.

The cloud kitchen model offers exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs in Dubai. With strategic planning, a focus on quality and delivery efficiency, and the right professional guidance, you can tap into this thriving market and establish a successful food delivery business. Contact Trade License Zone today to kick-start your culinary venture in the heart of Dubai.

Contact us to get a personalized quotation based on your business activity