Economic Overview

Dubai at a Glance

Dubai is one of seven emirates that make up the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Dubai’s formula for development was becoming evident to everyone – visionary leadership, high-quality infrastructure, an expatriate-friendly environment, zero tax on personal and corporate income and low import duties. As a result, Dubai quickly became a business and tourism hub for a region that stretches from Egypt to the Indian sub-continent and from South Africa to the CIS countries.

In the 1980s and early 1990s, Dubai took a strategic decision to become a leading international tourism destination. It is now known throughout the world for its luxury hotels, remarkable architecture, world-class entertainment and sporting events.

Such an impressive rise has led to the city being ranked as the top foreign direct investment destination by the FDI magazine of the Financial Times. According to FDI Intelligence, in 2011 while many economies were coming to terms with the result of the global financial crisis, Dubai attracted overseas investment for a total of 273 projects worth USD 6.3 billion, creating more than 15,260 new jobs in the process.

Dubai is home to more than 20,000 international companies, including offices from 124 of the Fortune 500.

In terms of its economic performance Dubai (and the UAE in general) has been the most successful economy within the GCC region for diversifying away from oil.



  • The Business Confidence Index for Dubai for Q2, 2014 stands at 112.2 points, indicating that the overall business outlook is lower when compared with the same period last year (120.7) as well as with the last quarter i.e. Q1, 2014 (135.5).
  • Sales revenues – outlook has marginally strengthened, but have deteriorated compared to the last quarter; 45% of the firms expect an increase in sales revenues during Q3, 2014 compared to 63% and 43% predicting an increase in Q2, 2014 and Q3, 2013, respectively.
  • Hiring - there is a small improvement, but in moderation when compared to the previous quarter. 22% of the firms expect to increase their staff count during Q3, 2014 for new projects, compared to 16% in Q3, 2013 and 30% in Q2, 2014.
  • Exporters - are more confident in their outlook compared to Dubai’s overall business community, with corresponding BCIs of 118.6 and 112.2. Exporters are more optimistic on sales volumes and profits, but have a weaker position for employment.
  • Have an approved location


License indicators

Commercial License Growth

Statistics show that the total number of licenses issued in Q1, 2014 increased by 16% to 5,391 licenses compared to Q1 2013. The tourism licenses have had the majority share of this growth with 29% followed by the commercial licenses with 21% and the industrial licenses with 3%. The professional licenses, however, remained the same unchanged compared to Q1, 2013. This indicates a positive improvement in business environment during this period.


Permits and Licenses

Description Q1. 2013 Q1. 2014 Change (%)
Total number of licenses issued 4,666 5,391 16%
Commercial 3,313 4,024 21%
Professional 3,313 1,240 0%
Industrial 62 64 3%
Tourism 49 63 29%
Total number of renewed licenses 29,893 28,215 -6%
Total number of amended licenses 19,721 20,340 3%
Total number of amended licenses 1,191 920 23%


Licenses issued by type:

Commercial licenses account for 71% of the total number of licenses issued in Q1 2014 followed by the professional licenses (27%), then tourism and industrial licenses (1%) for both of them.


Transactions Clearance:

Statistics show that the total number of transactions clearance applications dropped by 13% to 140,342 transactions in Q1 2014 compared to the same period last year. The total renewed dropped by 6% to 28,215 licenses and the amended licenses increased slightly by 3% to reach 20,340 licenses compared to the 1st quarter last year.

Trade names:

Reserved trade names hit 21,807 increasing by 17%, while the initial approvals increased by 20% to reach 9,974 compared to the 1st quarter last year.

Cancelled Licenses:

The total number of cancelled licenses dropped by 23% to 920 licenses in Q1, 2014 compared to the same period last year. Among the total cancelled licenses, the cancelled tourism licenses recorded the lowest rate with negative 30%, while the cancelled industrial licenses recorded the highest rate with positive 17% by the end of Q1, 2014.


Document Clearing

Setting up a company is never easy and going through the document clearing process yourself can be especially difficult and time consuming. This is why How2uae provide specialist document clearing services to take care of all your paperwork requirements and get the job done for you twice as fast and without stress. Whether you’re a new company starting out and not knowing where to begin, or an existing business that have come up against a roadblock that you need some assistance with, our team are able to help.

How2uae are able to provide support with a wide spectrum of government related document services, including:

  • Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Social Affairs
  • Dubai Naturalisation and Residence Departments
  • Ministry of Finance and Industry
  • Dubai Municipality
  • Ports and Customs
  • Dubai Economic Department
  • Dubai Courts
  • Translation services
  • Health card services

Please contact us to find out more about what we can offer here.


Professional/PRO Services

Without the right knowledge about the business and legal operating environment in the UAE, what seem like simple and straightforward processes and procedures can incur significant delays. This may unnecessarily hold up your business, overall efficiency and performance. Whether you’re a large corporation that needs to complete a variety of recruitment needs and visa transactions within tight timeframes, or a single consultant looking for a quick and simple solution, the How2uae team offers a customised PRO solution to save you time, money and hassle.

Our dedicated PRO team is equipped with a detailed understanding of the UAE laws and requirements. They can provide assistance with any issues you have with all the main Government departments, including: the Ministry of Labour; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Dubai Economic Department (DED); Dubai Municipality; Department of Naturalisation and Residency, and; Chamber of Commerce etc.

Specific PRO services we are able to provide include:

  • Foreign affairs attestation/notary services
  • Visa services
  • Legal translation
  • Car registration
  • Immigration card
  • Labour Establishment card
  • E-signature cards