Top Profitable business to start in Dubai

10 business ideas in Dubai (2021 edition)

10 business ideas in Dubai

Dubai’s business environment is famous the world the world over. As well as an incredibly attractive tax regime – zero percent on both personal and corporate incomes – the emirate sits in the perfect global location from which to trade with Europe, Asia, North Africa and beyond.

Dubai is also known to be a welcoming environment for entrepreneurs – with numerous incentives and incubator schemes available to help startups thrive and grow. The emirate also regularly ranks within the top ten in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index.

Of course such an environment is home to a wealth of great opportunities, in everything from trading to tourism.

So, if you’re looking to start new business in Dubai, here are 10 potential business ideas for your consideration.

1. Restaurant

The UAE has more food and beverage outlets per capita than anywhere else in the world. But don’t let that put you off.

The Emirates, and Dubai in particular, has an insatiable appetite for eating out. Around a third of residents eat out on average at least two to three times per week. What’s more, 17 percent eat out or order takeaway every single day.

This is one of the low investment ideas on this list. You don’t need a huge initial outlay to sate the appetite of Dubai’s army of diners – you could open a food truck, market stall or cafeteria.

2. Events company

Dubai is a global events hub. In total, the emirate’s events industry is estimated to be worth more than AED 165m (USD 45m). This is only set to grow with Expo 2020 on the horizon – the largest event of its kind to be held in the Middle East.

There is plenty of scope for business ideas within the events industry, from large corporate exhibitions and trade shows to private events such as weddings and parties.

3. Construction

While construction may be an industry that requires a little more starting capital, the potential return can be enormous.

In early 2017, Dubai was home to over 3,200 active projects, worth an estimated USD 245bn. This figure has likely increased since in the run up to Expo 2020 – an event that has contributed some USD 42.5bn in construction projects.

4. Health and wellbeing

Dubai’s population is incredibly health conscious. So much so that the emirate contributes hugely to a UAE health and wellness market worth almost USD 3bn – the largest in the Middle East.

There is plenty of opportunity here for both healthcare and non-healthcare-professional. The health and wellbeing market is home to numerous subsectors. You could be a personal trainer, masseuse, or holistic therapist, or organise wellness programmes or trade in vitamins and supplements.

5. Transport

The inhabitants of a thriving city need to get from A to B – and many want to get there in style. That’s what lends this particular business idea so much scope. You could operate a bike taxi service, right up to limousine hire and chauffeur services.

Be sure to do your research first to get to know both the local area and the needs of its inhabitants. The demand for executive cars will be far higher in some areas of the emirate than others, for example.

Business woman just launched her business in Dubai6. Freight and cargo

Dubai is incredibly well-connected by sea, land and air, making it the perfect location from which to operate a freight or cargo business.

Essentially, this business entails assisting manufacturers or traders with shipping their goods overseas. Setting up near the busy Jebel Ali port will certainly make your business attractive to the numerous Dubai businesses that ship products overseas every day.

7. Real estate

Dubai’s real estate industry is famed for its impressive returns. After a relatively slow period, some areas in Dubai are returning yields of more than six percent — that’s higher than many major cities including London, Singapore and Hong Kong.

There are other opportunities here too, outside of investment. The introduction of long-term visas, along with the relaxing of foreign ownership rules is likely to increase the number of expatriates in Dubai, which in turn increases the demand for property management services.

8. Web development

Here we have one of the more lucrative online business ideas in Dubai. Thousands of new businesses launch here every year – and they all need websites.

If you already have the requisite skills then all you require is a laptop and an internet connection. If you are new to the craft, training courses are plentiful and affordable.

9. Cleaning services

While it may not sound glamorous, cleaning is big business in Dubai. Not only is the emirate full of office buildings that require cleaning at the end of the working day, there’s also numerous shops, restaurants, hotels and bars that need to be kept in top condition.

Then there is the personal sector. Dubai is home to many business expats who are happy to pay for the services of a company to keep their apartment nice and clean.

10. Day-care services

There’s another service that Dubai’s hardworking expats are very much in need of, and that’s day-care.

This particular venture may take a little time to get fully up and running as you’ll need to earn trust and build a customer-base. However, startup costs are minimal, making it an attractive proposition for any entrepreneurs launching on a tight budget. In fact, day-care is one of many popular freelance business ideas in Dubai.

Starting your business in Dubai

Whether you’re looking for business ideas in Dubai for ladies or men, setting up here is both easy and affordable. The cost of registering a company will depend on the type and size of your business. However, if you wish to start up on a budget, it is certainly doable.

Be warned, however: while the application process isn’t difficult, it does require an expert eye. Any errors in your application could lead it to be delayed or rejected. That’s why it’s often a good idea to work with a company setup specialist to help you establish your business.

When you work with a company setup expert all you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about the nature of your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest – managing your license and visa applications, communicating with all relevant departments and authorities, and reporting back when you’re ready to start trading.


How to setup company in Dubai freezone

There are around 40 Free Zones operating in the UAE, with more under construction. Each Free Zone is designed around one or more commercial categories and only offers licences to companies within those categories.

The main attractions of establishing an entity in one of the UAE’s Free Zones is that there are no foreign ownership restrictions and companies are governfored by an independent Free Zone Authority (FZA), which is responsible for issuing operating licences and regulating the activities of companies within the Free Zone.

The UAE is now a major business hub and ideal for setting up a business or a representative office, there are now over 40 different “Free Trade Zones” in the UAE so identifying the best Free Zone through which to conduct business in the region can be a tedious task. It is also a common misconception that a Free Zone Company is an offshore company, however, in spite of their similarities; they do also have very differing characteristics.

In addition to enabling shareholders, directors and employees to obtain residency visas in the UAE, the benefits of a Free Zone include:

  • 100% foreign ownership (no requirement for a local partner/sponsor);
  • 100% repatriation of capital and profits;
  • 100% corporate and personal income tax exemption;
  • Absence of currency restrictions;
  • Wide variety of licensable activities;
  • Abundant and inexpensive energy;
  • Modern, efficient communications;
  • Logistic efficiencies due to business cluster effect;
  • Serviced desks and offices for SMEs and start-ups;
  • Excellent support services.

The nature of the business activity that you intend to carry out will have a big influence on selecting the Free Zone to meet your requirements. The principal Free Zones and their licence activities include:

  • Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) – Commodities Trade and Exchanges;
  • Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) – Trading, General Trading, Service, Logistics and Industrial;
  • Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) – Banking, Financial Services and Legal;
  • Dubai World Central (DWC) – Aviation, Logistics, Light industry and Ancillary Services;
  • Dubai Knowledge Park (DKP) – Human Resources Management, Training and Personal Development;
  • Dubai Internet City (DIC) – Internet and Communications Technology;
  • Dubai Media City (DMC) – Media related activities;
  • Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO) – Information Technology, Telecom, Electronic and Engineering
  • Dubai Healthcare City (DHCC) – Healthcare, Medical Education and Research, Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment;
  • Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) – Trading, General Trading, Service, Industrial and Educational;
  • Fujairah Creative City (FCC) – Media, Consulting, Communications, Design and Technology.


Investors can either register a new company in the form of a Free Zone Establishment (FZE) or a Free Zone Company (FZC) – an FZE has one shareholder and an FZC has two or more – or simply establish a branch or representative office of their existing or parent company based within the UAE or abroad. An FZE or FZC is a limited liability company governed by the rules and regulations of the Free Zone in which it is established. The provisions of the UAE Commercial Companies Law (CCL) do not apply.

In order to begin the process of setting up a Free Zone Company, we will require the following documentation and due diligence from all shareholders/directors of the proposed new company:

  • Certified Passport Copy and UAE Visa/UAE entry stamp (if non-resident)
  • 2 x Proofs of Address (dated within 3 months)
  • Bank or Professional Reference Letter
  • Curriculum Vitae (summary of professional history)
  • Company Application Form (which we will provide)

Please note that some Free Zones may request a detailed business plan, depending on the business activity of the proposed new company. Sovereign has a variety of templates in order to assist you.

Once a legal presence has been established in a Free Zone, the business will need to lease premises or land and acquire an operating licence from the FZA. Different types of licences apply in the different types of free zone. Companies with trade and industrial licences can only conduct business within the Free Zone or abroad. To sell products in the UAE, a UAE official agent is required, and a joint venture needs to be formed.


Why Dubai is heaven for Entrepreneur.

rom its rather humble beginnings, Dubai has come a long way in establishing itself as the successful, industrious business centre it is today. This is due of course in no small part to the discovery of oil in the region in the mid-1960s which kick-started rapid economic growth, transforming the city from a small trading community into one of the most vibrant social and business locations in the world in just 40 short years.

When we look at how far the city has come in such a short space of time, it is easy to see why starting a business here is such an attractive prospect to many entrepreneurs. In fact, Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED) reports a 13% year-on-year increase in new startups looking to do business in the city.

But because it is so easy to get lost in the bright lights, flashy cars, penthouses, and “five-star everything” that have become synonymous with Dubai over the years, it is also easy to overlook the specific fundamentals in place that make this city so attractive for businesses large and small. Let’s now take a look at five reasons why Dubai is so well-suited for setting up and growing businesses in just about any industry.

1. Rapid economic growth

According to the 2014 Metroglobal Report, Dubai is the world’s fifth fastest growing city economy. When you consider that the city-state was ranked in 18th place the previous year, this is a massive 13-point jump – and it puts it way ahead of some other major cities, including London, which came in at number 26.


And it must be pointed out that Dubai – despite what many around the world falsely think – does not owe all of this success to oil. Far from it, in fact, as it is the most successful economy in the United Arab Emirates to have diversified away from oil. A vast array of industries now contribute to the city’s success – from logistics to construction to commerce to tourism to trade – as more and more new businesses look to take advantage of the region’s stable and rapidly accelerating economy.

2. Large, available workforce

One of the biggest struggles when starting up any new enterprise is finding the right people to work with. Dubai wins again. Its liberal and cost-effective labour laws, along with its desirable working location, make it both easy and – perhaps most importantly – rather affordable, to recruit employees from almost anywhere in the world. The ease at which expatriate workers – who make up a staggering 90% of the city’s labour force – can enter and exit the UAE also makes it easier for businesses to scale their resources up and down as needed.

3. Location, infrastructure and reputation

Dubai’s location, infrastructure and business reputation – the jewel in the crown of the Emirates – makes it not only an ideal place to conduct business from, but also an incredibly easy place to attract business to.

Situated at the heart of the global business behemoth that is the UAE, businesses in Dubai have unrivalled access to the 1.5 billion strong consumer markets of Africa, West Asia, Eastern Europe and the neighbouring Middle Eastern countries. As thousands of new businesses discover each year, Dubai lies at the gateway between East and West, making it one of the most popular destinations for trade and investment around the world.

The city’s state of the art transport links – which include two of the region’s largest ports and the Arab world’s largest airline – also provide outstanding physical links to rest of the world, cementing its place at the epicentre of the global economy.

4. Low barriers to entry and governmental support

Aside from the outside factors that make now a great time to launch a startup in Dubai, the actual mechanics of setting up a business make it an attractive proposition as well.

Registering a new business is incredibly straightforward and affordable, and can be achieved in a matter of weeks. What’s more, the government’s low-barriers to entry and business-focused policies help to incentivise investment in new businesses, as well as facilitate trade links within the Emirates and throughout the rest of the world.

In fact, the government of the UAE places new business at the heart of its plan for long-term economic stability, which is reflected in its favourable business regulations and its state-of-the-art investment infrastructure designed to support small and growing organisations.

Further incentives such as the absence of foreign exchange controls, trade barriers and quotas help companies in Dubai remain competitive in the global market – while labour, energy and financing costs are also competitive in comparison to the rest of the world.

5. Taxation

Finally, it would be impossible to talk about the benefits of doing business in Dubai without mentioning taxation – or better to say lack of it. With the exception of the oil and banking industries, corporate tax for businesses in Dubai remains at a flat rate of zero – offering an unrivalled competitive advantage when it comes to trading with the rest of the world.

Know what you are getting into

Of course, positive economic data in an environment that fosters entrepreneurialism is one thing, but as with any startup anywhere in the world it’s vital to have a full understanding of the intricacies of the market you wish to enter. Many new businesses get off on the wrong foot by acting on the wrong information. So you will need to ensure your business plan is viable and you have an understanding of the legal and licensing requirements of launching your business.

Working in conjunction with a partner like Virtuzone helps new businesses ensure that they are ready to go to market and succeed – boosting sales, increasing brand awareness and ultimately helping them to take their place among the thousands of other organisations that make Dubai perhaps the greatest city in the world today in which to start and build a business.

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