Can a Foreigner Start a Business in Dubai?

Dubai is a fast-paced and ever-changing city. As such, the bright and lively atmosphere attracts foreigners from all over the globe. Both as tourists and as potential investors. Thus, business setup and PRO services in Dubai are growing industry.

The energetic aura that the city possessed persuaded expats to choose Dubai over any other place. Where there is energy, there is opportunity. These opportunities, whether in education or the job market, attracted the immigrants to pick Dubai as the city where they would like to settle down. 

Dubai was a recent host of the Expo 2020. This attraction was unlike any other, attracting over 20 million visitors. Among these visitors were entrepreneurs who wanted to start a business in Dubai. Though this asks the question, what advantages does a foreigner have in Dubai as opposed to anywhere else? 

Firstly, the strategic placement of the city itself. which allows two-thirds of the global population to reach using flights of eight hours or less. Dubai is a link between the West and the East. Moreover, Dubai is at the heart of the MEASA (Africa-Middle-East-Asia) triangle. A network hub to start a business. Furthermore, a pleasant business culture, business-friendly government, and high standard of living attract foreigners to start a business here. A friendly culture offers a wide range of advantages for the corporate structure. 

These advantages include a zero-tax regime. This means that there are no personal or corporate income taxes. Making Dubai a tax-free haven. In addition to being a tax-free haven, Jabel Ali, located in Dubai, is the world’s largest free zone. Better known as Jafza, it hosts over eight-thousand companies, and all companies hosted within the free zone are exempted from all taxation. This means that all business owners, especially foreigners have complete ownership of the business. 

Next, an unparalleled financial hub. This year, in the Fintech sector alone, the annual investment was US$125 Million. Making Dubai earn its rightful place in leading global business hubs. The low set-up cost attracts businessmen and businesswomen to start up their businesses in Dubai as opposed to other onshore jurisdictions. 

Correspondingly, Dubai offers a high, promising customer base, allowing a higher income per capita. Many resources are available for foreigners who want to start a business in Dubai. These resources range from workshops and events to countless guides and step-by-step instructions on the web. 

As a foreigner, there are a few limitations when it comes to starting a business. Albeit, the steps are clear and easy to follow, a foreigner starting a business in Dubai should, preferably, familiarize themselves with the customs set in place by the local businesses. Unfamiliarity comes to many; as an entrepreneur, it’s best to overcome this and gain an understanding of the start-up- steps to smooth out the process. 

Let’s discuss the steps to start a business in Dubai: 

It goes without saying that the first thing to complete in the start-up process is to register the name of the business. A picture is worth a thousand words, and a name is worth a million conversations. So it’s best to pick a memorable one. One that can easily market without profanity or blasphemy. 

Next, obtaining a business license. This is a crucial step; here, it should be stated clearly what activities the business will conduct, as this will determine what type of business/trade license is eligible. We can be utilized in this step of the process. PRO services aim to aid in processing governmental documents. Time is a precious resource, and PRO services save time that would have been spent standing in queues and waiting rooms for the processing and clearing of official documents in government or legal facilities. 

In order for foreigners to conduct business in Dubai, the next step is to obtain a visa. The issuance of a visa has a simple and straightforward process. A business owner can then sponsor the visas of immediate family members or any required team members. The number of sponsored visas is directly proportional to the size of the business. And finally, a bank account. It is a little difficult for foreigners to open up a business bank account because of the strict rules and regulations set by the UAE government regarding money laundering. Although, banks are now becoming more flexible facilities to aid in this process as well. A factor that makes doing business in Dubai worthwhile for foreigners is the low costs. 

Although many factors play a part in the full cost; for example, where the business is chosen to be set up, the number of employees, where the HQ will be if there is an HQ, purchasing the equipment, etc. 

The retail industry, for example, is cost-heavy and requires a higher front cost. Finally, after sending in all necessary information and documentation. As well as completing all legal formalities and proceedings. The license to do business can issue within three to four weeks. However, this is a relative number, the exact turnaround time depends on the number of approvals required and the activities that the business will conduct. 

To conclude, foreigners are welcomed and encouraged to start their entrepreneurial experience in Dubai. Where they can take advantage of tax-free haven, free zones, and a business supportive environment. Moreover, setting up a business is easy for expats, as many resources and organizations are readily available. Dubai offers not only a business-friendly environment but also a large number of opportunities to put the business out there so it can flourish.