If you are looking for business in Dubai, make sure to read out the following simple advice before going forward:
- You must have a good knowledge of the region. Be prepared to undertake extensive research into the business sector you aim to operate within. You must have a viable business plan, which includes a study of the market conditions, the competition and your forecast results. You must be prepared to find the necessary investment from your own resources or through your bank and preferably by other means than applying locally, particularly if you’re new to the region and without a track record. A credible plan might attract local support, possibly government support.
- The law requires that you have a local partner who holds the majority interest and can therefore control the business (as well as close it, if he feels like it…). The local partner, be it a company or an individual, doesn’t need to contribute to the start-up investment or participate financially at all. As with self-employment, there are various ways that a partner can be remunerated. The local partner requirement is currently under review in some states, however, in order to encourage foreign investment.
- When the business is registered, you must show the Ministry of Commerce that you have a substantial sum of money to invest. The required sum varies between the states (it’s between $10,000/£6,500 and $50,000/£33,500 in most cases) and is regarded as a guarantee against liabilities, although you may withdraw the money shortly afterwards!
- The process is complex and financially risky, meaning that local knowledge is crucial. You must also consult a good lawyer from the outset. An experienced lawyer will guide you through the registration complexities and his help will be vital in protecting your interests. This applies whether you’re opening a modest shop or a major enterprise. As is the case all over the world, there are unofficial businesses operating in the region, but if anything goes wrong or you’re ripped off, you have no legal recourse whatsoever.
Don’t let these warnings put you off. All isn’t doom and gloom, and many people have developed successful, highly profitable businesses in Dubai. New operations are encouraged by the authorities and your local partner might be enthusiastically supportive (or he might be a severe liability). Export and manufacturing industries are especially strongly supported by government, particularly as regards the acquisition of land on which to construct a factory. If you set up such a business in a free trade zone, of which there are several in the region, it’s granted exemptions from import and export duties, commercial taxes, building and property licence fees, land tax and restrictions on the transfer of capital invested in the zone.
This article is written by Senior Business Consultant, Mr. Ramesh.