How to become an entrepreneur in Dubai (2024 Guide)


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As well as being the most populous of the emirates that make up the UAE, Dubai is famed as one of the world’s most thriving business hubs.

With an expatriate population comprising over 80% of residents, representing over 200 nationalities, it’s clear just how far the reach of Dubai has spread.

It’s not difficult to see what is behind the emirate’s popularity. An attractive tax regime, welcoming environment and incredible location are just some of the benefits to doing business in this part of the world.

So, if you’re looking to start business in 2024, here are the many reasons why you consider setting up in Dubai.

Benefits of being an entrepreneur in Dubai

The benefits of being an entrepreneur in Dubai could fill an article all on their own, so I’ll just summarise here.

Let’s start with the nation’s tax regime. Currently, the UAE tax rate remains at 0% on both personal and corporate income. VAT is also low and flat at 5%.

With plans to introduce a 9% corporate tax in 2023, time is running out to take full advantage of this incredible tax rate. However, that said, even at 9% the UAE’s tax environment would still remain one of the most attractive in the world.

When setting up in one of Dubai’s many free zones, you can also benefit from 100% customs tax exemption, zero currency restrictions, and profit and capital repatriation.

Now let’s look at Dubai’s location. Nestled in the heart of the Middle East, it is perfectly placed to trade with the markets around it, including Asia, Africa and Europe. Its time zone overlaps with most popular business hubs, and its direct transport links put a third of the world’s population within a four-hour flight time.

How to become an entrepreneur in Dubai: 7 Simple Steps

With the support of a local expert like Set Hub, setting up in Dubai can be fast, affordable and straightforward. We can guide you through the following process, liaising with all relevant authorities and assisting with any applications.

Step 1: Outline your business plan

A business plan is the perfect place to start when establishing a business anywhere in the world. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be War and Peace. Just a simple outline of your ownership structure, intended activities and a basic forecast will suffice.

This will help us get to know your business a little better so we can tailor our advice and next steps accordingly.

Step 2: Select your business activities

Now that you have outlined what your business intends to do, it is time to align your operations to one or more business activities permitted by the Department of Economic Development (DED).

There are over 2,000 to choose from, so this should be a relatively simple process. Keep in mind, however, that you can only carry out activities for which you are correctly licensed.

Step 3: Choose your setup type

There are two common ways to start a business in Dubai, in the mainland or in a free zone.

Mainland businesses can set up anywhere and are free to trade with the local market. Free zone businesses must be established in designated zones and require an agent to trade with the local market.

However, thanks to the tax and currency advantages I mentioned previously, a free zone setup is usually the most suitable and cost-effective option.

Step 4: Register your company name

With these decisions made, we can now help you choose and register your company name. There are a few key things to keep in mind at this stage – many that would not apply anywhere else in the world.

Be aware that you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions. In short, you should avoid any offensive or blasphemous language. Avoid names of well-known organisations and avoid abbreviations if naming your company after yourself – e.g., Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

Step 5: Applying for your trade license

Now it is time to apply for your UAE trade license. If you are setting up in the UAE mainland, you can make your application online via the e-channel portal, or in-person at a DED service centre.

If you are setting up in a free zone, you should make your application to the relevant managing authority.

In both cases, Set Hub can manage this process for you, liaising with all relevant authorities and ensuring your application is correct and complete before filing. At this stage, you will be required to submit the following documents:

  • Copies of the passports for all the license parties (partners and managers)
  • A copy of residence visa and NOC (if applicable).
  • A copy of your visa (if applicable).

Step 6: Applying for your visas

You’ll also need a residency visa to work in the UAE – as will your employees, should you have any. Again, with the right guidance, the visa application process can be incredibly straightforward.

As the holder of a UAE business license, you can also sponsor others for their visas too. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.

Step 7: Opening your corporate bank account

To take and make payments freely in the UAE and beyond, you’ll require a corporate bank account.

Accessing such services is not always an easy task for non-GCC nationals. However, working with Set Hub can help smooth the process. We can advise on the banks and other institutions best suited to your needs and assist with applications to ensure all is in order before submission.

How much does it cost to become an entrepreneur in Dubai

You can start your business with Set Hub from just AED 5,750. This will give you a license to start trading as well as use of our professional coworking facilities and support services.

Choose to pay with our banking partners on a 0% flexible instalment plan and you can spread the cost, make no down payment, and turn your business dream into reality in a matter of days.

Why work with Set Hub

That’s all there is to it. As you can see, if you’re armed with the right knowledge, business setup in Dubai and company formation in the UAE 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 Set Hub 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 visa applications that are 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.