Unlocking Success: A Comprehensive Guide to Setting Up a Business in Dubai [2024]

Considering setting up your business in Dubai this year? You're in the right place. Dubai's strong economy, strategic location, pro-business policies, and forward-thinking initiatives have earned it global recognition as a leading business destination.

Image of Dubai at Night

We cover all the essentials you need including the tax benefits, types of company, visas, banking and much more.

Table of contents

  • Why Dubai
  • Setup process
  • Business license types
  • Visas
  • Banking
  • More considerations
  • Conclusion

Why Dubai?

Exceptional Infrastructure 

Your business will benefit from Dubai's exceptional infrastructure, including top-notch facilities and amenities that support business growth and development. Modern office spaces, robust transportation networks, and reliable communications services facilitate smooth business operations for all industries including tourism, logistics, finance, and technology.

Strategic Location Advantage 

Dubai is strategically located to connect with global markets seamlessly, leveraging its world-class airports and seaports for import-export opportunities. Situated at the crossroads of major trade routes, Dubai offers unparalleled access to markets in the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and Africa.

Because of it's global position, it has recently become home of many of the world's major trade shows and expos.

Quality Lifestyle and Networking 

Dubai's multicultural environment fosters networking opportunities at every corner. Its cosmopolitan lifestyle attracts a diverse skilled talent pool from across the globe and collaboration among professionals from different backgrounds is common practice.

Meeting people to form new partnerships and generate fresh ideas in Dubai's business community can help your business flourish. Connecting with others in the community is important for business growth.

Additionally, Dubai's focus on quality living standards ensures a conducive environment for both work and leisure, supporting a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle for entrepreneurs and employees alike. 

Starting a Business in Dubai: Easy Company Setup Process 

Dubai makes it easy to start a business with a simple and efficient process. The process is has become more and more streamlined and transparent over the years, and is well supported by technology making it easier for entrepreneurs to establish their dream business regardless of your experience level.

The process involves selecting a company name and determining your business's activities. Certain activities may require additional licenses and approvals and this is something that Strive will advise on during the onboarding process.

Business License: Mainland vs Free Zone 

When setting up your business in Dubai, choosing the right company structure is pivotal. Options such as mainland LLC, and free zone company each have distinct advantages and legal considerations. The majority of businesses are allowed 100% foreign ownership with very few business activities require any local sponsorship.

A Mainland licence is considered the gold-standard license and is registered with the Dubai Economic Department (DED). Your business will be formed as a limited liability company (L.L.C) and in most cases will be 100% foreign owned. Most types of businesses can be registered as and L.L.C and the license will allow unrestricted trading with both local and international customers.

Read more about Mainland Companies in Dubai

Free zones in Dubai are a popular option instead of the mainland. They have benefits such as no customs fees, simple import-export procedures, and access to high-quality infrastructure. These areas in Dubai are ideal for companies with mostly international clients or those trading between free zones.

Many free zones available in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and other cities in the UAE and each has it's own benefits and unique selling points.

Read more about Free Zones in Dubai 

Another option is to create an Offshore company. This entity is a non-trading company that is commonly used to own assets such as real estate and shares.

Learn more about Offshore company setup in Dubai

Once your company is created, you are issued a trade license and establishment card which are essential documents. These must be renewed every year to maintain the validity of your company.

Dubai Residency Visa

Obtaining residency visas for yourself and your team is essential to allow you to live and operate your business operations smoothly. The Dubai residency visa process is straightforward for business owners, and is obtained when starting a company in the emirate. Most visas are issued with a 2 year duration and can be easily renewed on their anniversary by our team.

Additionally, we can easily obtain sponsor visas for your employees and dependant visas family.

Learn more about Dubai residency visas types

Business Banking

Opening a corporate bank account is a key requirement for operating a business in the UAE. Depending on the nature of your business, you may be applicable to one of a range of corporate banks accounts available from banks in the region.

Read more about business bank account setup in Dubai

Dubai Tax Incentives

The UAE has some of the world's best tax benefits and incentives, making it a fantastic place for entreprenuers. Unlike many other countries, the UAE imposes no personal income tax making it an attractive destination for entreprenuers.

New corporate tax rules in 2023 require some businesses to pay up to 9% tax on certain activities. However, overall tax laws in the area promote economic growth and investment. 

Learn more about Dubai corporate tax

More Considerations

Intellectual Property Protection and Branding 

Protecting your intellectual property (IP) and building a strong brand presence are paramount for long-term success. Dubai offers robust IP protection mechanisms, including trademark registration, patent filing, and copyright enforcement. By securing your innovations and branding assets, you safeguard your competitive advantage and enhance market recognition, fostering trust and loyalty among customers and stakeholders. 

Financial Compliance and HR

New standards brought in from 2023 require all businesses to maintain clear financial records. All businesses are required to register for corporation tax and file annual accounts

The UAE has labour laws that must be adhered to when employing staff in the UAE. This includes issuing employee contracts, insurance, and handling payroll and benefits.

Business Insurance

It is a requirement for your new business to have the relevant insurances based on the industry you are in. At minimum, most businesses require indemnity insurance but can also require public liablility cover.

Contracts, Agreements, and Legal Documentation 

Drafting comprehensive contracts, agreements, and legal documentation is essential for clarifying rights, obligations, and expectations in business relationships and this is no different in the UAE. Many legal experts are available in Dubai that can assist with ensuring your business is protected.

Conclusion: How to open a company in Dubai

Opening a company in Dubai can be daunting but is often a feasible choice for most business owners due to ease of setup, strong economic benefits, excellent legal system and favourable tax incentives.

Strive offers an end-to-end solution for entreprenuers looking to start a business in the most efficient way, saving you time and money. Strive is also a Xero Accounting and Bayzat Outsourced HR partner and can assist with all of your requirements.

Book in a call with our expert team to setup your business in Dubai.

Explore more

Navigating the Dubai Terrain: Choosing Between Free Zones and Mainland Onshore Companies for Your Business

Embarking on a business venture is an exhilarating journey filled with anticipation and decision-making. One of the pivotal decisions that entrepreneurs face is choosing the right jurisdiction for setting up their company. This choice can significantly influence the business's operational dynamics, growth trajectory, and financial health. In regions where the option exists, the dilemma often boils down to selecting between free zones and mainland onshore companies. Each option offers distinct advantages and challenges, making it essential to approach this decision with a comprehensive understanding and strategic foresight.