How to start business in Dubai?

Starting a business in Dubai, like any other place, involves several steps and considerations. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to start a business in Dubai:

1. Determine Your Business Activity:

First and foremost, decide on the type of business activity you want to pursue. Dubai offers various business structures, including mainland companies, free zone entities, and offshore companies. Each has its own set of regulations, benefits, and limitations, so research thoroughly to choose the most suitable option for your business.

2. Conduct Market Research:

Before diving into the business setup process, conduct thorough market research to understand the demand for your products or services in Dubai. Analyze your target market, competition, and potential challenges to develop a solid business plan.

3. Choose a Business Name:

Select a unique and relevant name for your business that complies with Dubai’s naming guidelines. Ensure that the chosen name is not already registered by another entity and does not infringe on any trademarks.

4. Partner with a Local Sponsor:

If you opt for a mainland company setup, you’ll need to partner with a local sponsor who will hold a majority stake (51%) in the company. Choose your sponsor wisely and draft a clear sponsorship agreement outlining the rights and responsibilities of each party.

5. Reserve Your Trade Name:

Once you’ve finalized your business name, you need to reserve it with the Department of Economic Development (DED) if you’re setting up a mainland company. This step ensures that no one else can use the same name for their business.

6. Obtain Initial Approvals:

Depending on your business activity and location, you may need to obtain initial approvals from relevant authorities such as the DED, Dubai Municipality, Dubai Civil Defense, and others. This process varies based on the nature of your business and can include health and safety clearances, environmental approvals, etc.

7. Secure a Business License:

Apply for the appropriate business license based on your chosen business activity and jurisdiction (mainland, free zone, or offshore). Each type of license has specific requirements and costs associated with it. Work with your PRO or business setup consultant to ensure all documentation is in order and submitted correctly.

8. Arrange Office Space:

Depending on your business setup, you may need to lease office space in Dubai. Free zones often provide flexible office solutions, while mainland companies require physical office space within Dubai. Ensure that your chosen location complies with zoning regulations and is suitable for your business needs.

9. Complete Visa Processing:

If you plan to relocate employees to Dubai, you’ll need to process their visas and residency permits. Work with your PRO to submit visa applications, medical tests, and other required documentation to the relevant authorities.

10. Open a Corporate Bank Account:

Once your business setup is complete, open a corporate bank account in Dubai to facilitate your financial transactions. Choose a bank that offers services tailored to the needs of businesses and provides convenient online banking options.

11. Register for Taxation:

Understand the tax regulations applicable to your business in Dubai. While the UAE does not impose income tax on individuals and corporations, there are other taxes and fees to consider, such as Value Added Tax (VAT) and corporate taxes in certain industries.

12. Commence Operations:

With all the necessary approvals, licenses, and infrastructure in place, you’re ready to commence business operations in Dubai. Focus on marketing, building relationships with clients and partners, and delivering high-quality products or services to establish your presence in the market.


Starting a business in Dubai requires careful planning, adherence to regulations, and efficient execution. By following these steps and seeking guidance from experienced professionals, you can navigate the business setup process smoothly and position your company for success in one of the world’s most dynamic business hubs.

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