James Swallow

New business ideas for the UAE

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If you’re aiming to set up a small business in Dubai or the wider UAE, then you’ll need to consider the sector you’re heading into.James Swallow business idea

The UAE is a strong business hub, with many benefits for business owners, not least access to the millions of consumer markets in West Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, CIS countries and the neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are prime areas for people starting businesses at the moment, thanks to the favourable economic conditions and benefits offered. So, which sectors are advisable?

Construction and development

There is huge opportunity for engineering professionals and others within the building and construction sector in the UAE. There are developments being approved and going up all the time. Another area within this sector would be businesses that sell the raw materials used in construction.

Financial services

There are a lot of high profile and large-scale businesses in Dubai and the wider UAE region. Therefore, there is a high level of demand for financial services professionals, including auditors and accountants. If this is the area of your expertise then setting up a business that offers financial services in the UAE is certainly worth looking into.


The UAE is just as health conscious as everywhere else, and there is a growing demand for all sorts of healthcare provision. This includes everything from medical waste recycling and pharmaceutical distribution to professional childcare and veterinary care. Professional health care providers have an excellent opportunity to set up a private business in the UAE.

Eco-positive businesses

The explosion in growth across the UAE has led to a rapid increase in environmental pollutants, including everything from construction to the effects of industrialisation. As UAE residents become more aware of this widespread damage they are making moves to protect their environment. There is a massive opportunity in this region for business that offer environmental protection services, such as waste recycling and renewable energies.

Transport and logistics

It’s a sector that will never die, and an ideal area to start a business in the UAE. Whether you’re thinking about haulage and logistics, a car hire or limousine business or the mostly untapped niche of medical transportation, there are plenty of areas to consider.

Tourism and travel

Dubai’s tourism is increasing every year. Recent figures show that the number of international overnight visitors to Dubai was 15.27 million in 2016, an increase of around 1 million on 2015’s figures. Tourists have been increasing steadily year on year, leading to endless opportunities in the form of hotels, food and beverage and much more. As well as the services and provision for tourists, there are also opportunities for specialist and high-end travel agencies.

Professional childcare

In an area where the majority of the population (particularly in Dubai but also throughout the UAE) are professionals, there is a corresponding need to for high quality, professional childcare facilities. Starting an agency or working as a provider are valid choices for setting up a company. If you have the skills and the experience, this is a great sector to be in.

Whichever sector you are starting your business in, there are strict protocols and steps to take when starting up in the UAE. At PRO Partner Group, we can help you navigate your way through the paperwork and take you step by step through the process.

In brief, here are the major steps you will need to take:

  • Do your research – You must follow due process before setting up a business in the UAE. You need to conduct feasibility studies and understand the market if you want to succeed.
  • Write a business plan- You need a robust, well considered, feasible business plan. This will help you find high quality local partners. For particular industries you will have to submit it to the appropriate authorities before being granted a business or professional licence.
  • Find a local business partner – Legally, you must have a UAE-based partner of local agent. In the case of a full UAE LLC the local partner will own 51% of your business so it’s imperative that you find a reliable and trustworthy partner.
  • Consider free zones – There are more than 40 free zones within the UAE, which will grant you certain tax exemptions if you start your company within them. However, they can also restrict the kind of business you can do Onshore (ie. outside of the free zones).
  • Register your business – When you have satisfied the requirements of the ministry of commerce in Dubai, you can apply for business registration. We can help you with this process as well as acting as secure local partner or Local Service Agent as required.

James Swallow is Director of Middle East based PRO Partner Group, which specialises in company formation, secure local partnership and support services in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE and Oman.

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