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A Guide on How to Start a Company in Dubai in 2024

Last updated: Apr 02, 2024

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Starting a company in any global location is an important decision involving planning, conceptualisation, research, budgeting, setup, and decision-making. It also demands guidance and support, especially in selecting the appropriate trade license, particularly for novice entrepreneurs.

One of the highly favoured cities among business owners is Dubai. Dubai is well known to investors and business owners due to its investor-friendly environment, favourable tax policies, and streamlined business procedures. To put it simply, it is a premier business hub in the Middle East.

There are many benefits of starting a business in Dubai since it is a commercial capital, such as huge tax benefits, excellent administrative infrastructure, access to international markets and more business opportunities to be explored. 

Furthermore, the government has implemented advantageous rules and regulations that support and foster entrepreneurship. If you are interested to know how to start a company in Dubai, you’ve come to the right place! 


How to Start a Company in Dubai

Here is a thorough guide on how to start a company in Dubai. Pay attention to each requirement to help set up your company.


1. Choose a Business Structure

The first step on how to start a company in Dubai is to know what the business structure Dubai has to offer. Here are some business structures you can establish in Dubai.

  • Sole Proprietorship: You can register as a sole proprietor in Dubai mainland, bearing personal liability for financial risks, as your business finances are treated as personal finances.
  • Partnership Company: Dubai Mainland permits general or limited liability partnerships. General partnerships hold personal liability, while limited liability partnerships offer more personal protection but are more complex to establish.
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC): Equivalent to an LLC, available in Dubai mainland or Free Zones with 2 to 50 shareholders, each having limited liability corresponding to their investment.
  • Private Shareholding Company: Setup possible in Dubai mainland or Free Zones, ownership held by individuals or businesses as shareholders, with shares not publicly traded.
  • Public Shareholding Company: Enables trading shares on the stock market in Dubai, requiring legal advice for proper setup.
  • Civil Company: Suitable for recognized professional fields, limiting foreign ownership to 49% in certain strategic sectors.
  • Branch of Foreign Company: Establish a branch in a Dubai Free Zone, allowing integration with your home business while operating under UAE license terms.


2. Select the Jurisdiction 

The next thing you need to understand on how to start a business in Dubai is that the market in the UAE is segmented into various economic zones known as Mainland, Free Zone, and Offshore. Each zone, also referred to as a jurisdiction, has its unique laws and regulations governing business establishment. 

These zones are personalized to suit different business demands. However, the choice of jurisdiction for your business is based on your specific business needs and the nature of your business activities.


3. Receive Approval for Company Name and Business Activities

When you start a business in Dubai, it has to follow the country's naming regulations. Names containing offensive language or references that could be perceived as offensive to religion, political groups, or criminal organizations are prohibited. 

If using a person's name, you must demonstrate their ownership or partnership with the company (initials or abbreviations are not allowed). 

The Department of Economic Development (DED) needs to approve your company's name before proceeding with the company setup process in the UAE. Additionally, your business activity also undergoes approval during this phase. 

When you have received the necessary approvals, submit the documents to apply for your UAE trade license and initiate the company registration process in Dubai.


4. Get Initial Approvals

Mistakes to avoid when starting a business in Dubai are being unable to get this initial approval because it will prevent the next steps of the application process.

Before obtaining a business license to start a company in Dubai, first obtain initial approval from the Dubai Department of Economic Development (DED). It confirms that the UAE government has no objections to your establishment in the country. 

You can apply for this approval online, in person, or through a third-party service provider such as a law firm. The documents required for your application will depend on your type of business, but they usually include:

  • Business registration and licensing form.
  • Copy of your passport or ID.
  • Copy of your residence permit or visa.
  • Articles of association for the company.
  • Feasibility study for the project.


5. Apply for a License

To start a company in Dubai, you need to obtain the license needed for the application and apply for the right license for your business. Here are 3 types of licenses you can apply when starting a business in Dubai,

  • Commercial License: Enables the establishment of trading businesses in Dubai, including import/export, sales, logistics, travel & tourism, general stores, and real estate.
  • Professional License: Issued to businesses that provide service, artisans or craftsmen. It covers industries like medical services, beauty salons and repair services.
  • Industrial License: Issued for manufacturing activities that convert natural materials into final products, covering industries like textiles, metal, and paper manufacturing.


7. Open a Corporate Bank Account

After obtaining approval and obtaining all required documents, you can proceed to open a corporate bank account. It is required to open a bank account in the UAE. 

The UAE offers a variety of banks, both local and international. These are just a few options available for opening a corporate bank account in the UAE:

  • HSBC.
  • Citibank.
  • Barclays.
  • Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
  • Commercial Bank of Dubai.


8. Set Up Your Office Location

As a business owner, you have the option to either rent an office unit or select a shared workspace in a business centre based on your business requirements. The choice of office space can also impact the number of visas you can apply for through the Department of Economic Development (DED).


9. Apply the Final Approval

Gather all your documents, location details, and legal information for the final submission. In certain cases, you may also need to seek licensing approval from other relevant authorities. 

Once you have prepared the documents, you will need to submit the following:

  • Initial approval receipt and previously submitted documents.
  • Lease contract from the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).
  • Duly attested service agent contract (for civil establishments and companies with 100%. non-GCC ownership), if required by the UAE with the involvement of a local service agent.
  • Approval from relevant government entities as needed.


After submitting the documents, you will need to make the payment for the license through approved payment channels. Then, finally, your business will be ready to operate!



That is all about how to start a business in Dubai. After understanding all the relevant information on how to start a company in Dubai, such as the benefits, the business structure, and detailed steps, you have to pay attention to the whole process, especially the licenses and permits needed.  

When you start a business in Dubai, pay attention to an essential component which is a well-carried marketing strategy. It's important to select the most effective marketing approach for your business to generate higher revenue.

In this scenario, employing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) can be beneficial for promoting your business through search engines. 

By creating high-quality and SEO-friendly content, you can target potential customers using relevant keywords, thereby driving traffic to your website and increasing your revenue.

Avail expert and knowledgeable SEO Services by cmlabs today to assist you in optimizing your website and generating SEO-friendly content!

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