How to start a small business in the UAE?

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As one of the fastest growing economies in the world, United Arab Emirates (UAE) in general and Dubai in particular, offer a range of opportunities for investors and businesses alike. UAE’s strategic location (in the heart of the Middle East and the world) also makes it a perfect hub for global trade.

So, how do you go about planning and strategizing a perfectly good business idea into a productive and viable business? Read on to find out!

  • Know your product/service: You have a great idea – but is there a demand for your idea? Well, find that out before you get into the registration process! Knowledge about the local region, viability of the product or service, competition analysis, a credible business plan are some of the important aspects which must be thought through to move ahead! If the investment is significant, ensure that you commission a feasibility study in UAE to determine the commercial and financial viability of the product or service that you plan to offer.
  • Trade Name: Once you’ve finalized your business activities, you need to give your business a name, one that ideally indicates the nature of your business. This is a crucial step since there are certain conditions one needs to keep in mind when naming their business. Some leg work may be necessary to determine if your choice of trade name is available in the UAE.
  • Free zone or Mainland: This one’s a vital step before you can submit your license application. Do you want to establish your business in a Free zone or on the mainland? Free zones and Mainland have their own set of pros and cons, and this is a decision that is dependent on the nature of your business and whether you are comfortable with a partner. Full-service audit, accounting and company formation Firms in Dubai who offer on shore, offshore and free zone company formation services are your best bet in this case. They can advise you on a suitable choice, depending on your requirements and appetite.
  • Applying for a business license: Whether you choose to go ahead with Free zone or Mainland registration, your next step would be applying for a business license. Whilst different emirates offer different avenues for registration (including applying directly with the Economic Department or the relevant free zone) it is best to leave the process to experienced professionals with a company formation firm which is familiar with the documentation and other requirements. It is likely to save you from making expensive mistakes and wasting time and delaying start of your business.
  • Employees: The rules differ for Free zones and Mainland. Number of visas, office space required, requirement for a full-time manager, residency of the manager, application of Wage Protection System, end of service benefits and other provisions differ whether you are registered in the Mainland or in a free zone. Again, a good company formation firm is best placed to advise you on the best way forward.
  • Statutory regulations, tax, reporting obligations and banking: All of these will play a role on how your business will be able to operate. It is imperative to obtain the advice of a full-service professional firm in the UAE that can throw light on the various regulations and obligations of a business to be incorporated in a free zone or mainland. Such a firm will then be able to offer a holistic solution to your requirements.

So, what are the benefits of starting a business in the UAE?

  • Well, firstly, the tax benefits. The UAE has no corporate tax, withholding tax or any other form of direct tax. The only tax is VAT (at 5%) which is an indirect tax. Businesses keep the profits they make.  An audit firm in Dubai such as PKF UAE can assist you with international tax planning and filing of other reports if you are a part of a multinational company.
  • Dubai offers a long-established economic system, along with sophisticated financial institutions and banking procedures. The infrastructure of the UAE and Dubai is second to none.
  • There are minimum trade barriers, simple reporting for most businesses and there are no restrictions on repatriation of profits. Coupled with minimal exchange controls on currencies and ease of doing business, leaves the promoter free to concentrate on his/her business.

Dubai offers a safe and secure environment to live and work and bring up a family whilst conducting profitable business. How can PKF UAE assist you?

  • We have a team of company formation specialists with in-depth knowledge and expertise regarding the various laws and regulations and who can provide tailored solutions and specific advice to your business needs.
  • We are one of the leading audit, accounting, tax and consulting firms in Dubai which can offer you complete guidance on your entry strategy, right from the registration procedure to licensing to legal and compliance requirements, helping you to stay focused on your business while we manage the tertiaries.