How to setup your business in Dubai? Company Setup Made Easy.

After living in Dubai for a number of years there are the inevitable questions that you always seemed to get asked by newcomers and people from back home. They can usually be answered in the same way…
– Yes, it’s hot.
– I’m from the UK and I’ve lived here for ten years.
– No, not everybody has a pet tiger on their passenger seat whilst driving.

In a professional context the question I usually get asked is-What’s the easiest way to setup my company in Dubai?

You basically have two options- do it yourself (DIY) or in the land of pet taxis and ATM’s that dispense gold bullion- you can pay somebody else to do it for you. Let’s not forget Dubai is a sprawling Emirate with dozens of nationalities/languages and opportunities. This smorgasbord of potential can lead to some areas of confusion.
Obviously depending on your business; either selling yoga mats from home or setting up a business consultancy in a Free Zone, you will have different requirements.
The easiest option is not necessarily the cheapest, quickest or most appropriate solution to your business setup. If you do not setup your company taking into account all considerations, this could halt your company setup legalities.
The UAE Ministry of Economy has recently extended the deadline for compliance with the new Commercial Companies Law.
This gives a bit of breathing space existing companies to become familiar with the new requirements.

Do your research

For people who are certain that they are ready to start a business now, there are a number of questions you should ask yourself.
– What is my business activity? This may sound obvious but you need to decide on whether you are a consultancy, a trading company- online or retail based for example. Do you want to conduct business in the UAE or only outside of the country? All of this will impact on whether you should choose Onshore, Free Zone or Offshore. This is a vital part of the company setup process as it could affect your banking compliance procedures.
– Do you have an idea of location? This is important depending on your requirements for a visa, ownership types and if you need an office or warehouse. The prices can vary greatly depending on your location.
– Do you want to have 100% ownership? If so, you will need an appropriate Free Zone.
– Do you need a local sponsor/partner? If so you will need to identify your specific requirements and find a UAE national to be your partner.
– Do you need a visa? You may not need to live in Dubai or you may need several visas for your family. This can only be done after your commercial license has been issued. Your local sponsor will need to be involved if you are doing it for the first time.

Other things to consider
I’ve only covered a few of things you need to consider when setting up a business in Dubai or the UAE. There are hundreds of other articles which give advice on moving to the region and I am sure you can ask friends or other people already there for advice. We do recommend however, that you find a company setup consultant to assist you with any questions, that you may have.

Just a few things to remember if you are moving to Dubai to start your own business
– Do your homework and consider some of the things I have mentioned.
– The rules and regulations differ depending on where you are. There are thousands of different types of activity and also dozens of specialized Free Zones. Dubai Flower Free Zone anyone?
– Be prepared for it to take some time. Whilst Dubai is a modern and efficient centre for business, it’s not London, Berlin or Shanghai. There are many cultural differences that need to be respected and complied with. You need to become familiar with the fact that 2pm is not always 2pm and yes does not always mean yes.
– Do not sign with a local sponsor without an agreed upon written contract.
– Do make sure of the specific laws concerning your area and activity of choice. An office is mandatory in certain areas and this is going to incur more costs.
– Some areas and activities require a minimum capital investment to act as a form of liability.
– Factor in other things such as staffing, bank accounts and utility bills.
Once you are sure of all the above, double check them again as the rules can change and certain nationalities may have restrictions.

At the end of the day, if you are unsure, speak to a professional. You should be able to get a free consultation from a company formation specialist. As a business owner, the last thing that you should be worried about is your company setup process. Leave it to the professionals and focus on generating profits for your business.

I hope this hasn’t been too scary if you are considering Dubai for a business.  The best advice I can give is to be realistic about the process. If you are unsure of your options and need some help please feel free to contact us at