Starting a business in Dubai?

start your business in Dubai today.

There are many great reasons to start a business in Dubai. The emirate’s location at the centre of the world makes it the ideal spot from which to trade a variety of global markets. Not only is Dubai within a few hours flying time of around one-third of the global population but its time zone also overlaps with many major business cities.

Then there is Dubai’s tax regime – still an incredibly attractive 0%. Set up in a free zone and you can benefit from 100% customs tax exemption too.

Dubai is also very welcoming to international entrepreneurs. The UAE as a whole often ranks highly in the World Bank’s Doing Business Index and recent changes to company ownership regulation and visa laws have made it easier than ever for overseas investors to do business here.

Getting started is easy too. With the help of an expert, setting up your business in the UAE can be both straightforward and affordable.

How to start a business in Dubai

If you want to start your own business in Dubai, the first step is to outline your business activities. It’s important that you make this decision upfront as it will have a bearing on the type of license you require and whether it is best to set up in a free zone or on the mainland.

There are thousands of activities to choose from, as listed by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), covering all manner of sectors and sub-sectors.

While there is great scope in the activities that you can choose from, it is vital that you detail every activity that you wish to carry out. If you undertake multiple business activities then it is possible to list all of these under one license, depending on the type of license you apply for.

To save you sifting through the thousands of activities to find the right fit, a company set up firm can help with this step, suggesting the best option for your organisation.

Next, you’ll need to decide whether your business would be better suited to a free zone or mainland setup. As previously mentioned, free zones offer a number of advantages including, but certainly not limited to, full customs tax exemption, no currency restrictions and the ability to repatriate 100% of your capital and profit.

While mainland setups don’t offer these particular benefits, they do allow you to trade directly with the local UAE market without the need for a service agent and take on potentially lucrative government contracts – both things that free zone businesses cannot do.

With your activities and setup decided, you can now choose your business name. This step takes on particular importance in Dubai, as you will need to ensure that your chosen name meets the emirate’s naming criteria.

You cannot include any offensive or blasphemous language, nor any references to Allah or Islam in your company name and 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. Again, a company formation expert can help you with this step.

Now for the most important step when looking to start a business in Dubai – applying for your license.

The process here will differ slightly depending on the type of setup – free zone or mainland – that you have opted for.


If you’ve chosen to set up in a free zone, you’ll need to submit your completed application – along with some basic documentation about you and your company – directly to your chosen free zone.

If you’ve decided that the mainland is a better base for your business, you’ll need to make your application directly to Dubai’s Department of Economic Development.

When it comes to the cost of starting a business in Dubai, a number of factors are in play. The size of your business, whether you require premises, the type of license required and the type of setup you choose will all have an impact.

But while it is difficult to give an idea of the cost of starting a business in Dubai, it should be said that there is an option for all budgets. If you wish to start a business here and keep costs down, it is certainly doable.

businessman in Dubai

Other considerations

Your trade license, while important, is just one requirement to doing business in Dubai. In order to trade here, you’ll also need a visa and a corporate bank account.


You can make your visa application yourself or work with a company formation expert who can manage the application as part of the business set up process. It is also possible to sponsor others for their UAE visas too, such as your children, partner or parents. When it comes to applying for a corporate bank account, it is again advisable to work with an expert to ensure you don’t waste time applying to a bank that is not suited to your needs.

Planning to setup a business in Dubai?

It’s easy to feel daunted by the prospect of starting your own business in Dubai. However, while the application process is very particular, help is always at hand.

A company formation expert can handle every aspect of your application for you, liaising with all authorities on your behalf and advising on the type of setup that best suits your needs.

That’s why it’s always advisable to acquire the services of a business setup company if you wish to start a business in Dubai. We can not only advise on the process but also seek out the most suitable way forward based on your needs and your budget.

When you work with us, 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.