How to start an app development company in Dubai, UAE


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Talking, eating, sleeping, listening to music, reading a book. You name it, there’s an app for that.

The mobile app market has seen astronomical growth in recent years. Recent estimates put the value of the global industry at around USD 110bn with projected growth up to USD 407bn by 2026.

The trend here in the UAE is in line with the rest of the world. The country is predicted to account for 60% of the burgeoning Middle East market.

It’s little wonder then that an increasing number of entrepreneurs are looking to make an impact in this fast-growing space. As well as demand, UAE mobile app companies benefit from 0% tax, easy access to the markets of Europe, Asia, Middle East and Africa, and an encouraging business environment.

So, if you’re wondering how to start an app development company in Dubai, below is everything you need to know.

Benefits of starting an app development company

There are many benefits to starting a software business in Dubai. For one, with the help of a UAE company formation expert, the process can be both fast and affordable.

A company formation expert can manage every stage of the application process on your behalf – helping to define your activities, choose a company name, and carry out license and visa applications.

Assuming you already have the requisite skills and required computing power, app development also has reasonably low overheads. There’s often no need to take on physical premises, and you’ll work to order, meaning most of your time is billable.

Start an app development business in the UAE right now and you’ll also benefit from a large and growing market. UAE consumers are coming to expect the app experience from their service providers. The grocery and food sector is a great example. Numerous apps are now available in this space – Talabat, Deliveroo, Zomato and more – highlighting the growing demand for such services.

Other industries are keen to follow this trend and reap the benefits in terms of brand awareness, customer loyalty and audience engagement.

What does it cost to start an app business?

When starting any business in the UAE, there are several costs to consider. As well as a business license and a visa, you’ll also need to account for employee wages and insurance, premises (if required) and equipment.

If you are starting from scratch, you’ll need to invest in software and a reasonably powerful computer. If you have this already, and are starting small, start-up costs are reasonably low. You’ll only need to account for the cost of your license and visa.

As there is so much scope for variation, the best way to get an idea of cost is to speak with a company formation expert. They can get to know your business and tailor a quote for your specific needs.

How to start an app development company in Dubai

So, you want to start a software business in Dubai. Here’s what you need to do.

First, seek out the services of a respected company formation specialist. They will start by ascertaining whether your business is better suited to a free zone or the mainland.

There are advantages to both setups. Free zones such as Fujairah Creative City offer benefits such as a quick and easy incorporation process, ongoing business support and financial incentives such as tax exemptions and zero currency restrictions.

Next, they’ll help you decide on your business activity. The important thing here is that your chosen activities are in line with those on the official Department of Economic Development (DED) list.

Now it’s time to choose a company name. Be aware that you must abide by a strict set of naming conventions here in the UAE.

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 – i.e. Dave Mann Consulting, rather than D Mann Consulting. You must also check that your chosen name is available to register.

With these key decisions made, you can apply for your trade license. You’ll be required to provide a few details and some basic documentation, including:

  • Completed application form
  • Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners
  • Two colour passport size photos.


Finally, unless you already have a valid UAE residency visa, you’ll need to apply for one.

Just like applying for your business license, 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. This could be a spouse, parent or child, or a domestic worker such as a housekeeper.

Are you ready to start a software business in Dubai, UAE?

If you’re armed with the right knowledge, starting an app development business 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 Dubai 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 visas 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.