A Comprehensive Guide on Opening a Restaurant in Dubai

by Zaara 06, May 2016

Dubai has become one of the world’s most sought-after places for starting a business. Especially for Indians in the restaurant business, it has proved to be a stepping stone toward going international. And that is hardly surprising, given that Dubai is a favorite holiday destination for tourists all over the world, providing countless cultural experiences and culinary treats, there cannot be a better place for an Indian wanting to test the international waters to make their restaurant thrive and grow into a multinational business.

Tips for Restaurant Business Setup in Dubai

Here are some helpful tips from the experts at Commitbiz to get you started.

How to Start a Restaurant in UAE

1. Research. Research. Research.

There is no such thing as too much research when it comes to getting into the restaurant business in Dubai.  From doing a competitor analysis to branding to planning your menu to designing your marketing strategies to understanding your customers’ preferences to costs and legal procedures, research every single aspect until you know your business in and out.

2. Leverage your USP

Do you have a USP? The Unique Selling Point that will distinguish you from the rest? What is it that will make your customers pick you over your competition? Is it food? The price? The experience? Having a USP will not only be a differentiator but will also position your restaurant as a destination of choice for your customers.

3. Test your ideas

Be it food or cocktails or a quirky ambience. Get people to try it out and offer you some helpful feedback. And by people, we do not mean your friends. We mean your real potential customers. Participate in an event related to food, open up a stall, meet people, understand what they are looking for, what they like and do not like. Be open to criticism.  No matter how successful you are back home, you will need to trial your concept in the new country. It is better to revise and improvise right at the beginning rather than failing after establishing the restaurant.

4. Do some serious work

And by serious work we mean, understanding the rules and regulations for deciding the location and the process of setting up a restaurant. Yes, Dubai is a great place to start a restaurant but things can get a bit tricky here if you are not familiar with the lay of the land or do not have a local consultant to show you around the potential loopholes.

Few Things you must know before Starting a Restaurant in Dubai

Here are some things that you will need to be aware of:


You need to decide whether you want to work out of a Free Trade Zone where the rent costs are high but you can own 100% of your business or opt for a DED (Dubai Economic Department) where you will have to partner with an Emirati who will hold 51% stake of your business, but your location would be close to the market hub.


UAE has many rules and regulations which have to be followed very strictly. Even a minor offence can land you into a lot of trouble. You need to watch your step very closely at every stage, ensuring you have earned every legal right to do business in order to stay away from legal hassles.

Food Code

For all the restaurants in Dubai, a food code must be followed. The Food Code in Dubai was enabled in order to support the restaurant owners and to provide guidelines for food safety and regulations to be respected when owning a food establishment in Dubai. The Food Code requirements apply to the following categories of food establishments in Dubai –

How to Register a Restaurant Business in Dubai?

There are minimal steps to be undertaken to set up a restaurant business in Dubai. They are –
1. Decide whether to establish your restaurant in mainland Dubai or free zone Dubai. Free zone businesses do appeal to business startup due to its cost-effectiveness but one must keep in mind that the restriction that free zone companies can operate only in their respective free zone. Dubai mainland does not have that restriction but it cannot be completely foreign-owned.
2. Obtain a restaurant license in Dubai from the licensing authorities. Food license is obtained through the Food and Safety department while trade license is received from the Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Department of Tourism and Commercial marketing. If you want to add anything in your business activity, additional special licenses are also available such as delivery permit, Ramadan permit, pork permit and more.
3. Get approval for construction plans according to the specifications by the Food Court Department in Dubai
Once you follow these steps, you are good to start your own restaurant in Dubai.

Documents Required to Open a Restaurant Business in Dubai

How can we help?

We highly suggest hiring a local consultant, so you can focus just on your business, while the consultant can take care of the rest. Better still, come to Commitbiz, we have got immense experience guiding businesses, and we will guide you through every step and help you set up your restaurant from the start and within your desired timelines!
For more information, contact us today.

  • Restaurants and Cafes
  • Canteens in Schools and Hospitals
  • Bakeries
  • Supermarkets and Grocery Stores
  • Catering Unites
  • Food Factories
  • The applicant’s personal information which meets the requirements mentioned above;
  • The layout of the premises where alcoholic beverages will be sold;
  • Information about the place where the alcohol is stored;
  • A fire safety certificate;
  • An estimation of the cost related to selling alcohol in the restaurant.