Business Activities in Dubai

Today, the city of Dubai is a magnet for entrepreneurs and businesses seeking a dynamic and lucrative business environment. Thanks to its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, business- 

friendly policies, and diverse economy it has established Dubai as the premier business hub. 

Dubai offers an abundance of opportunities for almost all kinds of business activities across various sectors, ranging from trade and logistics to tourism and hospitality, finance, technology, and real estate. The city’s growth-oriented mindset and its focus on innovation create a fertile ground for entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality. 

So, let’s explore some of these business activities in Dubai that also allow 100% business ownership, types of licenses for different business activities, and how to establish your company in Dubai. 

What are Business Activities in UAE? 

Business activity in Dubai refers to the wide range of commercial endeavours that take place within the city. Dubai has established itself as a global business hub due to its strategic location, well-developed infrastructure, business-friendly policies, and diverse economy.  

The city attracts businesses from various sectors, including: 

1. Trade and Logistics

Dubai’s strategic location makes it a vital trading hub. The city’s infrastructure, including its world-class ports and airports, facilitates the movement of goods and services across the globe. This sector provides golden opportunities for businesses involved in import, export, logistics, and supply chain management. 

2. Tourism and Hospitality

Dubai is a popular tourist destination, with world-class hotels, attractions, and events. The city’s hospitality industry is a significant contributor to its economy, employing a large workforce and generating substantial revenue. 

3. Finance and Banking

Dubai is a regional financial center, home to numerous banks, financial institutions, and investment firms. The city’s regulatory framework and tax structure are attractive to international investors. 

4. Real Estate and Construction

Dubai’s real estate market is one of the most dynamic in the world, with iconic skyscrapers and luxury developments. The city’s construction sector is constantly expanding, fueled by infrastructure projects and demand for residential and commercial properties. 

5. Technology and Innovation

Dubai is increasingly positioning itself as a hub for technology and innovation. The city has launched initiatives to promote startups, foster digital transformation, and attract talent from the global tech scene. 

6. Other Promising Sectors

Beyond these key areas, Dubai offers opportunities in various other sectors, including healthcare, education, retail, manufacturing, and media. The city’s growing population and its focus on diversification create a fertile ground for businesses to explore new avenues. 

Different types of Trade License in UAE 

1. Commercial License

This is the most common type of license, covering a wide range of business activities in UAE and Dubai, including import, export, and wholesale and retail sales. It is suitable for businesses involved in buying and selling goods. 

2. Industrial License

This license is required for businesses that engage in manufacturing or production activities. It is also required for businesses that provide services related to manufacturing or production, such as engineering and consulting. 

3. Professional License

This license is required for businesses that provide professional services, such as law, accounting, medicine, engineering, and consultancy. It is also required for individuals who provide professional services, such as doctors, lawyers, and engineers. 

4. Tourism License

This type of license is required for businesses that operate in the tourism and hospitality sector, such as hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, or tour operators. 

In addition to these main types of trade licenses, there are also a number of specialized licenses that are required for specific activities. The specific requirements for obtaining each type of license vary depending on the nature of the business activities in Dubai and the Emirate in which the business is operating. 

However, the UAE government has made it easier for businesses to obtain trade licenses in recent years. The government has also streamlined the process and reduced the number of required documents. 

Process of obtaining a trade license in the UAE 

The process of obtaining a trade license in the UAE varies from one emirate to another. However, the general requirements typically include: 

  • Choose a business name 
  • Completing an application form 
  • Providing copies of the applicant’s passport and visa 
  • Obtaining approval from relevant government departments 
  • Paying the applicable fees 

Once a trade license has been issued, it must be renewed annually. The cost of renewing a trade license depends on the type of license and the emirate in which the business is located. 

Business Activities in Dubai Freezone vs Mainland 

Business activities in Dubai Free Zones and Mainland are subject to different regulations and restrictions. Here’s a comparison of the business activities allowed in each type of jurisdiction: 

Dubai Free Zones

Free zones in Dubai offer businesses a more flexible and liberal environment compared to the mainland. They typically allow for 100% foreign ownership, provide tax exemptions, and restrict or eliminate customs duties. However, business activities in free zones are generally limited to specific industries and may have some trading restrictions. 

Dubai Mainland

Mainland companies in Dubai have access to the entire UAE market and can conduct business across the country. Mainland companies are also subject to corporate taxes and may face additional regulatory requirements. Businesses operating on the mainland have greater flexibility in terms of the types of business activities they can pursue. 

Comparison of Dubai Freezone Vs Mainland 

Business Activity  Dubai Free Zones  Dubai Mainland 
Trading and Import/Export  Allowed, but may have restrictions  Allowed without restrictions 
Retail and Commercial Services  Allowed, but may require additional permits  Allowed without restrictions 
Manufacturing and Industrial Activities  Allowed in designated free zones  Allowed without restrictions 
Professional Services  Allowed with specific qualifications or licenses  Allowed, but may face additional regulatory requirements 
Hospitality and Tourism  Allowed in designated free zones  Allowed without restrictions 


The choice between a Dubai Free Zone and a Mainland license depends on the specific business activities and needs of the company. For businesses that primarily cater to international markets and require a flexible regulatory environment, a free zone license may be a suitable option.  

However, if a business primarily targets the UAE market and requires access to the entire country, a mainland license may be more appropriate. 

Step into Success with Shuraa Business Setup 

No doubt, Dubai presents a compelling destination for entrepreneurs seeking to establish and grow their businesses. Dubai provides the resources, infrastructure, and connections you need to turn your entrepreneurial aspirations into reality. 

However, to navigate the complexities of business setup in Dubai and ensure a smooth transition, seeking guidance from experienced business setup consultants like Shuraa Business Setup is highly recommended.  

With over 22 years of expertise in assisting businesses to establish their presence in the UAE, Shuraa’s team of dedicated professionals provides comprehensive support, from initial consultation and company registration to PRO services and office spaces. 

So, entrepreneurs, seize the opportunity, dream big, and let the expertise of seasoned professionals guide you on your path to success.