James Swallow

How to set up a well-being business in the UAE

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The UAE is a country that takes a very holistic view of well-being; the government recently introduced a Minister of Happiness, and healthy lifestyle campaigns are popular across the nation.

In fact, promoting well-being, health, vitality and quality of life is both valued and valuable. Take yoga, for example, which I recently discussed. The love for yoga united thousands from across the region last month as, on the International Day of Yoga on 21 June, people flocked to different venues across the UAE to celebrate it.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called for the day to be declared a global celebration of yoga back in 2014. An ancient practice that’s now a worldwide phenomenon, yoga is a popular activity in the UAE, presenting a lucrative opportunity for new businesses in the country.


Why set up a Yoga Centre?

As a popular and accessible sport for people of all ages and nationalities, the demand for yoga in the UAE is growing, therefore presenting opportunity.

The most common commercial entity you can establish is by Limited Liability Company (LLC) in the UAE.

james swallow yogaOnce formed, it provides the most flexibility and scope to trade as well as the ability to set up more centres/studios around Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE by setting up Branches of that main LLC.

As with many countries in the GCC region, commercial law in the UAE states that one or more local Emirati partners (individuals or companies) must have a minimum ownership of 51% of the shares in an LLC, meaning that a foreign investor therefore cannot own more than 49% of the business. Local partners are not obliged to contribute practically to a business. However, the profit and loss does not have to reflect the shareholder percentages. This shareholding issue naturally raises some concerns for foreign investors.


How do I find the right Partner?

One option is to partner with a professional corporate local partnership specialist, such as Pro Partner Group, eliminating the need for a protracted search for the ideal local partner. We can ensure that agreements are in place to ensure the foreign investors can fully manage the business, and retain the intellectual property and assets. We also ensure a penalty free company sale strategy for the foreign investor.

If you are considering establishing a yoga business in the UAE, you must seek approval from Youth and Sports Welfare and from the Ministry of Public Health. We can also help with this and guide you on the specific measures needed to establish a studio that complies with regulations, particularly as where male and female areas will need to be kept separate and also if you wish to offer yoga and activities for children.

PRO Partner Group can help with all regulatory approvals, check studio for compliance and provide ongoing Government Liaison services for staff visas, work permits and approvals for trainers and instructors.

James Swallow is Director of Middle East based PRO Partner Group, which specialises in providing foreign investors with advice on the most efficient and profitable way to set up your business in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, the wider UAE and Oman.

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