How to Start a Business in U.A.E?

Starting a business in the UAE, or anywhere around the world for that matter requires careful planning and research. Deciding what business to start, incorporating it, and drafting all the required documentation takes concentrated effort and patience. That is why approaching experts is so crucial in setting up the company of your dreams.

Entrepreneurs have to worry about all sorts of things from budgeting to maintaining legal compliance. In this article, we will take a look at everything entrepreneurs need to know about starting a business in Dubai, or the UAE.

What to know before you start a business in the UAE

  1. First and foremost, entrepreneurs have to select a business activity to focus on and engage in through their company. Before they finalise on an option, the entrepreneurs must weigh several factors such as economic feasibility and capital requirements.

  2. The entrepreneurs must conduct thorough market research to ensure their chosen activity is sustainable and feasible. Conducting feasibility studies will also help them develop a strategic business plan.

  3. Once a business plan is ready, the entrepreneurs must choose the appropriate jurisdiction for their business. The three economic zones available to them are Mainland, Offshore and Freezone, and each of these offers a slew of benefits. Since they cater to different needs, choosing the right jurisdiction is an integral business decision.

  4. The next most important decision is deciding what company structure to incorporate as, and this requires careful research and planning with the help of legal experts.

  5. Once these things are in order, businesses must file for a company name approval with the Department of Economic Development. Since the proposed name must abide by Emirati company naming laws, it is best to take the help of a business consultancy service in the UAE.

What company registration options are available to entrepreneurs in the UAE?

Choosing the right business form for your company is an integral business decision, requiring a lot of planning. Also, since you need to know what legal structure you are before applying for any business or trade license, this is an early decision that significantly impacts further dealings. The most commonly used business structures in the UAE are as follows;

  • Limited Liability Company

  • Sole Establishment

  • Civil Company

  • Local Company Branch

  • GCC Company Branch

  • Foreign Company Branch

  • Free Zone Company Branch

  • Holding Companies

After choosing the appropriate company structure, business owners have to decide what business or trade licenses to apply for. Which license to apply for depends on the nature of your business operations and the trade zone your business is a part of. The four trade licenses that are most popular in the UAE are as follows;

  • Commercial License

  • Professional License

  • Industrial License

  • Tourism License

6 Steps of Starting a Business in Dubai and the UAE

Once you have decided the name and type of business structure for your company, all that remains is the company’s actual registration.

  1. The business owners will now have to file applications to the concerned government authorities regarding the permits they require. This is a precise process as it depends significantly on the nature of your business operations. One of the authorities you will have to approach include the Department of Economic Development.

  2. In case you wish to establish a UAE Mainland company, you will have to find a local partner or sponsor. The local partner must be an Emirati national, and they must hold at least 51% of such mainland companies. The two types of sponsorships allowed are local and corporate sponsorships. Business consultants can help you connect with a genuine and trustworthy sponsor.

  3. Next, the business owners will have to obtain all the required External Approvals from secondary government and non-government agencies. This step is also highly specific as the approvals required depend significantly on the line of work you wish to pursue. In most cases, entrepreneurs will have to obtain permits from banks, municipalities, and embassies.

  4. The last step in setting up a business in Dubai is getting the required documentation in order and using it to rent an office space for your business. Some of the most commonly required documents are the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Businesses can either rent a space for themselves or opt for a shared workspace depending on their requirements.

  5. The office space you get determines the number of employee visas you will receive so business owners must make sure they seek legal help if required. Once they finalise on a space, the owners will have to draft a tenancy contract and obtain the required Ejari documentation.

  6. To start operations, business owners will have to open a corporate bank account within the UAE. Once that is set up, businesses can start processing VISA applications for their employees.

Documents Required to start a business in Dubai

  1. Trade License application.

  2. Memorandum of Association

  3. Trade license application

  4. Relevant government forms

  5. Trade name reservation certificate

  6. Initial approval certificate from DED

  7. External approvals if required

  8. Tenancy contract

  9. EJARI registration certificate

  10. Passport copies of all partners

  11. NOC of partners, if required

  12. Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry Registration

  13. Endorsements from Governmental Agencies if required

  14. Approval from the UAE Central Bank for financial institutions

  15. Finance and Industry Ministry Certification, if needed

  16. Economy and Commerce Ministry Certification, if required

  17. Health Ministry Certification for medical businesses

Know more: how to register a company


Though the administrative and financial aspects of starting a company in Dubai can seem daunting, they are not too complicated. With the help of an experienced business consultancy service such as VakilSearch, entrepreneurs will be able to start the business of their dreams in no time!