Dubai is one of the most popular business environments in the world. A booming economy, strategic global location, and incredibly attractive tax regime have long made it a preferred destination for ambitious entrepreneurs from every corner of the globe. But even the bright lights and big city can be intimidating. For this reason, many entrepreneurs feel that to succeed in the Emirates, you need to have substantial start-up capital. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Dubai has a low-cost business setup system. The cost of setting up a business in Dubai is lower than in many major global cities, thanks to the lack of corporate and personal income tax and more accommodating business setup regulation.
Set up in a free zone, the cost of commercial setup will be even lower. However, whichever system you choose, registering a company in Dubai is very easy and can be completed in just a few simple steps.
How to start a business in Dubai with little or no money
The factor that has the biggest impact on the cost of setting up a company in the UAE is whether you choose a free zone or a mainland system.
While both can be achieved on a budget, the all-in-one nature of free zone systems makes it one of the most cost-effective ways to register a company in Dubai.
If budget is your primary concern, start by looking for the cheapest free zone that fits your needs. Aside from the price, there are many advantages to setting up in a free zone.
In addition to benefiting from the UAE’s zero percent tax rate, you can take advantage of full customs duty exemption, currency restrictions, and the ability to repatriate 100% of your capital and profits.
However, if you want to undertake government contracts or trade directly with the local UAE market, you will need to establish the main business. Depending on the nature and size of your business, this can be done more cost-effectively.
An organization development expert can help you determine the system that best fits your needs and your budget.
Setting up a business in the UAE
Regardless of your budget, the process of setting up a company in the UAE follows the same simple steps.
First, you need to establish your business setup functions. There are more than 2,000 approved by the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) covering all different sectors and sub-sectors.
However, while there may be a great selection of activities you can undertake, it is very important to list them correctly in your license application. Carrying out unlicensed business setup activities can lead to fines, so it is best to work with a company formation expert who can recommend the best options for your company.
Next, you need to choose a business name. This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s worth mentioning here because of the UAE’s strict naming conventions, which are not familiar to anyone outside the region.
Finally, you need to check if the name you have chosen is available for registration. Again, a company formation expert can help you with this step, make recommendations, and verify that the name you’ve chosen is free.
Making your license application
Now that you know the type of license you need, you can make your formal application. Free zone company registration in Dubai is incredibly straightforward and requires you to submit a completed application along with some basic documents about yourself and your company. Finally, you need to open a corporate bank account to run your business.
Opening a bank account in the UAE as a foreign national is not always easy. While there are many local and international banks to choose from in Dubai, they all have different application and acceptance criteria, and navigating them can be a minefield.
Working with a professional can help here as well. In addition to advising on the most suitable bank for your business, such companies can arrange meetings with financial institutions.
Starting your low-cost business in Dubai
The cost of business setup in Dubai varies depending on the size and nature of your business.
However, if you want to start on a budget here, it is doable.