Entrepreneurial Tips for Starting a Business in Dubai

There are so many reasons to start your enterprise in Dubai. First of all, you get quite favorable terms for repatriation of your funds. Second, it’s a massive aviation hub, seeing as how the majority of flights tend to land in Dubai. Third, it’s a growing economy and it’s a country that has entrepreneur-centric policies in order to attract capital from all over the world. For the most part, it’s been working quite flawlessly. With that in mind and without further ado, here are several tips to help you exploit this opportunity and start your own business in Dubai.

1.      Knowledge of which industries are forbidden in the country

Seeing as how Dubai is a city in the UAE, it is deeply affected by some laws of the country. This means that there are some industries that might be standard in your homeland, yet, forbidden in Dubai. For instance, there’s a whole list of goods that you can’t legally import in Dubai, ranging from breeding swine, all the way to compressed tobacco and ivory. Sure, some of these items you didn’t have the intention of working with, in the first place, but it’s always worth consulting the list before making a grievous mistake.


2.      Understanding zones of jurisdiction

The next thing you need to understand about Dubai is the complexity of its legal system, seeing as how it will affect your registration, the way in which you pay taxes and several other vital aspects of your business. From the perspective of a business, there are three zones of jurisdiction in Dubai and figuring out which one of them suits you the most might be the first business decision that you’ll face here. Here, you have a mainland, offshore and free zone. Each of them has its own set of rules and requirements for you to handle.

3.      Shareholder structure

This is a step that you’ll have to make whenever you decide to start a business, regardless of its location. Namely, you have several different shareholder structures to choose from, based on which you’ll determine the ownership of your company. For instance, you can register as a Limited Liability Company, sole proprietorship, general partnership or a public/private shareholding company. Overall, this will determine the governance of the company, as well as the way in which you’re supposed to pay taxes. All in all, it’s an issue worth addressing as early as possible.

4.      Reliable local partner

It’s usually for the best if you were to find someone who is knowledgeable about the local business laws and business world to help you set up and run your business. Finding a reliable local business partner is the best course of action but collaborating with a person that you don’t know personally usually isn’t that great or safe of an idea. This is why it’s safer to go for an agency that specializes in setting up a business in Dubai and check what kind of services they have to offer. Also, you’ll have an easier job of vetting an agency and checking for their success rate than you would with an individual entrepreneur.

5.      Learning the local business etiquette

On the one hand, Dubai is a city that’s rapidly becoming a true globalist metropolis. Nevertheless, don’t let the westernized architecture and dressing code of some of its inhabitants fool you. As we’ve already mentioned, UAE and Dubai are a world of their own and, like any other region, they have some unique rules of conduct and business etiquette. For instance, there’s a great emphasis on punctuality and modesty of one’s apparel. Also, even though Dubai is a major business hub and, therefore, a huge melting pot, it’s still a nice gesture to have your business cards in both English and Arabic. This alone can make a massive difference in your first impression.


Just because starting a business in Dubai has its advantages, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be granted a free success card. You still need to have a great business idea (and properly validate it), a business plan, as well as enough money to put all of this into action. While migrating your business to Dubai may give you some relevant advantages, the truth remains that you still have to work hard for your success and use any opportunity to gain a competitive edge. Knowing these five tips may help you out on this quest.

Carolin Petterson is a businesswoman and content marketer with years of experience under her belt. She has had the opportunity to contribute to a number of popular business and marketing websites.