Café and Shisha License Dubai, UAE: 2022 Guide


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Shisha smoking has been popular in this part of the world for many years. However, with stricter controls on the tobacco industry with every passing year, the market for alternatives is seeing exceptional growth.

The global waterpipe smoking market is estimated to be worth USD 25bn by 2028, with the Middle East accounting for over 80% of that.

Here in the UAE, with its thriving café culture and easing coronavirus restrictions, shisha smoking looks set to be more popular than ever. And with the support of a local expert, it’s easy to get involved.

What are the benefits of starting a shisha café in Dubai?

There are many benefits to starting any business here in Dubai. The emirate’s easy incorporation process, low barriers to entry, and incredibly welcoming business environment make it super simple to get started.

Then there is the nation’s tax rate which remains 0% on corporate and personal income.

What are the steps to get a café and shisha license in Dubai?

To operate a shisha café in Dubai, you’ll need a restaurant, cafeteria or coffee shop license. There are two steps to this process. You’ll need a trade license from the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED) as well as additional approval from the Dubai Municipality food safety department.

As a condition of your license, you’ll need to adhere to the Food Code. This covers everything from

where food can be made and stored, ventilation, cleaning facilities and much more.

When it comes to the shisha aspect of your license, you must clearly sign any designated smoking areas, which must be no larger than 50% of your total square footage. All shisha tables must be made of rustproof non-flammable material, and you must provide disposable mouthpieces for all guests.

Before making your license application, you’ll need to decide on a company name. Be aware that you’ll need to abide by a strict set of naming conventions.

You should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself.

With this decided, you can apply for your license and municipality approval. You can make this application yourself directly to the Department of Economic Development (DED) or equivalent Municipality if you wish to set up elsewhere in the emirates.

The process is much more straightforward, however, if you work with Set Hub. We can make and manage the application to ensure an easy incorporation process.

What documents are required to get a shisha and café license in Dubai, UAE?

As part of your license application, you will be asked to provide the following documents:

  • A completed application form.
  • Passport copies for all shareholders.
  • Brief descriptions of intended business activities.


When applying for a café/restaurant license, you will also need to submit a floorplan that includes all entrances and exits, food processing areas, food storage areas, windows and ventilation, food processing equipment, and all washing equipment.

Do I require a visa to start a shisha café in Dubai?

Yes, you do. As well as applying for your visa, you can also sponsor visas for company employees, family, and domestic staff such as housekeepers or drivers.

The maximum number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your company, your chosen setup and, for dependant visas, your personal earnings.

In all cases, the visa application process follows the same five steps:

  • Apply for an entry permit.
  • Status adjustment.
  • Medical and fitness test.
  • Emirates ID registration.
  • Visa stamping.

You’ll need a bank account to trade out here too. There are various local and international banks to choose from. However, opening an account can be a complicated process for overseas entrepreneurs.

Before making your application, you should first familiarise yourself with several financial institutions to find one that is best suited to your business needs and most likely to offer you corporate banking services. Again, Set Hub can help you with this process.

How much does a café and shisha license cost?

The cost of your café and shisha license will depend on many factors and could come in anywhere in the region of AED 10,000 to AED 40,000+.

As well as your license, you’ll also need to account for the cost of premises, equipment, and additional approvals that you may require.

For a full breakdown of all costs involved in starting a café and shisha business in Dubai, get in touch with Set Hub.

Are you ready to start your business in Dubai?

Hopefully, this guide has made clear that if you’re armed with the right knowledge, setting up a shisha business in Dubai doesn’t have to be overly complex.

That being said, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.

To help you to ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist such as Business Incorporation Zone when establishing a new company in the UAE.

We are a team of company registration professionals who are passionate about bringing the dreams of aspiring entrepreneurs and SMEs to life.

As well as handling your license application, Set Hub can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.

We also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits and visas applications required to trade in the UAE.

In short, our experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.