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Starting a Business in Dubai: Best Step-by-Step Guide

Société ouverte à Dubaï


Every year, the number of people that want starting a business in Dubai increases. It has some notable advantages from a tax or organizational point of view.

Here’s how to set up your structure and find out what options are available to you.

Three Good Reasons to Starting a Business in Dubai

Starting a business in Dubai has many advantages. First, the procedures for creating a company are much simpler than in the United States. Fiscally, the country is also favorable to entrepreneurs.

1. An Advantageous Tax System

In Dubai, there is no corporate tax. Similarly, no VAT is applied to offshore companies (companies established in a host country other than that of their directors).

Another advantage, and not the least, is that no withholding tax could impact you.

This tax system attracts many entrepreneurs much more than in the United States. They can thus reduce their costs while increasing their profits.

2. A Stable Country

Dubai is a country that enjoys political, economic, and banking stability. The United Arab Emirates is known for its rapid growth, dynamism, and international recognition. Unemployment is very low, and the GDP per capita is among the highest in the world.

Dubai’s banks do not hesitate to support foreign entrepreneurs. The banking network is very extensive in the emirate. The products and services offered by the banks are also adapted to entrepreneurs.

3. A Quick Registration

Company registration in Dubai is a speedy operation. The procedure is simple, allowing entrepreneurs to launch their businesses in a short time.

From a legal point of view, the local law that applies is very flexible. There is, for example, no obligation to have the capital to create a structure. As a foreigner, you also can benefit from 100% of the income.

With an offshore company, you can do business with any country worldwide. This, without having to be present on the Dubai territory.

Thus, American entrepreneurs benefit from more freedom and flexibility in exercising their functions.

How to Start a Business in Dubai Step-by-Step

Learn the main steps of starting a business in Dubai.

1. Define Your Business Project and Develop a Business Plan

Before discussing administrative procedures, the first thing to do to create your company in Dubai is to define your project carefully. This city attracts many entrepreneurs every year, and the competition is tough. So take the time to define your project.

Define your target, analyze your competitors, and specify your financing method. The elaboration of your business plan is the triangular stone of your project. You must work on it before taking any steps.

Once you have a solid business plan, you can think about the legal form of your company. You will have three possibilities:

  • Create an offshore company and market your products anywhere in the world without being physically present in Dubai
  • Create a free-zone company, which must be located in one of the free zones of Dubai (Dubai Airport, Jebel Ali, Dubai Multi Commodities Center, etc.)
  • Create a Mainland company that can be located anywhere in the city and includes more activity sectors.

These different legal forms have their advantages and disadvantages. Take the time to analyze them before starting.

3. Choosing a Name for the Structure

In Dubai, the rules are pretty strict regarding company names. The name of your company must not contain any insults or offensive. Similarly, the name should not refer to religion or politics.

The company name cannot include only your initials: your full name must appear.

Once you have chosen a suitable name, file your trademark with the Dubai Department of Economic Development.

4. Register the company

To register your company, you must have certain mandatory documents such as

  • A completed application form for the establishment of a company
  • Photocopy of your passport and that of the other possible shareholders
  • Your local sponsor gives the no objection certificate (NOC) in case of creating your company in free zones.

In some cases, your business plan may be requested. Your complete file must be submitted to the Dubai Business Registration Office.

5. Apply for a License

You must then apply for a license to operate your business. Depending on your field, you can apply for

  • Commercial license
  • Trading license
  • Service and consulting license
  • Industrial license.

Once you have determined the type of license you need to open your business, you can apply for it:

  • With the Department of Economic Development, if you are setting up a company that is not considered a free zone
  • From the free zone of your choice, if applicable.

Please note that you will have to pay an annual license fee between AED 15,000 and AED 25,000. The license is valid for twelve months and must be renewed every year. Please allow three weeks to one month for delivery.

6. Open a Bank Account

The last step in setting up a business in Dubai is to open a business bank account.

To do this, you need to be in Dubai. Therefore, look at the banks and their offers to find the most suitable structure for your project.

Requirements to Start an American Business in Dubai

To launch your business in Dubai, you must rent an office. Your personal address cannot be used to define your company’s headquarters.

If you are setting up a Mainland company, you must sign a contract with a sponsor who owns 51% of your company. You can set up a free zone company if you want to own your company outright.

Finally, there is no minimum capital requirement to start a business in Dubai.

Starting a business in Dubai has a cost, but this cost is not fixed. It depends on:

  • Location of the company
  • The legal form of the company
  • Cost of renting office space
  • Possible interpreter fees
  • License fees, etc.

You now understand how to start a business in Dubai. For the rest, do not hesitate to study the cost of living in Dubai beforehand to ensure the project’s viability. This way, you can ensure that you will enjoy a decent salary.

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This is also interesting:

What countries should I move to? The best countries to move to are not the same for everyone! Finding the ideal destination depends first of all on what is expected on a personal level.

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