Dubai has steadily been climbing the ranks as a global commercial capital and with aggressive legal reforms to boost foreign investment, including implementing long-term visas and introducing free zones which simply business operations for foreign owners. All of these conditions make setting up a business in Dubai incredibly attractive, especially for foreign nationals. Let’s take a closer look at the top 7 reasons to establish a business in Dubai in 2019.
Dubai has been identified as one of the commercial capitals of the Middle East – the city has long been recognized as a regional trade and business hub, but in recent years has firmly taken the lead in this race. A new survey of global business hubs shows that Dubai has been climbing the ranks in global commercial centers and is now ranked 15th in the world. The survey cites Dubai’s well-connected transport system and low-tax business real estate and financial sector development as why it is a regional and global leader in this regard. This, combined with thriving commerce and retail sectors, and the city’s geographical location in between the established economies of Europe and Asia, and the emerging ones of Africa, make it a great location to start a business.
The emirate has been looking for other ways to grow its economy, besides oil, and diversify into other sectors. This strategy has a mixed history, leading to the 2008/09 debt crisis. On the other hand, it has led to a strong, business-friendly reputation which is known worldwide, as the government promotes regulations which encourage businesses across various sectors. A report earlier this year stated that the UAE’s central bank said economic activity in the non-oil sector were expected to improve in 2019 as a result of stimulus packages announced by Abu Dhabi and Dubai and other economic initiatives to ease the cost of doing business in the emirates. The UAE has introduced a range of rules and regulations which a favorable to businesses operating within its borders, and plans to introduce more in the near future. We will cover some of these in the sections below.
The United Arab Emirates government passed a new foreign direct investment (FDI) law in 2018 to accelerate investment. The law aims to make it easier to do business in the country, and is sure to not only encourage new businesses to open here but make things much easier for businesses which do. The law includes various moves favorable to foreign investors, including allowing up to 100% foreign ownership of businesses. Foreign direct investments into Dubai rose more than 41 per cent in 2018. This is the first time the emirate has achieved total foreign direct investment capital exceeding US$10bn in a financial year, according to the site quoting Fahad Al Gergawi, chief executive of Dubai FDI, the government body responsible for the promotion of foreign investments in the emirate. This is just one indicator of how this economy is open and receptive to foreign investors and business owners.
Dubai is set to host the world Expo 2020, scheduled to kick off in October 2020. The event is expected to attract 25 million visits over 173 days mostly by people coming in from other countries. It is expected that 11 million people from the UAE and 14 million from overseas will visit Dubai during the expo leading to a massive tourism boost, which will be a great time to be in business in the city. It is also anticipated that the expo will be a hotbed of innovation around energy, technology, finance and other sectors which will have great flow on effects for businesses in Dubai.
The announcement of new long-term visa laws that will be granted to the foreign population, particularly investors will consolidate Dubai’s position as a primary location for international investors. Thanks to new regulations, it will be relatively easy and straightforward for foreigners who own part or all of a business in the country to secure a long-term visa to live there. This visa arrangement will make the UAE one of the easiest commercial hubs in the world for foreign nationals to settle and start their own enterprise.
The emirate’s Silk Road Strategy is also aimed at boosting global trade. Named for the ancient network of trade routes between the East and the West the strategy outlines ways to boost air and sea freight and enhance logistics. This strategy manifests in a range of policies, laws and regulations which make Dubai a great environment for foreign business owners.
There are a number of free zones in Dubai set up to encourage foreign trade and investment. These are business districts well equipped with all the amenities, facilities and communication infrastructure necessary to set up a business and service the needs of investors. In the past, all companies had to be owned at least 51 percent by a UAE National. However, not only have these laws been changed to allow foreign ownership of certain kinds of businesses, but any businesses registered in a Free Zone is allowed 100 per cent foreign ownership. Furthermore, these businesses are exempt from taxes and customs duties, and are not subject to levies on exports/imports. Other trading benefits include no restrictions on recruitment or sponsorship. There are a variety of business activities being supported by the free zone policy making it easy for an entrepreneur to start their business at one of them. There are currently 12 free zones in Dubai at the airport, the Gold and Diamond Park, Dubai Internet City, the Knowledge Village, Silicon Oasis, Healthcare City, International Financial Centre, Sports City, the Dubai Palm Island Development, among others.