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How to Start a Business in the UAE as a Foreigner – Kavan Choksi

As the birthplace of numerous successful brands and home to a rapidly growing economy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become a popular destination for entrepreneurs looking to start a business. However, as a foreigner, there are certain steps you need to take to set up shop here, according to local experts like Kavan Choksi. Starting a business in the UAE as a foreigner brings its own set of challenges and rewards, just as it would in your home country. If you’re contemplating on spreading your wings beyond the UAE in the future, knowledge about how to create an LLC can be beneficial, presenting a versatile business model to consider when starting a venture internationally.

About the UAE

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates located in the southeastern region of the Arabian Peninsula. The country has a population of 9.2 million and an area of 83,600 square kilometers. The capital city is Abu Dhabi, while the largest city is Dubai. The UAE’s diversified economy strongly focuses on tourism, trade, and finance. In recent years, the country has also invested heavily in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.

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Despite its relatively small size, the UAE is one of the most powerful economies in the world. In 2019, its GDP was $ 427 billion, making it the 31st largest economy in the world. The country’s per capita GDP was $ 48,760 in 2018, ranking it among the world’s highest. The UAE’s economy is expected to grow by 2.5% in 2020.

The UAE is a federation of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah, and Umm al-Quwain. The seventh emirate, Dubai, is by far the most populous and largest in terms of land area. Abu Dhabi is the capital and largest emirate by population; however, Dubai is the financial and business hub of the country.

Choose Your Business Structure

There are four main types of business structures in the UAE: sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), civil company (CC), and branch office/representative office (BO/RO). Of these four structures, LLCs are the most popular among foreign investors looking to start a business here. This is because LLCs offer foreign investors greater flexibility and control over their businesses than any other type of company structure.

Obtain Your Trade License

Once you’ve decided on your business structure, you will need to officially obtain a trade license from the Department of Economic Development (DED) to start your business in the UAE. The type of trade license you will need will depend on your chosen business activity and location.

Register Your Company With The Chamber of Commerce

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After obtaining your DED’s trade license, you must register your company with the Chamber of Commerce (CoC). The CoC is responsible for issuing commercial licenses and certificates and regulating businesses within its jurisdiction.

GetYour Visa Sorted Out

If you want to live and work in the UAE long-term, you will need to obtain a work visa before starting your business here. You can apply for a work visa through your employer or a government institution such as DED or UAE Visa Online. Once granted a work visa, you can apply for residency.

Final Thoughts

Setting up a business as a foreigner in the United Arab Emirates takes some time investment but can be done following the correct steps. Keep this guide close by as you go through each step so that you’ll be ready to set up shop and do business before long.