Dubai’s IT industry has been thriving for many years, and this trend looks set to continue. Last year, the emirate’s rulers set out their plan to make Dubai “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East”, building on a reputation that has already attracted the likes of Microsoft, Facebook, and Google to our shores.
But it’s not just the tech giants that see success out here. Dubai is also home to a bustling community of IT and technology SMEs, taking advantage of our world-beating infrastructure, minimal bureaucracy, and attractive tax regime.
And that’s not all. With expert guidance, starting an IT company in the UAE can be both affordable and straightforward.
If you’re looking to make your mark in the world of technology, there are plenty of great reasons to open an IT company in Dubai. Here’s how to get started.
How to start an IT company in Dubai
So, you’re looking to start an IT company in Dubai. The good news is, the process can be simple, providing you go in with your eyes open, armed with the knowledge to navigate licensing and visa requirements.
To ease this process, it is always advisable to partner with a company formation agent. Working with an agent makes business setup in Dubai easy. We can manage the entire process for you, taking care of early admin and assisting with license, visa, and bank account applications.
When you work with a formation agent, the setup process consists of just five simple steps:
First, we’ll help you choose and register your company name, ensuring that it complies with 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.
Next, we’ll take you through the different types of setup on offer, with the most common being mainland and free zone.
Free zones offer a range of benefits such as full customs tax exemption, no currency restrictions, and the ability to repatriate 100% of your capital and profit.
Mainland companies, on the other hand, cannot take advantage of all of the benefits offered by free zones but they are permitted to trade directly with the local UAE market without the need for a service agent and can also take on government contracts.
When starting an IT company, a free zone setup is likely to be the easiest and most cost-effective option.
Once you are happy with your company name and setup choice, you can begin the process of applying for your UAE trade license.
If you’ve decided that the mainland is a better base for your business, you’ll need to make your application directly to the DED. Most of this process takes place online.
Alternatively, if you have decided on a free zone setup, then you can make your application directly to your chosen free zone. As free zones are self-regulated, you do require additional approvals to trade, making the process faster and more efficient. This is one of several reasons why free zone company setup is often the most affordable and straightforward method of starting a business in Dubai.
It’s now time to apply 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.
A company setup agent can manage this step for you, along with your trade license application.
With your license and visa in hand, you can now apply to open a corporate bank account.
Dubai is home to a wide range of banking institutions, both local banks and international brands. However, bank account opening can be a complicated process for overseas business owners, so it is best to make your application with the help of an expert that is well-versed in the process and its requirements.
What is the cost of setting up an IT company in Dubai?
This is never an easy question to answer with complete certainty as every business is different. Several factors will impact the total cost of setting up your company, including its size, the type of setup, and your chosen location.
Generally speaking, free zone licenses range from AED 9,600 with no visa application, up to AED 24,700 inclusive of six visas, and so on.
What is the best free zone to start an IT company?
There are many considerations when choosing a free zone for your business. You’ll need to think about location, cost, support, and much more before deciding on the one that’s right for you.
When setting up an IT company, the International Free Zone Authority (IFZA) ticks all the boxes.
Recently relocated to Dubai, IFZA offers a single point of contact for all business formation and administration services as well as a strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and a business- and tax-friendly environment.
Business setup in Dubai
The process of company creation in Dubai has been designed with simplicity in mind. That said, it does take some in-depth knowledge of the UAE and its many customs and regulations.
That’s why it’s always advisable to acquire the services of a business setup company that can not only advise on the process but also seek out the most suitable license and setup type for your business, based on your needs and your budget.
When you use business setup services, you also gain peace of mind that your license and visa applications are free from errors and omissions – both of which can lead to delays and rejection.
When you work with a company formation specialist, 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. It really is that simple.