Do’s and Don’ts of Setting up business in Dubai

by Zaara 21, May 2017

Successful entrepreneurs are always on the lookout for new locations to expand their business. While the Middle East has been known for its oil-fuelled economy for a long time now, things are definitely changing on that front. Take the case of Dubai, for example, it has acquired the stature of a global cosmopolitan, multicultural and entrepreneur-friendly city, not many could achieve, Needless to say, globally, a large number of business owners are expanding their businesses in Dubai to grow more.

Company formation in Dubai

A successful entrepreneur must always know his trade well and rules of the game. While Dubai, with its flexible investment policies and tax exemption laws, is an entrepreneurial paradise, there are some ground level facts that business owners must know.
In the year 2015 itself, Dubai city issued 22369 licenses, according to Dubai statistics report on business sector activity. Counting Middle East, Asia, and Africa, Dubai is a gateway to over a billion customers. It only seems logical to spend some time knowing about the do's and don'ts of doing business in this fast-paced, multicultural and multi-ethnic environment of Dubai.

Do Get a Local Sponsor

In terms of business registration and licensing, rules are a bit different in Dubai. In case you wish to set up a company in Dubai, you get plenty of good opportunities. But in order to do so, you must find a local sponsor. A local sponsor is a UAE national who will be 51% partner of your business which will enable you to register your business as a Limited Liability Company(LLC). Once you have a local sponsor, you also have the freedom to start your business anywhere in the city.

Don’t leave things to verbal commitments/understanding

You may find a local sponsor easily who is giving you a verbal commitment. But it is advised that do not go for only such a commitment. Do sign a legal agreement between your company and the local sponsor. Some sponsors charge extra for extra services provided to you or your business. Make sure everything is legally documented to avoid any future hassles.

Do choose your business license carefully

Any kind of business activity you decide to pursue falls into any of the three categories- Professional, Commercial and Industrial. There may be different authorities who deal in different kind of licenses. A separate set of supporting documentation and fee is applicable for each. Therefore, it is very important to choose the right and most appropriate business license for you and go ahead with operations.

Don't handle business registration on your own

While you may be tempted and plan to save on some money, but do not try to tackle business registration and licensing procedure on your own. It may seem as easy and swift, but it is tricky in some areas and you must seek the advice of consultants or consulting organization to help you. Hiring a consultant for registration purposes gives you more time and mind space to focus on your business venture, partnerships and chalking out a long-term business plan. Speak to Commitiz today.

Do a lot of research

Yes, this may sound simple, but research is the most important part in UAE, where there is a constant shift in macroeconomic environment and stiff competition everywhere. Researching on your lines of business and doing a long-term planning will give you an edge over the competition and will help you stay profitable.

Don't forget to give your due to local customs and culture

Middle eastern business people are friendly and do appreciate a good joke every now and then. Use of profane language, disparaging comments on any religion/sect is a strict no-no. Honor people’s beliefs and customs and you will go a long way.

Do a lot of networking

Dubai is all about in-person networking and meet & greets. Email interactions will not take you as far as in-person interaction will. Word-of-mouth publicity is quite effective here. Try to build your own word of mouth. Attend conventions, networking events, enjoy drinks on offer and stay in touch with work acquaintances. Networking events help you build skills and also a remarkable client list.

Don't forget to get the right work visa

Depending on the time duration and kind of business activity, you will require a work visa.  Pay attention to all documentation required and complete your paperwork to ensure your business runs smoothly once you are in the UAE. Remember, getting a business visa is not a tough process owing to friendly government policy for foreign investors, but it is import to pay attention to legal documents and complete paperwork to get through.

Do explore the culture and local traditions

Don't just work in Dubai, Live in Dubai. Try to immerse yourself in the local culture, learn a few Arabic words, learn about the culture and traditions. Experience local festivals and cuisines. Enjoy the cool night breeze and desert safaris. Enjoy the landscaped, oasis hunting in the desert. Build upon your Dubai experience and keep on enriching it.

Don't forget to take it easy

It is a new economy, the people and the government are trying to figure out how to make it even better. Its fast, multicultural and may not be going according to your pace always. Learn to take a deep breath and don't lose focus. It's a competitive world out there but it's also limitless and without any repetitions. Every day is new and it is constantly expanding. Let it all sink in don't get overwhelmed. Try to enjoy while you work in Dubai.

Dubai is a tax-free haven, it is a cultural amalgamation of people and is diverse in ethnicities. The Dubai lifestyle is socially and culturally vibrant and welcomes people from all over the world.

If you are an entrepreneur who is looking to set up business in Dubai, do keep in mind the above do and don'ts. These will help you go a long way, although seeking professional hand-holding by long-standing business consultants in this area will be a wise decision.

Looking for more guidance?

Write to us at


Is it mandatory to sign an agreement with your local sponsor?

It is better to sign an agreement and document everything to avoid inconvenience in the future.

What are the types of licenses offered for Dubai businesses?

There are six types of licenses

  • Professional license
  • Commercial License
  • Industrial License
  • Agricultural License
  • Tourism License
  • Occupational License


What are the criteria to get a business visa in UAE?

Some of the major criteria are

  • Prove your entrepreneurship
  • Must relocate and start a business in UAE or have a business plan
  • Must be a shareholder or have senior leadership in the company


Can my trade license application be cancelled?

Yes, if you don’t pay the fees before 30 days.

How many business activities are there in UAE?

UAE has more than 2000 business activities.