Dream to Set Up Business in the UAE?

Mind you, you’re not dreaming this dream alone. There are many who want to set up a business in the UAE, and that’s because of one simple reason - Incredible Growth. 

The type of growth that UAE has seen and represented in the last few years is not just commendable, it’s investment-able. And we have numbers to prove its worth.

  • In 2019, foreign direct investment (FDI) inward flows in the United Arab Emirates amounted to US$17.87bn.
  • The businesses registered are forecast to amount in the United Arab Emirates of 3.19k in 2025.
  • In 2025, the total investment in the United Arab Emirates is forecast to amount to US$100.80bn.

Striding as one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, let’s get into the nitty gritties of what you need to know about setting up a business in the UAE.

I am A Resident but Not A UAE National

If you fall under this category, you probably know all the ins and outs of the country’s business terms. However, it certainly won’t hurt to hit refresh on your memory. Let’s go through the step-by-step process of setting up a business in the UAE.

  1. Business Type: There are several types of business entities in the UAE, including a limited liability company (LLC), a free zone company, and a branch office. An LLC is the most common type of company in the UAE, and it requires a minimum of two shareholders and a maximum of 50. A free zone company is located in one of the many free zones in the UAE, which offer 100% foreign ownership, no customs duty, and no corporate tax for up to 50 years. A branch office is an extension of a foreign company and requires a local sponsor.
  2. Administrative Procedures: Once you have decided on the type of company to set up. You need to obtain a trade license, register the company with the relevant authorities, and open a bank account.
  3. Company Name: You need to make sure your company name is in adherence with the laws of the UAE. This includes:
  • The name must not violate the public morals or the public order of the country
  • Must be followed by the legal form of the company, for example (LLC, FZE, etc.)
  • Must be compatible with the required type of activity and legal status
  • Should not contain names of any religion, or governing authority, nor names or logos of any external bodies
  • Must not have been previously registered

I am A Foreigner with No Physical Presence in the UAE

If you identify with the above stated status, there’s good news. You can still make your dream of setting up a business in the UAE come alive.

How? Let’s get into it.

The process is almost similar to what we shared above.The only difference being, you need to choose a reliable and trustworthy local agent/sponsor who has a good reputation in the local business community. This will give you an upper hand with the target market apart from all the help you can get in setting up your business initially (the registration, the name, the bank account, etc.).

P.S - You can find local agents/sponsors through local business directories, online forums, and networking events.

Once you have appointed a local agent/sponsor, you can start running your business from your home country. You can communicate with your local agent/sponsor through email, phone, or video conferencing, and you can manage your business remotely using online tools such as cloud-based accounting software and project management tools.

To ensure that your business is running smoothly, you need to stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and changes in the UAE business environment. You can do this by subscribing to local business publications, attending local business events, and consulting with your local agent/sponsor.

The Challenges & The Solutions

One of the challenges of running a business remotely is building a strong team culture and maintaining effective communication with your employees. To overcome this challenge, you can use online collaboration tools such as video conferencing, project management tools, and instant messaging apps to stay connected with your team and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Another challenge is managing your finances remotely. To ensure that your finances are in order, you can hire a local accountant who can manage your books and file your taxes in compliance with local regulations.

In conclusion, running a business in the UAE without being physically present there is possible, but it requires careful planning, a reliable local agent/sponsor, and a willingness to adapt to the local business environment. With the right strategy and tools, you can build a successful business in the UAE from the comfort of your home country.