20 Unique Business Ideas in Dubai to Kick-start Your Entrepreneurship Career

by Zaara 28, Feb 2017

20 Unique Business Ideas in Dubai to Kick-start Your Entrepreneurship Career

Dubai is a city of opportunities, it is the land of prosperity and it welcomes visitors with open arms. For decades people from all over the world have been visiting Dubai with a hope to make their dreams come true.

From broad diversity in population to a thriving economy, from foreign-friendly culture to relaxed business rules, Dubai has something for everybody.

Dubai is the favourite destination of businessmen from around the world. The government has flexible foreign business setup policies and modern infrastructural facilities. All these factors make Dubai the haven for entrepreneurs-the young and the seasoned.

Gone are the days, when the Middle East, especially, the UAE was all about oil and petrochemical industries. Today there are world-class investment opportunities in Dubai. Starting a venture in the City of Gold can be in any manner. You can have an online business in Dubai or a small business in Dubai as a brick and mortar shop.

Today, we take a deep dive into possible areas to set up your Dubai business, whereas as a budding entrepreneur, you can invest time and money to make your business grow.

List of Business Opportunities in Dubai in 2021

1. E-Commerce

The wave of e-commerce has spread around the world and has not spared the UAE as well. In the case of Dubai, the market is as lucrative as any. It is estimated that the e-commerce sector in the UAE will be valued at $10 billion (Dh36.7 billion) by the end of 2018. Research conducted by Google reveals that 91.9% of the population in the UAE has internet access. And with a number of online businesses growing, big e-commerce giants operating offshore accounts in Dubai, it would be advised to think about the e-commerce industry in Dubai.

Requirements to start an online business in Dubai includes –

  • Valid ecommerce license
  • Bank account
  • E-commerce website
  • Banking and payment gateway

2. Tourism

Dubai is a global hub for tourism. From the Dubai shopping festival that happens every year to bedazzled markets of gold and international fashion, Dubai is a fashion destination for globetrotters. Tourists love the beaches of Dubai and its dazzling nightlife. Travel and Tourism industry has a substantial contribution towards UAE’s GDP figures. Based on 2016 statistics, the total contribution was AED 150 billion – GDP’s 12.1%. The industry supports more than 300,000 direct jobs in the UAE – 5.4% of overall employment. With these figures in mind, you can look into running a travel agency in Dubai to assist travellers with all the formalities like visa, cruise boats, and hospitality.

Requirements to setup a tourism business in Dubai includes –

  • Choose the type of travel agency license
  • Gather required documents
  • Meet all the special conditions
  • Submit the application and pay fees

3. Restaurant Business

Where there is world culture, there is world cuisine. Whether it is the eat streets in Deira or the rooftop dining on Dubai marina, people love every bit of it. The lively city is presently home to the second-highest number of restaurants (2,935 food and beverage outlets) per million residents, and these eateries are making good bank. The most recent reports estimate that the UAE restaurant sector’s earnings will surge to $29.3 billion by 2020. It will be a good idea to invest in the restaurant business to tantalize the taste buds.

The requirements to setup a restaurant business in Dubai are –

  • Business plan
  • Restaurant license
  • Food license from Food Safety Department
  • Application for Food code

4. Retail

The Dubai Chamber Analysis estimates a 5% growth for the Dubai Retail Business Sector over the next 5 years. There is also an improvement in the e-commerce activities in Dubai with a 19 % progress and AED 5.5 billion worth of sales recorded in 2018.

The robust demand for retail business is fuelled by the international visitors spend, high-frequency of mega-sales, shopping festivals, and growing e-commerce activity. Yes, retail is here to stay. Whether it is a small mom and pop store, your own store or running a franchise, with strong economic conditions and fast-moving ex-pat crowd, the retail business is a lucrative option.

The requirements to open a retail shop are –

  • Business license and registration
  • Business jurisdiction
  • Shop on rent
  • Added paperwork and PRO

5. Consulting

Consultancy is big business. The worldwide consultancy market is worth a projected USD 250bn. In this part of the world, the industry is just as healthy. The GCC’s management consulting market alone is worth around USD 2.8bn. Business consultant in Dubai like Commitbiz guides entrepreneurs from around the world to set base in Dubai and the rest of the UAE. But it is important to have in-depth business expertise and local knowledge to venture into something like this.

The requirements to setup a consulting business are –

  • Choosing a trade name
  • Applying for license
  • Applying for visa

6. Education

Dubai international academic city is the world’s largest free zone dedicated to higher education. An industry worth USD 4.4bn in 2017 is expected to grow to USD 7.1bn by 2023. Within that vast market are a wide array of business from tutors and coaches to educational tool creators, curriculum planners and academies and institutes. The education sector is well-respected internationally, ranking 17th in the world for overall quality. In case you have an academic background, you can invest in careers education and training.

The requirements to setup an education institute are –

  • Selecting the Right Business Activities
  • Decide on the Company Name
  • Choose the right Business Jurisdictions
  • Choose the Right Company Structure
  • Get the Required Clearance from KHDA
  • Submit the Application Form and Documents Required
  • Visa Application and Bank Account Opening

7. Jewelry Design

The jewellery market in the UAE is expected to reach 12 billion dirhams by 2020. Dubai is a world gold destination. Dubai leads the UAE jewellery market as tourists find it economical than their home countries due to low taxes and a superb range of exquisite jewellery. On the wholesale front, Dubai exports its jewellery to 200 countries across the globe. For the upmarket options, there is Dubai Gold and Diamonds Park and then there is the prestigious Gold Souk. You can even start your own line of jewellery brand in Dubai.

The requirements to open a jewellery business are –

  • Setting Up in the Right Jurisdiction
  • DMCC Licensing Process
  • DED Licensing Process

8. Recruitment Agency

At any given point in time, the inflow of foreign workers in Dubai is huge. According to a leading recruitment agency, activity in the GCC region increased in 2018 in comparison to the year before. The same study found that 70% of UAE employers planned to hire last year. People want to move in here and start working in a number of industries like trading, medicine, tourism, oil, real estate, it would be a good idea to start a recruitment agency and handle manpower recruitment for business based in Dubai.

The requirements to open a recruitment agency are –

  • Choose a company name making sure that it complies with the UAE’s naming criteria
  • Apply for a recruitment license
  • With your license application made, you can apply for your UAE visa
  • Finally, you can now apply to open a corporate bank account

9. Marketing & Advertising

The digital marketing industry has seen growth unlike any other in recent years. Last year, digital marketing spending in the US and Britain rose to USD 52bn. That put the global digital marketing spend at around USD 100bn.

Here in the UAE, the pattern is much the same with the digital marketing industry seeing annual growth of anywhere between 25% and 40% according to estimates. A lot of newly established business firms look for marketing and advertising options both online and offline. Opening up a marketing agency is a viable option for creative minds. Digital marketing, website development, and campaign management are a few types of marketing activities that you can look into as a marketing agency.

The requirements to open a marketing and advertising agency are –

  • Educate Yourself
  • Do Competitor Research
  • Make a Business Plan
  • Build a Portfolio
  • Have a Social Media Presence

10. Event Management Company

The UAE, and in particular Dubai, is one of the event capitals of the world. Events are a huge business here. So much so that Dubai World Trade Centre events and exhibitions alone are estimated to contribute some USD 3.3bn to the economy. Within that, the emirate’s event management industry is understandably booming. As of 2016, the Dubai event management industry was estimated to be worth USD 45m with an annual growth since 2013 of 25%.

This is a viable option for being a strong economic hub; there are a lot of business exhibitions, workshops and conferences happening in Dubai all the time. Many private events like weddings, baby showers etc. can also come under the scope of an events management company.

The requirements to open an event management company are –

  • Trade name approval
  • Initial Approval from DED.
  • For specific event locations like beaches / public parks, you might need approval from DTCM / Dubai Municipality (DM) as well Dubai Police.

11. Health & Fitness

In 2016 the UAE’s fitness industry was projected to be worth $380 million according to a report published by Statista. So, if you are the one into fitness and have the necessary qualifications to run your own fitness centre, then this is a good option. But be ready to work really hard as you will build your clientele, slowly over time. But once it’s done, get ready to mint a lot of money.

Requirements to setup a health and fitness industry in Dubai are –

  • Approvals from Juvenile and Sports Welfare Authority
  • Health Department and
  • The Emirates Bodybuilding and Weightlifting Committee
  • Apart from these, you must be older than 21 years old to apply for a gym license in Dubai.
  • You must also submit a partnership memorandum and a signed lease to the designated authorities.

12. Insurance Broking

Did you know that health and car insurance is mandatory in Dubai? This has opened up the space for insurance widely. The insurance industry in the UAE is projected to grow at 4.2 per cent CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) between 2019 and 2024. This development is accredited to increased opportunities for a retrieval in economic growth along with the continuation of new major projects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other emirates. A number of insurance companies have their branches here. You can register yourself as a broker and/or start your own booking agency and ensure people and their expensive cars.

The following are other requirements which must be met to obtain a UAE insurance brokerage licence:

  • A Letter of Guarantee produced by a bank must be provided along with the professional indemnity insurance policy in favour of the IA.
  • The appointment of the appropriate technical and administrative staff required for company operations.
  • Provision of a suitable headquarters, software and technical systems necessary to carry out the company activities.
  • The company must have systems in place to ensure the proper application of laws, regulations, instructions, resolutions and circulars issued by the IA.
  • Submission of the agreement between the licence applicant and a UAE bank, with details of the account designated to the practice of Insurance Brokerage.
  • Full payment of the prescribed fees must be made and the company must meet any additional conditions or requirements made by the IA.

13. Cleaning Services

Cleaning Businesses in the UAE are in huge demand especially nowadays when new business setups are mushrooming everywhere. The cleaning service business providers generate 35% of their revenue from the corporate sector which is said to increase to 45% in the upcoming year! This can be applied to one-time house cleaning or hotel and restaurant cleaning. Depending on your preferred model, you can have your own team of cleaners and set up your cleaning agency.

The requirements to setup a cleaning agency are –

  • Choose your business activity from DED’s list of activities
  • Select the corporate entity for your business. This will be either a sole proprietorship, a civil company, or an LLC
  • Get business name approval for one of the 3 name options submitted
  • Get the Initial Approval
  • Prepare and sign the LSA Agreement (for Professional license) or MOA (for Commercial license)
  • Rent a physical office and submit the tenancy contract along with the Ejari. A Dubai mainland company must have a physical office location
  • Submit the additional approvals, if any
  • Pay the fees and collect the business license

14. Fashion Boutique

Are you a fashionista with a keen sense of the fashion scene in the Middle East and an entrepreneurial mind-set? If yes, then starting your own boutique can transform into a profitable venture. The famous and popular of the UAE love to shop for the latest fashion trends and your boutique can be their one-stop.

The requirements to open a fashion boutique are –

  • Confirm the boutique business activities and choose the jurisdiction for the company
  • Register trading name, according to the laid down formats
  • Determine the location where you want to establish the boutique business in Dubai
  • Obtain initial approval from the Department of Economic Development or the Free Zone authority
  • Prepare legal structure, Article of Association and Memorandum of Association
  • Sign tenancy contract or Ejari
  • Submit the application and required documents to the authority, for a trading license in Dubai.
  • Receive the Dubai business license and start the boutique

15. Cake Shop

This requires less capital and more baking expertise. If your heart is into baking and you have necessary academic qualifications, the opening bakery is a great idea. You may even take up the franchise. New Year’s parties or birthday parties or anniversaries, if your cakes are delicious, there is no reason to not open a bakery.

16. Home-Cooked Meals Preparation & Delivery

People working in the 9-5 slots are too many and options for home-cooked food are too less. If you think you can dish out delicious home-cooked meals in a large number then explore this idea. You have your own distribution of collaborating with a distribution agency.

17. Property Management

Did you know Abu Dhabi is the richest city in the world in terms of the people living there? People mainly invest in real estate and need the help of property management firms to take care of their properties and maintain them long term.

18. Day-care Centre

We all love children but not everyone has the knack for running a day-care centre, it is a highly sensitive job as people entrust you with their children while they are away at work. If you do love kids and know how to manage them and have amicable and homely property, then day-care centre is a fantastic business idea.

19. Telecommunications

TECOM is a Dubai government initiative in the free zone area to empower telecom companies. Prior knowledge, however, is a must.

20. Nightclubs

Contrary to popular opinion, Dubai has a dazzling nightlife scene. After a long week’s work, everyone likes to relax and unwind at famous nightclubs in Dubai. But be sure that you have the necessary licenses to kick-start your nightclub.