How to Start a Business in Dubai and Secure the Right Business License – SRTIP

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How to start a business in Dubai - A&A Associate

Imagine a world where your income remains untaxed, a place that offers both safety and dynamic opportunities. Surprisingly, this isn’t just a fantasy; it’s the reality in Dubai, a city where generations have enjoyed this unique privilege.

Starting a business in Dubai is like finding a clear path to financial freedom. While some

places may put obstacles in your way, Dubai offers a smooth journey for those with big dreams. It’s a hotspot for ultra-high-net-worth individuals, where investments thrive. The government has put in place supportive rules and regulations to nurture business aspirations and enhance the entrepreneurial landscape.

Launching a new business in Dubai is an extraordinary choice, whether you’re already in

the city or anywhere else in the world. It requires careful planning, creative thinking, thorough research, smart budgeting, precise setup, and confident decision-making, among other essentials.

To make this journey easier, expert guidance is available to help you choose the right trade license, especially if you’re a budding entrepreneur. If you’re thinking about starting a business in Dubai, this article will walk you through the process and essential steps for a successful business launch in the vibrant landscape of Dubai, UAE.

The Business Landscape in Dubai

Dubai, the thriving commercial heart of the Middle East, offers abundant opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors aiming to establish a business presence in the region.

Renowned for its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, tax benefits, and robust economy, Dubai magnetizes international businesses seeking global expansion.

Dubai is dedicated to building a knowledge ecosystem that nurtures future-focused businesses. It also provides a dynamic setting for business events, boasting global connectivity, modern venues, and exceptional hospitality. Its economy stands among the world’s most diversified, with oil contributing less than 1% to its GDP. Dubai’s favorable tax regime, featuring a ‘nil’ corporate tax rate and 5% VAT, is a significant advantage for businesses.

When it comes to business setup in Dubai, it’s crucial to grasp the distinctions between

the three primary jurisdictions: Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore. Choosing the right one depends on your business objectives and each comes with its own set of considerations.

Mainland Companies:

  • Mainland companies have access to both the local and international Visa issuance depends on office space size, typically allowing one visa for every 80 square feet.
  • Mainland companies must have physical office space, with a minimum requirement of 200 square feet.
  • Recent changes allow 100% foreign ownership of mainland companies, simplifying business ownership and operation across the UAE.

Free Zone Companies:

  • Free zones offer favorable tax and customs rates, allowing for 100% foreign ownership, 100% corporate tax exemption, and 100% repatriation of
  • Visa allocation varies by free zone and office space, typically allowing 3-6
  • Various office space options are available within free
  • Complete ownership of your company is a significant advantage in free zones, eliminating the need for a local sponsor or service agent. However, you cannot conduct business on the mainland.

Some notable Free Zones examples in Dubai include Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Knowledge Park, and Dubai Healthcare City, among others. These zones cater to specific industries, offering tailored advantages for businesses in those sectors.

Types of Business License in Dubai

In the UAE, there are three primary types of business setups:

  1. Trade License: This type of license is issued to companies engaged in trading
  2. Industrial License: Companies involved in manufacturing activities are granted industrial licenses.
  3. Professional License: Professional licenses are issued to companies operating in the professional, artisan, service provider, and craftsman sectors.

These distinctions help tailor business setups to specific activities and industries, ensuring clarity and appropriate regulation. So, If you’re considering starting a business in Dubai, understanding these license types is essential for a successful venture.

Why Start a Dubai-Based Business?

Dubai’s free zones already permit 100% foreign ownership, making them an attractive choice for starting a new business in Dubai, offering numerous incentives and favorable tax regimes.


Advantages of Investing in Dubai: Dubai offers several advantages for investors:

  1. Tax Benefits: Companies incorporated in Dubai enjoy tax benefits such as no corporate tax, withholding tax, VAT, import/export tax, and capital gains tax. The UAE has also signed numerous double tax avoidance treaties with major
  2. Access to Local Currency: Foreigners have easy access to local currency as thereare no exchange controls in place.
  1. Multicultural Environment: Dubai welcomes foreigners, offering a multicultural environment with a diverse population. The city stays updated with global trends, making it a paradise for food enthusiasts. Additionally, residents are exempt from paying personal income tax.

Booming Economy: Dubai’s rapid economic growth makes it an attractive location for businesses looking to start in Dubai. It ranks among the world’s fastest-growing cities, drawing companies from around the globe.

  1. Skilled Workforce: Dubai’s liberal labor laws and favorable working conditions make it easy and cost-effective to recruit a skilled workforce from around the world. The city’s expatriate-friendly policies enable businesses to scale their resources
  2. Location, Infrastructure, and Reputation: Dubai offers world-class infrastructure,including transportation, healthcare, education, and corporate spaces. Its strategic location and strong business reputation make it an ideal place to start and attract businesses in Dubai.
  1. Business-Friendly Laws: The UAE government continually updates laws to create a comfortable environment for foreign investors. Legal procedures are streamlined for quick licensing and registration to set up a Business Licence in Dubai.
  2. Tax Exemption: Dubai offers various business ownership patterns and tax categories, including Free Zones with 100% tax exemptions. This means businesses can operate with minimal tax burdens.

By considering these advantages and reasons, Dubai emerges as an appealing destination for entrepreneurs looking to establish and expand their businesses in Dubai.


The Process of Starting a Dubai-Based Business

  1. Select a Business Activity: Before diving in, conduct thorough research to gauge the feasibility and profitability of your business idea. Understanding the market dynamics will help you determine the ideal timing to launch your venture in Dubai.
  2. Choose the Right Jurisdiction: Dubai boasts a range of economic zones, including Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore, each offering its unique advantages for business setup in Dubai. Your decision should align closely with your specific business needs, making it essential to consider your options thoughtfully.
  3. Decide on Your Company Structure: Your choice of legal structure is crucial, as it influences profit distribution, resource allocation, and overall organization. It also impacts your business license application, so explore options like Limited Liability Company (LLC), Sole Establishment, Civil Company, Foreign Company Branch, and Free Zone Company Branch.
  4. Get Necessary Approvals: Before proceeding, obtain approval from the Department of Economic Development (DED) for your trade name and business activity. These approvals are prerequisites for applying for your UAE trade license when starting a business in Dubai.
  5. Apply for a Trade License: when it comes to obtaining a Business License in Dubai it depends on your business type, choose from three main license categories: Commercial, Professional, or Industrial. While mainland businesses have these options, free zones follow specific licensing structures aligned with business
  6. Select a Business Name: Carefully choose a name that adheres to UAE naming conventions, avoiding offensive or disrespectful language. If naming after an individual, ensure their genuine partnership or ownership.
  1. Register Your Company: When starting a new business in Dubai, Registering your company and obtaining licenses involve meticulous documentation and approvals from relevant government entities are paramount important. Ensure compliance with document requirements tailored to your business type and activity.
  1. Find a Local Agent (if required): In the past, a local Emirati partner was mandatory for starting a business in Dubai. However, business setup consultants can now connect you with corporate sponsors, granting you 100% ownership.
  1. Secure External Approvals: Depending on your business activity, the DED may request additional approvals from various government or non-government agencies, such as municipalities, banks, or embassies.
  2. Obtain Ejari and Tenancy Contract: An Ejari, a tenancy contract regulated by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), is essential when renting office space. It’s required for visa applications, legal compliance, and ensuring a stable operating environment. So, these documents are vital for your office setup, and ensuring you have them in place will help you navigate the process smoothly on the successful launching of your business in Dubai.
  1. Get Initial Approval: Ensure you receive initial approval from DED before proceeding with your business license application.
  1. Collect Your Trade License: To obtain your UAE trade license, you must submit several documents, including your trade license application, trade name reservation certificate, initial approval certificate, tenancy contract, Ejari registration certificate, passport copies of partners, and other required items.
  2. Choose a Free Zone: If you opt for a free zone company setup, explore over 50 distinctive free zones based on the nature of your business. Proximity to similar businesses can foster collaboration and growth.
  1. Establish a Corporate Bank Account: After obtaining approvals and required documents, proceed to open a corporate bank account with various options available in the UAE.

By following these steps, you can navigate the process of starting a business in Dubai efficiently and successfully, while considering the specific needs and goals of your venture.


Contact SRTIP Accelerator to start a business in Dubai


Dubai provides a range of company establishment options to cater to your needs, whether you’re looking to launch a small enterprise or a large corporation. With meticulous planning, expert assistance, and proper guidance, the process of starting a business in Dubai can be both enjoyable and highly successful.

If you require expert guidance on establishing a company in Dubai, UAE, don’t hesitate to reach out to SRTIP Accelerator. We have been assisting 1000+ entrepreneurs in realizing their business goals in the UAE. Book your free consultation with our team of experts today and take the first step towards your entrepreneurial journey!

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