Opening a Restaurant in Dubai? We have all the Answers

by Zaara 20, Dec 2016

Opening a Restaurant in Dubai? We have all the Answers

The Food and Beverage Industry is a pretty lucrative business industry in the Middle East as the Middle East is considered the place with culinary delights. One can find not only the local cuisines but also the cuisines of various parts of the world as people from all over the world come to the UAE and along with them, they bring the food culture of their nation. One of the key reasons why people travel to places in the UAE like Dubai is to have a taste of world cuisine and enrich their travelling experience.

Businessmen and Entrepreneurs from all over the world are eyeing the restaurant business in Dubai. Nearly 2000 restaurants have opened up in Dubai in the last one and a half years alone. People are willing to try newer cuisines, new food specialities and tantalize their taste buds and Dubai is the best place for this as there are people of all nationalities and from various places across the globe.

Food and Beverage Industry in Dubai

For opening a restaurant business in Dubai, you have to follow something called the ‘Food Code’. Food code is an initiative taken by the Food Control Department of Dubai Municipality to ensure food safety from the starting point of food production to an endpoint or food consumption. It is an initiative with an endeavour to guide the primary person in charge at the restaurant and instil food safety standards in the food industry.

Food codes similar to this are used in various other countries all over the world which shows us how prepared and committed the United Arab Emirates is in developing the country that it will implement such a world-class project to attract more people to come into the UAE.

The above-mentioned food code is applicable to the following types of business setup in Dubai.

  1. Restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and cafes.
  2. Bakeries
  3. Butcheries
  4. Foodservice operation institution in schools and hospitals.
  5. Supermarket, grocery, and departmental stores.
  6. Food factories and warehouses
  7. Food catering services, supplies to the cruise ship, desert camps, events and canteens
  8. Food packing material manufacturers and supplies
  9. Kiosks, temporary and permanent food events, and mobile vending operations

The above-mentioned businesses must follow the Food Code to a tee else they may have to face problems ranging from fines to penalties.

Restaurant License in Dubai

Before starting opening a restaurant in Dubai, you need to obtain two different types of licenses. The details about these two licenses are given below: 

  • Trade License

The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing provides a trade license for business setup in Dubai. You must select an appropriate food establishment type you want to operate in. This is important as it will be specified in the license that you acquire.

After this step is done, you must also get your construction plans vetted and approved by the food control department of Dubai after which you will receive your trade license.

  • Food License

A food license is provided by the Food Safety Department in Dubai. This license will help the business in dealing with edible items across the UAE. There are a number of documents that are required to obtain such a license. The following documents must be produced before the food safety department to obtain the cafeteria licence or for any food business in Dubai.

  • Copy of the trade license or primary approval from the authority that issues trade license
  • Interior design layout of the premises, if applicable. This is essentially a blueprint of your restaurant that must contain the following in the restaurant
    1. The entry and exit passages
    2. Space for processing food
    3. Space for storing food
    4. The windows and ventilation system
    5. Location of food equipment that will be used to process the food
    6. Washing machines, dishwashers and other supportive equipment
  • Additionally, approval from the planning department is required if the restaurant is located outside the shopping centre.

You must also apply for NOC on foodstuff establishment trade license from the food safety department This service will enable you to complete the procedure of issuing trade license related to the food activity/establishment which is provided by the Department of Economic Development (DED) e.g. Jebel Ali free zone, Dubai investments park etc. The service fee for a food establishment permit fee is 10,000 AED

Other Licenses

For conducting a business activity other than food or any other deviation, the business needs to apply for a different license. In case you are looking for special licenses like a liquor license, then there is a separate procedure that must be applied with Dubai police headquarters. Following documents are required:

  • Application form
  • Copy of the passport
  • Application fee
  • Two photos

One must know that the Dubai government imposes a 30% tax on the sale of liquor and there is certain other fees also required for the sale of liquor like the fee for importing liquor, a fee for selling liquor etc.

You can contact Commitbiz Business Consultants for more assistance on licensing and fees.

Cost of Opening a Restaurant in Dubai

Setting up a restaurant business in Dubai requires planning, development, and government procedures, which means you must set aside a budget for your business setup. The expenses involved in starting a cafeteria in Dubai may vary depending on various factors such as the location, commercial space, number of employees, and other factors. Apart from planning the business and creating menus and price points, it is also essential to consider the costs of government procedures.

We at Commitbiz are restaurant business consultants in Dubai who design special business setup packages keeping in mind expenses that would incur during the initial stages of restaurant business setup in Dubai.

Food Safety Measures

Each restaurant must appoint qualified personnel when they start operating. This person will be responsible for the operations of the business and will be appointed by the person in charge of training for the restaurant. This person must also undergo specialized training so that he can perform the business activities in an easy fashion and without error.

Other special permits are as follows

  • For food transportation: A vehicle permit is required.
  • For food truck: Food truck license is required
  • For handling and serving pork: A pork permit is required
  • Food consignment release license 

Under the new Dubai food code which came into effect in 2013, there are separate guidelines on the import and export of food products. These may come in handy for company formation in Dubai food and beverage industry.

Key Factors for Dubai Restaurant Construction

There are different criteria that a person has to keep in mind before starting a restaurant business in the UAE.

Before commencing works, approval must be sought from the food control section. Three copies of the proposed kitchen design/layout plans and equipment details must be provided from a registered engineering office for approval. Here is an example of guidelines for a restaurant setup.

  1. Wall, floor, and ceiling to be washable, absorbent, fireproof, lightly coloured and must contain no cracks.
  2. There should be adequate ventilation and lighting
  3. The area of the kitchen must be 300 sq. feet of 40% of the total restaurant is, whichever is bigger
  4. There should be a storage area for dry/chilled and frozen food items
  5. If there is a tandoor in the kitchen the minimum area should be 380 sq. ft.
  6. Washing facilities must be present with hot and cold water.

It is very important to obtain a No objection letter from the Dubai Municipality-Public health department before the commencement of the work. Businessmen may face closer action in case you fail to comply.

Opening a Food and Beverage business in the free zone can be a very lucrative business for entrepreneurs. The business can take advantage of the various features of the free zone as well as the different benefits available in the food and beverage sector.

Company formation in Dubai on a strong foundation is a challenging task and requires in-depth knowledge of the local market and excellent business acumen. With benefits offered in Dubai Free zone like 100% ownership and tax-free business operations, business setup in Dubai is an opportunity knocking at your door.

There are numerous licenses, permits required for company formation in the Dubai food industry, it is advised to seek the assistance of business consultants Commitbiz who will educate, guide and assist you with licensing and business set procedures up in Dubai. So go ahead and open your dream restaurant in Dubai today!

Do contact us for more information. We will be glad to be of assistance.


Can you open a Restaurant in Dubai?

Yes, a restaurant can be opened in Dubai, however, you need to provide all the correct documents for the opening of such a business.

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