The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federation of the 7 emirates of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain. In the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the economy of the UAE is the most diversified. A country that was once reliant on the export of its abundant oil reserves to run its economy now draws merely a minority of its GDP from the same, having taken to business and tourism for its economic progress. So much so, that the UAE is one of the biggest business hubs in the world, with its most populous city Dubai acting as a premier global city and a preferred destination for entrepreneurs, investors and tourists alike. All this has been possible as a result of the market-friendly economic policies of the UAE government over the last 3 decades, fostering foreign investment, sustainable development, innovation, and research.
If you are planning to start an eCommerce venture, you will have a different experience in the UAE. Firstly, you will need to apply to the Department of Economic Development in your Emirate. Secondly, you will have to get an eTrade license from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. In Abu Dhabi, this is the Tajer Abu Dhabi; in Dubai, it is known as a DED Traders Licence.
Starting a business in the Emirates is quite easy. In fact, almost anyone can do it. This is because the government offers many incentives for setting up a business there.
The main thing you should know is that most types of companies – apart from a sole proprietorship – require an Emirati partner that owns 51% of the business. After that, you must just go through the process of registering and licensing your business. In some cases, you may also need to meet minimum capital requirements.
The best part of starting a business in the UAE is Free Zones. These are unique areas that are popular with foreign investors. This is because they offer 0% corporation and personal tax, along with 100% foreign ownership and import and export tax exemptions.
If you are going to start a business in the UAE, you will need to get a visa to live and work in the country. For entrepreneurs, there are two types. Both a five-year and a 10-year visa are available without the need for sponsorship.
To get a five-year visa, there are two options. Firstly, you must have links to an existing project with a minimum capital of AED500,000. Secondly, you must have the approval of an accredited business incubator within the UAE.
The 10-year visa can be more difficult to get. Again, there are two options. With the first, you must deposit at least AED10 million in a public investment. Alternatively, you could also set up a company with at least AED10 million in capital or invest AED10 million in an existing company.
There are exceptions for people with special talents. For example, a 10-year visa may be granted to creative individuals with the approval of the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development.
If you are setting up a business in the UAE, you will first need to choose a trading name. Start by talking to your local Free Zone authority or the Department of Economic Development; they will be able to tell you if your name is acceptable. UAE laws state that trading names must not violate public morals, should not be previously registered, and must comply with the business’ required activity and legal status.
Once you have a name, you will need to apply for a business license. There are four types available on the UAE mainland, such as commercial, professional, industrial, and tourism.
If you work in a Free Zone, you will need to apply directly to the zone in question. This will depend on your business activity. For example, Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 deals mainly in creative industries such as graphic design, advertising, and app development. Conversely, Dubai’s DMCC focuses on energy, commodities, gold and diamonds, construction, healthcare, and shipping.
Registration and licensing are done at the same time. To register your business, you will need to apply to the relevant local authority or Free Zone. In addition, you will have to provide the following documents:
To complete licensing, you will also need to provide the following:
Additionally, you will need to register your business online with the Federal Tax Authority.
Alya Auditors can help you with the following business setup services in UAE:
Alya helps entrepreneurs and firms establish their companies through UAE company registration, incorporation, and legal consulting services. Our experts take care of the banking, visa, legal, and licensing formalities, in accordance with the UAE laws. We guide you through your company formation, with your business objectives at the center of our ecosystem, all the way.
If you are thinking of doing business in UAE, Alya can help you with strategic consultation, legal and documentation formalities, and negotiations with local stakeholders. We have liaisons that help us handle the entire company formation procedures cost-effectively in an efficient and timely manner. Contact us for business setup in UAE – our advisors will be glad to understand your requirements and fulfill them at the earliest.