UAE incorporated businesses have a legal responsibility to maintain compliance with all forms of government legislation from a variety of agencies as they apply to the market sector they operate within. This is partly down to the incredible rapid expansion in commercial enterprise in the region due its dynamic and attractive business environment, and the need to ensure that expansion remains sustainable.

To maintain that sustainability, each new business must comply with a set of standards pertaining to the market sector, with each jurisdiction having their own rules and regulations to suit. On the surface this seems overly intrusive for business, but the reality is that they are simple to follow, clearly written and mostly what most would consider best practice anyway.

The basics of compliance for a business in Dubai are:

  • Having the appropriate business licence and company registration number
  • Ensuring that the business operates within the correct jurisdictions
  • Ensuring that all employees have the correct employment permits
  • Ensuring that the correct permits to carry out the desired activity are in place
  • Have an approved location to operate including a registered business address

These all seem straightforward, and indeed they are. However this does not mean that compliance is a trivial matter, with fines ranging from AED 250 to as much as AED 20,000, and compliance officers making regular unannounced checks, the consequences of non-compliance can be severe.

When registering a business with the DED, they will usually inform you of any further permits or licenses that may be required, depending on the activities of the planned business, but it is always useful to be informed and find out in advance what the requirements will be.

Licences are not issued lightly, and the process involves several stages of approval, and this can add up to a significant cost, as such being able to meet all requirements before the application is submitted is essential to a cost effective business launch. The license evaluations have four main criteria, whether any activity proposed is harmful to human beings, harmful to animal life, harmful to plant life or harmful to the environment. The more likely a business activity is to fall into one of these criteria, the longer the appraisal proves for licence issuance will be. Luckily, when the incorporation proposal is submitted, the DED will advise on the likely timetable for approval of any applicable licenses involved.