Gone are the days dining al fresco, driving with the top down and nipping out early from work to enjoy a leisurely jog along the beach at sunset. Summer in the Gulf is upon us, where we retreat from the great outdoors and seek refuge in the air conditioned oases of our malls, apartments and offices.
But forced hibernation comes with fringe benefits, especially for entrepreneurs. More time spent inside can mean more time spent doing the necessary legwork to get your company up and running for winter, without the guilt of missed vitamin-D hours.
Preparing for a summer of entrepreneurship? Read on below for tips for starting up in Dubai.
1. Find Your Zone
Dubai offers a variety of licensing options for your future business, but don’t limit yourself. Ras Al Khaimah and Fujeirah also offer competitive license options and are worth consideration, especially if you plan on doing business in other Emirates.
Unless you are working with a local partner, you will be looking at Free Zone licenses. Free Zones are economic zones set up by the government that allow you to open and operate a business in the UAE. Free Zones are specialized, each focusing on a different industry. The DIFC, for example, issues licenses to financial companies such as banks and investment funds, while Media City offers licences to magazines and television stations.
2. Pick Your License
Once you choose the right Free Zone for your needs, you will need to apply for the appropriate business licenses. There are two major types of licenses offered: the FZE license (Free Zone Establishment), the FZ-LLC (Free Zone Limited Liability Company) and the FZC license (Free Zone Company).
An FZE is a company with a single shareholder. An FZC is a company incorporated by a corporation and in which the shareholders are other companies. An FZ-LLC is your most likely choice for a license and is a company incorporated by an individual and in which the other shareholders (minimum two) are natural persons.
Once you have decided, fill out a preliminary application on the zone’s website.
3. Hoard Cash
If the hardest part of setting up shop in Dubai is finding the right Free Zone and license to meet your needs, coming up with the cash to pay for it is the obvious second. Dubai might not have a business tax, but the upfront fees required to register your business take care of that. Most Free Zones require registration fees starting at 3,500 to 5,000 AED, in addition to license fees averaging 10,000 to 15,000 AED per year. Yearly office or desk rental costs also need to be considered. Depending on the license you will be applying for, you may also be required to provide upfront capital starting at 50,000 AED.
4. Talk to People
This is the first, second, middle, last and most important step.
Setting up a business in Dubai is confusing, but you are not alone. Attend industry events, exhibitions, trade shows or even just a dinner with friends. Ask around. What was their experience like? What free zone did they chose? Why? Stay alert for an ally ready to offer advice and guidance.
Finally, remember that Dubai thrives on the business that entrepreneurs generate, and Free Zones have been established to help promote that business. The process is complicated, but in the end the government wants you to be successful. So plan ahead, save some cash, and prepare to enter the winter months a newly minted businessman or woman.
- Mary Ames
Educational Events Manager//Shelter Dubai
Image available under CC License by thetravelguru