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Why should you start business in Dubai as a foreigner?

start business in dubai as a foreigner

Why should you start business in Dubai as a foreigner?

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Start a Business in Dubai as a foreigner with Shuraa Business Setup. Most of Dubai’s residents are expatriates, many of whom run their enterprises. Dubai actively encourages foreign investors and entrepreneurs, offering support through setup agents and company formation experts who assist with licenses, visas, and incorporation procedures. 

With benefits like tax exemptions, simplified startup processes, quick procedures, a booming economy, and political stability, the UAE provides an attractive environment for foreigners launching businesses. In summary, expatriates can register new businesses in the UAE, making it a viable option for those seeking these advantages.  

Is Dubai Open to Non-Residents Starting Businesses?

Dubai welcomes foreign investment, allowing non-residents to start and own businesses. Recent changes include: 

Easier Business Licenses (January 2024) 

The Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) introduced easier procedures for non-residents to get business licenses, attracting more international entrepreneurs. 

Local Sponsorship Waiver (April 2023)

The Dubai government removed the requirement for local sponsorship in key sectors like technology, media, and healthcare, creating a more investor-friendly environment. 

These measures demonstrate Dubai's commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth and foreign investment. 

Benefits of Starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner

Below are the benefits of starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner: 
  • Get 100% ownership regardless of nationality. 
  • Minimal income tax, no VAT on residential property in free zones. 
  • Fast-growing and profitable business, guaranteeing a stable business environment. 
  • Excellent infrastructure, healthcare, and public spaces. 
  • Central to Europe, Asia, and Africa, facilitating international trade. 
  • 0% corporate tax, maximising profits. 
  • Low crime rates and stringent law enforcement. 
  • Extensive market access for growth. 
  • Incentives and support for foreign investments. 

Dubai offers a business-friendly environment with low taxes and complete ownership freedom, making it an ideal choice for entrepreneurs. 

Why Start a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner?

Dubai is one of the leading economic hubs in the Middle East. Its location allows easy access to suppliers across the Gulf, Asia, and Africa. Around 90% of its population is expatriated.  

Dubai is known for its extraordinary infrastructure. Its favourable tax policies and forward-thinking leadership, focused on technology and innovation, help create an ideal business environment for entrepreneurs to boom in the Dubai business industry. For foreigners, starting a business in Dubai makes for success and the opportunity to live in a financially rewarding city. 

Key points for Starting a Business in Dubai 

The key points for Starting a Business in Dubai 

Choosing Your Business Structure 

You can choose between a Limited Liability Company (LLC) or a Sole Proprietorship. Selecting the appropriate Business type depends on your business’s nature, purpose, and operational needs. 

Understanding the Jurisdiction

  • Mainland: It allows trading both locally and internationally. The company formation process is relatively easy, and the business licenses can be obtained within a day. 
  • Free Zones: Free zones are cost-effective and ideal for new enterprises. Prominent free zones include Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA), Dubai Media City, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Ras Al Khaimah (RAKEZ), International Freezone Authority (IFZA), and Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC). Each free zone has its own rules, regulations, and setup timelines. 
These factors make Dubai a prime choice for foreign entrepreneurs looking for a booming and supportive business environment. 

Different Business Licenses for Foreigners in Dubai

In Dubai, foreigners can get different business licenses for specific activities: 
  • Commercial License: For trading businesses involved in buying, selling, importing, or exporting goods. 
  • Professional License: This is for service providers like consultants, healthcare professionals, and artisans offering expertise. 
  • Industrial License: For manufacturing businesses that convert raw materials into finished products. 
  • Tourism License: This is required for businesses in the tourism sector, including travel agencies, tour operators, and hospitality services. 

How to Start a Business in Dubai as a Foreigner?

Starting a business in Dubai as a foreigner requires different steps. The process is aligned with the government's regulations. Here’s a step-by-step guide for non-residents:  

1. Select Your Business Type 

The first step is to select a business type for your business. Select the type that suits your business perfectly. You can choose a Sole proprietorship. In a sole proprietorship, you are the single owner of the company. If you decide on a Limited Liability Company or LLC, it will provide a separate legal identity for your business.  

2. Choose a name for your Trading business 

Once you have completed your Business type, the next step is to choose a business name. Choose a name that matches the nature of your business. Legal advisors like Shuraa can assist in selecting a unique, not previously registered name that aligns with your business activities.  

4. Get the Necessary License 

Get a business license, a mandatory requirement for non-residents. Get the license from relevant authorities, either directly from free zone authorities or the Department of Economic Development (DED). 

5. Complete Business Registration and Incorporation

Collect all your important documents. Including identity proofs, trade licenses, permissions, and bank account details. Then, register your business with the appropriate jurisdiction and transform it into a legal entity within Dubai. 

6. Get a Business Visa 

Apply for a business visa to facilitate international travel for business purposes. Business visas also allow senior staff members to apply for residency. Non-resident entrepreneurs can get long-term visas for themselves and their dependents by liaising with the local embassy.    If you need any help, you can directly contact our Shuraa experts.  

Documents required to start a business in Dubai for foreigners

Documents needed to start a business in Dubai as a foreigner include: 
  • Passport Copy: Important for all business-related activities. 
  • Visa Copy: Required for non-UAE residents. 
  • Business Plan: Details your objectives, strategies, and financial forecasts. 
  • Certificate of Good Conduct: Confirms a clean criminal record. 
  • Financial Statement: Demonstrates financial capability to operate effectively. 
Note: Requirements may vary depending on the business activity. 

Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai for Foreigners Entrepreneurs

For foreign entrepreneurs, you should care about things before starting a business in Dubai.  

1. Thorough Research is Key

Before registering, conduct extensive research. Familiarise yourself with the diverse business licenses available and understand the specific requirements for each category.  

2. Legal Guidance is Important

Invest in legal counsel. A knowledgeable lawyer can guide you through the intricate legal procedures of starting a business in Dubai for foreigners and ensure compliance with local regulations.  

3. Network Effectively

Forge connections within Dubai’s business community. Networking with businesses provides access to valuable advice and support from experienced professionals, enhancing your chances of success.  

4. Practice Patience

Starting a business in Dubai may require time and effort. Be patient and persistent throughout the process. Welcome challenges with resilience, knowing that perseverance often leads to rewarding outcomes.  

Business Setup Choices in Dubai for International Entrepreneurs  

If you're a foreigner looking to start a business in Dubai, you have two main options: Mainland and Free Zone companies. 
  • Mainland Company: This setup allows you to operate anywhere in the UAE, including free zones. You can choose from legal structures such as a Limited Liability Company (LLC), Professional License (for sole proprietorship), or Civil Company. One key advantage is that you can own 100% of the company. 
  • Free Zone Company: Dubai offers over 50 free zones, each designed for specific industries like technology, healthcare, media, and design. Establishing a free zone offers benefits such as full foreign ownership, complete repatriation of capital and profits, and exemptions from import and export duties. 

Consult a Shuraa Business Setup advisor for advice on the best option for your business needs. 

What is the cost of starting a Business in Dubai as a Foreign Entrepreneur?  

Starting a business in Dubai as an expatriate or foreigner entails costs that are determined by several factors. These factors depend on the nature of the business, license fees, chosen location, and necessary documentation. For instance, the trade license could start from 12,000 AED.  

Furthermore, selecting a non-Arabic foreign name for your company incurs an additional fee of AED 2,000*. These costs are essential for expats planning to start their entrepreneurial business in Dubai.  

Note: The cost of setting up your business depends on its type and subject change. To find out the exact cost, contact Shuraa Business Setup. 

Wrapping up with Shuraa

In Dubai, certain businesses require approval from government bodies. For example, opening a restaurant requires a municipality permit regarding food safety. Similarly, specific industrial activities mandate leasing or renting factory space of a designated minimum area.  

Commencing a business in Dubai as a foreigner or non-resident holds significant promise due to the city’s strong economy, strategic positioning, and favourable business climate. You can start your business in Dubai as a foreign entrepreneur with proper guidance and preparation. Shuraa Business Setup professionals can help you whenever you feel stuck. Reach out to Shuraa today.  

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