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What kind of business can be opened in Dubai and what is needed for this

Какой бизнес можно открыть в Дубае и что для этого нужно

Just 15-20 years ago, the UAE was a country in which the desert approached the sea, and the cities were small oases of civilization, while very far from European or American concepts. Today, the Emirates is one of the world’s leading centers for the development of technology, finance, medicine, and trade. The government has set a course to attract the best personnel from all sectors of the economy so that they work for the benefit of the state. They are provided with ample opportunities, all kinds of benefits and indulgences. Today, 9/10 of the UAE’s population are immigrants from other countries who have found their commercial niche, generating decent income and providing a high comfortable lifestyle. This article is about what kind of business can be opened in Dubai for entrepreneurs who decide to settle in a highly developed southern country.

What you need to know when opening a company in the Emirates

Business meeting

The rapid rise of the Emirati economy was successful due to two conditions – the presence of the world’s largest oil reserves and the realization that they are not eternal and it is time to move from a purely extractive economy to a manufacturing or service one. The authorities are interested in attracting specialists in any field and create the most favorable conditions for their adaptation. Nevertheless, Emirati laws are strict and their violation can have negative consequences up to deportation. Let’s take a closer look at what factors should be taken into account when opening a company in the principality:

  1. Any type of activity requires licensing. There are several types of licenses, each type of activity corresponds to its own. If there are several businesses, then the same number of licenses will be needed.
  2. You can open a company in the Free economic Zone or on the Mainland. Enterprises registered in the frisons can only operate within these zones, as well as trade with partners from abroad. Registration on the mainland gives you the right to work within the country. At the same time, companies from FEZ and Meyland cannot cooperate directly, only through a distributor.
  3. Each Free Zone has a narrow commercial specialization, but at the same time, all conditions are concentrated in it for the development of this economic direction.
  4. Working with local entrepreneurs, it is necessary to take into account the local specifics of cooperation. In the Emirates, everything proceeds slowly and is partly slowed down. Local contractors may take a long time to think about proposals and constantly postpone making a decision. But this does not mean that they are not interested in you, it’s just the way things are done, this is a feature of business relations in the UAE.
  5. To earn the trust of Arab partners, they need to demonstrate respect for local culture and traditions. Your chances in the eyes of the counterparty will increase significantly if, upon acquaintance, you can demonstrate knowledge of customs, be able to say a few words in Arabic.
  6. A registered entrepreneur is not burdened with a lot of reports and inspections. But this does not mean that there is no need to keep any documentation. Employees must be registered with special authorities and have work visas. Insurance is also required in Mainland. It is also necessary to keep accounting and audit reports in the Free Zone in addition to tax.
  7. The average cost of opening a company is from 12 to 25 thousand US dollars.
  8. In the current conditions, in order to open a company in the principality, a businessman should not have personal accounts in banks under sanctions. This is carefully checked.
  9. Due to the high influx of Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians, new niches are emerging, which are still poorly filled, but are highly promising. Relocators from the CIS countries are looking for the goods and entertainment they are used to. For example, the demand for flour, vegetables, meat, and vegetable oil is growing from products. If we talk about leisure, the Russian-speaking audience is happy to attend events in Russian. These can be club parties, concerts, themed meetings, traditional holidays. Cafes and restaurants with national dishes of Slavic cuisine are characterized by high attendance.

Top 10 types of business to open in Dubai

Starting a business

And now let’s take a closer look at those types of business activities that are easiest to organize after moving to Dubai.

Trade and logistics

The UAE has a particularly advantageous geographical location. It is a major maritime and aviation transport hub, as well as the leading economic center of the entire Middle East. The entire road network of the principality consists of high–quality paved highways. The transport infrastructure is recognized as the best in the region and one of the best in the world. All these are prerequisites for the successful development of your business related to trade or transportation. The most promising areas include:

  • air logistics;
  • services related to storage, labeling, loading and unloading;
  • catering for passengers;
  • commercial and passenger transportation.

Information technology

The first centers of attraction for IT engineers were free economic zones. Some of them were created for the development of this particular sector of the economy. But now that tax policy has tightened in Free Zones, programmers and IT entrepreneurs are looking for opportunities to work outside the FEZ. They register a company in the Emirates, which is very prestigious, but they work from other places and are engaged in freelancing. All these are official types of business and legitimate ways to optimize taxes.

IT specialists have high incomes and their numbers are constantly growing, since the field itself is developing faster than others, and the services of the information technology sector are required in all spheres of life without exception. 

It is easiest for domestic IT specialists to find work in the following areas:

  • network and cloud technology administration;
  • cybersecurity;
  • programming;
  • analytics services;
  • IT support for companies;
  • data management.

Construction industry

Construction industry

The country has been going through a real construction revolution for two decades. Dozens of new residential complexes, shopping and business centers, hotels, amusement parks, and art objects are being created. Large-scale construction generates demand for qualified architects and engineers, builders, and finishing crews. A separate area is the trade in building materials and equipment for equipping residential, office buildings, warehouses.

In this area, you can directly design construction projects, act as a contractor or subcontractor. Working in the construction industry requires a professional license from a designer or a specialist. The easiest way is to organize a company selling building materials.

Travel business

The Emirates is a center of tourism. People come here to relax on the shores of the warm sea, go diving, spend time at noisy parties, get acquainted with historical sights and new wonders of the world. The directions of medical and shopping tourism are considered separate.

You can start your own business by mastering the hotel business. To do this, it is enough to open a hostel. You can do business by:

  • provision of ticket booking services;
  • vehicle rental;
  • organization of excursions, shopping tours;
  • to search for and provide information of interest.

Those who enter into business with a lot of capital can organize package tours and provide exclusive services. There are two types of licenses regulating the travel business in the emirates – entry and exit. The presence of the first gives the right to work only within the country, and the second allows you to organize trips abroad.

Crypto Business

Crypto Business

This is the newest type of entrepreneurship, and like everything new, it is developing rapidly in the UAE, ahead of other regions. Favorable conditions have been created here for the development of any digital business, as well as cryptocurrency trading:

  • the terms of registration of the company are minimal;
  • there are tax benefits;
  • It is easy to get a license to promote crypto startups, venture investments, mining, exchange operations, etc.;
  • absolute legalization of entrepreneurial activity.

Sale of abandoned cars

The bankruptcy procedure in the Emirates appeared only in 2017. Until then, if a company got into a situation in which it could not pay off debts, its owner faced criminal liability. The financial crises that swept the world in the previous two decades led to the ruin of many companies in the UAE. But since it was impossible to sell the property and pay off debts according to the law for the money earned, entrepreneurs simply abandoned the property and went abroad. This is how whole cemeteries of prestigious models of cars were formed in the country: Mercedes, Ferrari, BMW, Porsche.

The owners of these vehicles did not even always drive their cars anywhere. They were abandoned in parking lots, and airports, just on the side of the road, often with keys and documents. It was decided to seize such cars and sell them at police auctions. But the country has established an extensive business of finding and selling abandoned cars. They just had to be found before the police did. From the point of view of legality, the business is questionable, threatening punishment. But the temptation is too great, and many still have a good income from it.

Opening of the agency

Opening of the agency


This type of activity has its own characteristics. There are a lot of events in the Emirates where the presence of models is required. These are shows of new collections of fashionable clothes and accessories. Girls of model appearance are invited to special events for the presentation of gifts, for photo shoots. At the same time, the requirements for external data in the East are different than in America and Europe. Low-height or plus-size models are in demand here. As a business idea, you can suggest organizing a model training school.


For Russian-speaking immigrants, working in the field of marketing opens up promising growth opportunities. It is most convenient to open an advertising agency in the friezes of Dubai:

  • Media City;
  • Internet City;
  • Production City.

On the organization of events

Dubai hosts many business and entertainment events: presentations, exhibitions, conferences, private parties. Their organization brings good income, but preparation requires a more thorough approach and a long time. Any event must meet the requirements of the local way of life. In order for an event agency to be successful, you should first live in the country for a while, get acquainted with its lifestyle, culture, traditions and only then take up the organization of public events.

Opening of the restaurant

Locals and guests love to spend time in cafes and restaurants, pampering themselves with delicious cuisine. Dozens of diasporas live in the Emirates, preferring to go to establishments with national cuisine. There are also Russian restaurants here. The number of Russian–speaking population is constantly growing and it may seem that opening Russian restaurants is a win-win idea.

Restaurant in Dubai

In fact, everything is much more complicated. Restrictions on the sale of alcohol can significantly reduce profitability. In Dubai, there is a restriction on the issuance of licenses: you can buy and sell it on some streets, but not on others. Difficulties also arise when choosing a room for rent: the owners have very strict requirements, and in order to persuade them, it is necessary to present a convincing business plan and development strategy. The third difficulty lies in the mentality: the guest service is different from what we are used to in Russia. Thus, the opening of a catering outlet is fraught with many difficulties and requires a detailed study of the issue.

The way out is to buy a ready–made business. It’s much more convenient than starting from scratch. Many issues with the rental of premises, permits, and reputation have already been resolved. We just need to save it all. By the way, Russian restaurateurs are happy to provide advice to beginners.

Advantages of starting a business in the UAE

Now that we have analyzed in detail the question of what kind of business can be opened in Dubai, it is worth highlighting once again the advantages that open up to a businessman. The main one is the increased profitability. Entrepreneurs from Russia and other countries who have placed their companies in the UAE agree that their incomes have increased by at least a third compared to what they earned at home. This became possible thanks to:

  • lack of currency control;
  • zero rate for most tax payments;
  • the solvency of customers;
  • political stability;
  • a firm exchange rate;
  • a reliable banking system.
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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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