A guide on how to start a business in Dubai

Are you an entrepreneur looking to start a business in Global hub? Dubai might just be the perfect destination for you. Renowned for its strategic location, robust infrastructure, and business friendly environment, Dubai offers plenty of opportunities for ambitious individuals seeking to turn the entrepreneurial dream into reality.In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to start your own venture in this dynamic city.

Why Dubai ?

Did you know that Dubai now ranks 21st in the world amongst the top global commercial centers Being a rapidly growing commercial hub has its own perks, especially for the new companies looking for a growth base.

Dubai offers pro-business governmental policies as well as a liberal regulatory environment that makes the ‘City of Gold’ one of the top-notch venues in the world to conduct business.Dubai business opportunities are enormous & diversified, which has brought this commercial hub on the global front. The region has also established itself as a great economic force, attracting more investors to set up their businesses here.

Dubai’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa makes it an ideal gateway for businesses looking to access markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region and beyond. With world-class amenities, excellent connectivity, and a diverse talent pool, Dubai provides an unparalleled environment for business growth and success.

Choosing the Right Setup: Free Zone vs. Mainland

One of the first decisions on setting up a business in dubai is to decide if you want the business to be in the mainland or free zone. Each option provides its own set of advantages and considerations. 

Local OwnershipIt requires 51% local ownership, but you retain full control over the businessUnlike regular businesses in the UAE, a Freezone company allows full ownership without the need for a local sponsor.
Trade FlexibilityA mainland company can conduct trade within any city in the UAE and also with foreign companies.Freezone companies can trade freely with countries outside the UAE and with other Freezones, facilitating international business.
Physical Office spaceIt must have a physical office location registered with Ejari and obtain necessary approvals from other essential authorities.These companies have the option of having a physical or virtual business location, tailored to their specific operational needs.
Visa EligibilityIt must have a physical office location registered with Ejari and obtain necessary approvals from other essential authorities.There are some restrictions on the number of visas a Freezone company can apply for, usually limited to 6-7 visas.
Company AuditThere are no restrictions on the number of visas allowed, but the company must expand office space if it requires additional visas.While some Freezones may not require a financial audit, others may follow rules set by the regulating body
Capital PrerequisiteA financial audit is obligatory for a mainland company. External Approvals: Setting up a mainland business requires approvals from various UAE authorities.Freezone companies don’t need approvals from UAE regulating bodies or ministries. Instead, they must obtain approval from the Freezone’s regulating body, which can be an independent entity or a government body
Approvals related to business setupIn order to be registered as a mainland company, the business requires approval from the Department of Development, Labour Ministry and the Department of Naturalization and Residency. Besides these, the company may require more approvals from related authorities if they wish to operate in health, education or food related sectors.Free zone companies have it easier in terms of approval. If they are only exporting or re-exporting then they do not require any sort of outside approval. However, if they wish to partake in special services then they might require external approval.

Setting Up Your Business:

Once you’ve decided on the right setup for your business, it’s time to navigate the process of incorporation. Here’s a step-by-step overview:

  • Choose a Business Name: Select three preferred name for your business and submit them for approval. Your company’s name will typically end with “DMCC” or “DMCC Branch.”
  • Pre-Approval Documents: Prepare and submit the necessary documents for pre-approval, including KYC forms, passports, proof of address, business plans (if required), and consultant appointments if applicable.
  • Registration Documents: After pre-approval, submit additional registration documents, including specimen signature forms, shareholders’ resolutions, memorandum, articles of association, and payment for registration fees.
  • Provisional Approval: Upon submission of all required documents, you’ll receive provisional approval from the DMCC, along with a bank letter.

Business Visa in Dubai: Requirements

  • Age: 18 years and above
  • Hold a valid passport of country of residence with at least 6 month’s validity
  • Present confirmed airline/return ticket copy, itinerary as well as departure within 30 days of visa expiration
  • Provide valid bank statements showing proof of investments along with sufficient funds to support their stay in Dubai
  • Present proof of accommodation for your UAE stay
  • Offer letter of intent for your visit from your employer (e.g., Conferences, projects, upskilling, etc.)
  • Present a copy of professional qualifications or educational certificates
  • Present a copy of business registration certificate & company trade license if applicable

    Once the necessary requirements are met, entrepreneurs can proceed with their business visa application in Dubai.

Dubai business visa: Documents required

  • Duly filled UAE visa application form
  • Valid passport copy, valid for at least 6-months
  • Passport photograph against white background (2; recent)
  • Invitation letter from UAE sponsor
  • Letter from employer declaring salary & job description
  • Copy of residence permit (if already living in the UAE)

How much will a business visa in Dubai cost?

The respective fees for the UAE business visa depend on the type of visa, the duration, as well as the emirate.

  • Cost of Dubai business visa: Approximately AED 3,500 to AED 5,500*
  • Business visa in Abu Dhabi: Around AED 4,000 to AED 8,500*
  • UAE Visit visas: Around AED 350 to AED 600* depending on duration of stay (should not exceed more than 60 days in the UAE) 






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