Top businesses to start in 2024 in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates offers a variety of business opportunities, both on and offline, for entrepreneurs looking to start new ventures in 2023.

With a GDP growth of 7.6% in 2022 and a projected growth of 4.2% in 2023, the UAE’s economy is growing rapidly. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the region’s diverse, multinational and multicultural population, choosing from a wide range of business opportunities.

In particular, the global rise of technology and remote/hybrid work makes the eCommerce sector an opportunity-rich niche for those willing to put in the effort and work necessary to succeed.

This article takes a closer look at the best businesses to begin in the UAE in 2023 and specifically examines the potential and opportunities of e-commerce in the region.

E-commerce and online retail

At the top of the list of “businesses to start in the UAE in 2023” sits e-commerce businesses. It attains this position at the top of the pile for several reasons.

First and foremost, the e-commerce market in the UAE is rapidly expanding, with revenue projected to reach $13.78bn USD in 2023, with an ongoing annual growth rate of 9.53%. This growth is driven by the increasing use of technology and internet penetration in the region, making it easier for consumers to shop online.

With UAE shoppers placing 58% of their online purchases with overseas vendors, there is a substantial opportunity for entrepreneurs to redirect this spending to the domestic market by developing competing e-commerce stores based in the UAE. 

Another reason for the rapid growth of e-commerce in the region is the UAE government’s desire to move towards a cashless society, which depends on increased digitalisation and adoption of online spending. With various initiatives implemented to support the growth of the online industry, entrepreneurs setting up e-commerce businesses in the UAE in 2023 have plenty of resources and support. This includes initiatives to ease the process of setting up an e-commerce business and providing support for logistics and delivery, using services such as, which streamline the online business setup process.

Furthermore, e-commerce businesses have far lower startup costs than traditional brick-and-mortar stores, with the ability to pivot, grow and scale as necessary. Entrepreneurs can start small and grow their business as they see fit.

Food and beverage

The food and beverage market in the UAE is booming, with a projected revenue of $37.89bn in 2023. Driven by a diverse population, a growing tourism sector, and increasing demand for high-quality, diverse and international cuisine, a unique food and beverage concept has great potential as a new business in the UAE in 2023.

With the region’s government actively promoting the country as a gastronomic destination through initiatives such as the Dubai Food Festival and Abu Dhabi Food Festival, there is a potentially rich opportunity for entrepreneurs to tap into the potential market and rise to the challenges that come with setting up an F&B business.

One of the biggest challenges in this sector is the high business setup cost, as rent and wages are relatively steep compared to other countries in the region. Moreover, the market is highly competitive, making it essential that new businesses have a unique concept and a well-targeted marketing strategy to stand out. And of course, entrepreneurs should also be familiar with the UAE’s strict regulations and laws governing the food and beverage industry.

Health and wellness

The health and wellness market worldwide is seeing massive growth, with a 5.5% CAGR. The UAE is no exception to this global trend, with the population showing a growing awareness of the importance of physical and mental well-being. This, along with the government’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and a growing expat and tourist population, means the health and wellness industry offers significant potential for a lucrative business in 2023.

Popular health and wellness business ideas in the UAE include fitness centres, yoga and pilates studios, spas, salons, and clinics offering cosmetic and aesthetic treatments. However, there is also growing demand for alternative and holistic wellness options such as acupuncture, naturopathy and meditation and energy healing.

One fantastic opportunity is to combine e-commerce with health and fitness. Entrepreneurs could consider offering mobile services or online consultations to cater to the needs of busy individuals, thus leveraging the combined potential of e-commerce and fitness trends in the region.

Real estate

Real estate in the UAE is a well-developed and dynamic industry. Characterised by a high demand for residential and commercial properties alike, real estate development is supported by the government’s ongoing efforts to promote the country as a destination for real estate investment.

Despite being developed, there are still many opportunities in the UAE real estate market. The government is actively working on new projects and initiatives to attract investors and buyers, such as smart city developments and the expansion of free zones. Additionally, the market is continually evolving and adapting to changing trends and technologies, such as the growing popularity of co-living spaces and smart homes.

Entrepreneurs might consider developing specialised real estate services, such as property staging and interior design, or focusing on specific segments of the market, such as luxury properties or affordable housing.

Additionally, with the rise of technology and digitalisation, there are opportunities for businesses to develop and implement smart technologies in real estate projects and offer related services such as virtual tours, digital inspections, and online transaction management.

The takeaway

The UAE is a great place to start a business. By seizing the opportunities offered by the ever-growing economy, diverse population, and supportive government, entrepreneurs have multiple options in various sectors. The e-commerce, food and beverage, health and wellness, and real estate industries are some of the most lucrative and fast-growing markets in the country.

To increase their chances of success when starting a business in the UAE, entrepreneurs must develop a unique concept and strong marketing strategy. The importance of brand, and the Unique Selling Point (USP) that goes with it, cannot be overstated.

Additionally, to succeed, it is essential that entrepreneurs understand the regulations and laws governing the industry, network and build relationships with local businesses and government officials, conduct thorough market research and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

One way entrepreneurs can greatly improve their chances of successfully starting a business in the UAE in 2023 is by partnering with established, well-connected, knowledgeable companies.,  a bespoke eCommerce business setup service, is one such company offering company incorporation for domestic and international e-commerce brands.

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