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How to start an online business in UAE – A Comprehensive Guide

Online Busine start up

Starting a business in Dubai is straightforward, but important considerations must be remembered. The process can be time-consuming and tedious, with multiple steps involved. It is recommended that you seek advice from business setup experts or do thorough research to ensure that you are aware of the implications of your decisions.

Businesses must embrace technology and establish a strong online presence to expand their reach. In this blog post, we will provide all the necessary information on how to start a business in uae.

Why start a business in Dubai?

The business environments in Dubai and the UAE are highly welcoming and supportive, resulting in the launch of over 20,000 new businesses in Dubai alone last year. Interestingly, a large portion of these businesses were registered by foreign entrepreneurs. Notably, 80% and 90% of the UAE’s workforce comprises foreign nationals.

Entrepreneurs worldwide flock to UAE and Dubai for business for many compelling reasons. The main benefits include:

  • Low tax rates: The UAE has no income tax but has implemented a 5% VAT since January 2018.
  • Dynamic economy: The Emirates has the second-largest economy in the Arab world, with a GDP of approximately AED 692bn. It offers a diverse range of industries for starting a business, including healthcare, hospitality, technology, and trade.
  • Significant quality of life: The UAE ranked 23rd in the Best Countries Index, just behind Spain and Ireland and ahead of Portugal and Greece.
  • Startup support: The Emirates houses numerous startup incubators and funding programs aimed at expediting business expansion.

Dubai’s business future appears promising per the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report. The UAE is anticipated to lead the economic growth in the Arabian Gulf with an estimated 2.5% increase this year. This is considerably higher than Saudi Arabia, the region’s largest economy, expected to grow by only 0.4%.

If you’re curious about starting a business in Dubai, don’t worry. This guide will make company formation in Dubai easy if you follow the steps.

How to start an online business in UAE Dubai business setup

how to start online shopping business in uae

Starting an online business in Dubai involves multiple steps and critical decisions.

Will you establish your business in a free zone or on the mainland?

When starting an online business in the UAE, you must choose between living on the mainland or in a free zone. The mainland setup allows direct trading with the local market and government contracts. Free zone setup offers zero tax rates, customs tax exemption, no currency restrictions, and the ability to repatriate all capital and profit.

What will you name your business?

Avoid offensive language and references to Allah or Islam when naming a business in Dubai. Use your full name to include it in the company name and verify availability before registering. Seek help from a company formation expert if needed.

Creating your license application

How to start a business in UAE, you need a license. Apply to the emirate’s free zone or municipality/Department of Economic Development. Submit necessary documents like passport copies and application forms. You can work with the Trade License Zone for help with the application process, relevant authorities, and advice on the best setup.

Applying for your visas

While it is sometimes possible to start and operate a UAE business without residing in the UAE, you will require a visa if you wish to relocate here. As will any employees you decide to take on.

The number of visas you can apply for will depend on the size of your business and where you choose to set up. When it comes to applying for permits for dependants – such as domestic staff or your spouse or children – the process is equally straightforward, providing you meet the eligibility criteria.

Online Business Ideas in Dubai

Online Business Ideas in Dubai

After making these crucial decisions, the next question is: which online business to start in Dubai? Fortunately, several options require minimal effort and expenses.

Start an online shop.

E-commerce is a thriving industry in the UAE, with a market value of over USD 10 billion. Starting an e-commerce business is a straightforward process that only requires a license, internet access, and desirable products.

Become an influencer

Social media influence is a rapidly growing sector in the online business industry. The Instagram influencer market is currently valued at USD 1.3 billion and is projected to double by the end of 2020.

Start tutoring

Tutoring can be profitable if you possess a skill or knowledge that others can learn from. The online tutoring market will be worth USD 120 billion by 2021.

Try web design or development.

In the UAE, web design and development can be very profitable. Thousands of new businesses are established yearly, requiring a website. If you possess the necessary skills, you can easily market yourself. Otherwise, numerous online and offline training programs are available to acquire the skills.

Sell marketing services

In online marketing, blogging, social selling, SEO, and vlogging are in high demand. The potential rewards are significant if you can differentiate yourself in this field.

Cost of starting an online business in Dubai

Starting an online business in Dubai can cost between AED 15,000 and AED 50,000, depending on your specific needs. The total cost is influenced by factors such as the size of your business, the number of visas you require, whether you need office space, and whether you choose a free zone or the mainland.

Choosing a free zone is a cost-effective method for keeping startup expenses low. For a comprehensive cost breakdown, consulting a company setup agent is recommended.

Conclusion: How to be an Entrepreneur in Dubai

Dubai’s thriving business environment, government incentives, and easy setup for new ventures make it an attractive destination for ambitious entrepreneurs. Although the city has some contradictions and new social paradigms, its hospitality and progressive strategies reward those with ambition. If you’re embarking on a journey to Dubai, remember these points to ensure a smooth transition. However, seeking professional advice throughout the process is crucial. Dubai has an unparalleled “can-do” attitude, so the opportunity is yours.


Why start a business in Dubai?

Dubai offers a welcoming business environment with low tax rates, a dynamic economy, a high quality of life, and strong startup support, making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs.

What are the key steps to start an online business in Dubai?

Starting an online business in Dubai involves:

  • Choosing between mainland and free zone setups.
  • Selecting a suitable company name.
  • Applying for a business license.
  • Obtaining the necessary visas.

What are the options for setting up in Dubai, the mainland, or the free zone?

The mainland setup allows trading with the local market and government contracts, while the free zone setup offers advantages like zero tax rates, customs tax exemption, and repatriation of capital and profits.

What are some online business ideas for Dubai?

Online business opportunities in Dubai include:

  • Starting an e-commerce shop.
  • Becoming an influencer.
  • Offering tutoring services, web design, and development.
  • Providing marketing services.

What is the cost of starting an online business in Dubai?

The cost of starting an online business in Dubai can range from AED 15,000 to AED 50,000, depending on factors such as business size, visa requirements, office space needs, and the choice between a free zone or mainland setup. Consulting a company setup agent for a cost breakdown is advisable.

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