James Swallow

Expert advice on setting up a business in UAE/Dubai/Abu Dhabi

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The UAE has come a long way over the last couple of decades, transforming into a globally recognised business hub.

The perfect mix of old and new, contrasting historical architecture with sleek, bold, futuristic design, its cities look like the hubs of the future too. Historically, the region has always been a centre of trade between West and East, and today the UAE continues this legacy in accessible and modern ways.

Why should you set up a business in the UAE?

There are many reasons why starting up in Dubai, Abu Dhabi or the wider UAE region can benefit you and your business. From the region’s efficient infrastructure and relatively straightforward licensing, the UAE is incredibly attractive for both foreign investment and businesses.

The government encourages an open economic policy, and has inspired investment both nationally and internationally in many different sectors. The UAE caters well for foreign investors and entrepreneurs, and many new businesses find the process of establishing a company a worthwhile experience.

The current population of the UAE is around 9,300,000, of which 80 per cent are expats from all over the world.

What kind of opportunities are there?

Dubai’s economy provides an appealing climate for investment. It is the leading business hub city in the region and one of the most progressive economic markets in the world. It’s bursting with opportunities in various industries and sectors, including tourism and travel, construction and development, regional transport and logistics, corporate regional headquarters, banking and finance, manufacturing, IT and communications, media and business consultancy.

The diversification of the region in business terms is a deliberate economic strategy to reduce the reliance of the region on Oil and Gas businesses. And the success of Dubai in particular, with its firm basis as the region’s premier business centre for international investors, shows that it’s moving in the right direction.

Key advantages of starting a business in the UAE

James Swallow business startupThe economy is open and there are no direct taxes on personal income or corporate profits (there are exceptions to this in oil companies, import duty from certain zones and some foreign banks).

Certain industries and sectors such as Healthcare, Constriction and Oil and Gas are stringently regulated and you need to ensure your set up conforms to local regulations in order to be able to provide services or sell products within these sectors.

Obtaining resident visas for investors, managers, staff and their family members can also be a complicated so it is essential that you plan ahead to ensure the relevant licences and correct corporate structure is in place to bring people in smoothly.

At PRO Partner Group, we can take the heavy lifting of the corporate set up and visa logistics away from you and make your transition to living and working in the UAE as simple as possible.

Living in the UAE

There is a generally very high standard of living in Dubai and the wider region, with excellent living conditions.

As a member of the UAE, Dubai is an economically and socially stable environment, benefiting also from a low crime rate. It’s also financially sound, with a market built on cutting edge technology, stability of the region and well-defined regulations.

Foreign ownership

Overseas businesses and individuals can own up to a maximum of 49% for onshore companies, including limited liability companies established in Dubai. Foreign businesses can be granted up to 100% ownership for professional companies, representative offices of overseas companies, branches and businesses set up in Free Zones.

The UAE’s economic strategy has built up around widening investment in telecommunications, energy, infrastructure and transport. This strategy has paid off and Dubai is now one of the most impressive infrastructure based business hubs in the world.

There are seven main industrial areas, specialist free zones, two sea ports, an international airport and cargo facility, state of the art telecoms, reliable utilities and leading technology. The service sector is integrated within this infrastructure, including banking, finance, legal, retail, health and much more.

For more information on how to set up a business in the UAE, contact the team at PRO Partner Group.

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

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