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What attracts businesses to Dubai?

Dubai has emerged as a leading global business hub due to its strategic location, pro-business policies, world-class infrastructure, and availability of skilled talent. Some of the key factors that make Dubai an attractive destination for companies are:

What attracts businesses to Dubai?

Business-friendly environment

Dubai offers a secure, stable, and business-friendly ecosystem for companies to operate and grow. Some highlights include:

  • Minimal regulations and bureaucracy: Setting up a business in Dubai is relatively easier compared to other leading financial centers. There are minimal regulatory compliances and paperwork.
  • Attractive tax regime: Except for oil and gas companies, businesses do not need to pay income tax in Dubai. There are no personal income taxes as well. The tax-free regime boosts profitability.
  • Free trade zones: Dubai has over 20 well-developed free zones offering 100% business ownership and zero taxes. These zones simplify business set up for foreign investors.
  • Business incubators: Dubai has a thriving ecosystem of accelerators and incubators like In5, AstroLabs, Flat6Labs supporting startups and SME growth.

Strategic location

Dubai is strategically located to offer easy access to over 3 billion customers across the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia. Some aspects amplifying its location benefits are:

  • Global connectivity: Emirates and other leading airlines offer direct flights connecting Dubai to every major global destination. The airport handles over 190 million passengers annually.
  • Trade gateway: Dubai ports and customs framework facilitate regional as well as international trade flows. DP World operates some of the largest trans-shipment hubs globally.
  • Time zone advantage: Being located between the Asian and European time zones, Dubai offers overlapping work timings with most global financial markets.

Infrastructure and real estate

Dubai has invested heavily in its infrastructure, transportation network, and commercial plus residential projects to meet the needs of businesses:

  • Ports and logistics: Companies benefit from Dubai’s advanced shipping infrastructure including Port Rashid, Jebel Ali Port and Al Maktoum International Airport.
  • IT infrastructure: Dubai Internet City and other hubs provide state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and uninterrupted connectivity. Uptime is 99.9% guaranteed for many data centers.
  • Free zones: There are customized free zone areas and office spaces tailored to every industry including finance, logistics, manufacturing, IT, media etc.
  • Tourism projects: New hospitality, entertainment, retail, sports, eco-tourism projects are expanding options for visitors and investors.

Lifestyle quality

Dubai offers an excellent standard of living, safety, amenities, and recreation choices for resident expats:

  • Low crime rate: Dubai is ranked as one of the safest cities going by low crime statistics. Police force is efficient and strict.
  • Healthcare infrastructure: Dubai Healthcare City has elevated medical infrastructure in the region while insurance covers are comprehensive.
  • Education hubs: Academic City, Knowledge Park cater to education needs from schools to universities also facilitating skills development for industries.
  • Retail and leisure: World class shopping malls offer leisure options including indoor entertainment venues like Ski Dubai along with fine dining.

Access to talent

Companies can leverage Dubai’s multicultural talent pool comprising of skilled expatriates:

  • Expat majority: Nearly 90% of Dubai’s population comprises expatriates from over 200 nationalities offering diversity.
  • Multilingual workforce: Most expats and Emiratis speak English along with other global languages like Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, Tagalog, Chinese etc.
  • Specialized skills: Dubai attracts talented global professionals with domain expertise across banking, hospitality, healthcare, tech etc.
  • Free zone firms: Hiring regulations are relaxed for companies registered inside free zones allowing easy recruitment.

Global ambitions

Dubai serves as an ideal base for companies targeting rapid expansion in emerging markets:

  • Regional headquarters: Over 26,000 multinational firms already leverage Dubai as their Middle East HQs to tap opportunities in Africa and Asia.
  • Test marketing: Dubai’s diverse demographics make it suitable for testing innovative products and services before regional launches.
  • Expo opportunities: The Expo 2020 event is expected to attract millions of visitors along with business delegations from around the world.

Robust banking and support

Dubai offers sound banking infrastructure and availability of financing required by early-stage ventures:

  • Debt/Equity financing: Many private equity firms and VCs like Wamda Capital, BECO Capital operate in Dubai catering to new businesses.
  • Crowdfunding platforms: Homegrown platforms like Eureeca, Durise provide equity-based crowdfunding options for startups and SMEs.
  • Accelerators: Government backed accelerators provide mentoring, training and connect startups with investors helping them scale their ideas.
  • R&D incentives: There are limited R&D tax credits and government incentives offered to nurture innovation based startups.

Key takeaways

  • Strategic location, tax advantages and trade frameworks make Dubai ideal for global business expansion.
  • Excellent infrastructure spanning IT, shipping, air travel and free zones tailored for priority sectors simplifies launch.
  • Dubai allows testing innovative products before wider launches leveraging the diverse, multicultural population.
  • Availability of funding via private equity firms, accelerators and incentives propels startup growth in Dubai.


Dubai’s rise from a small trading port to one of the most preferred FDI destinations showcases the emirate’s visionary leadership and business friendly policies. By providing stability, connectivity and a high living standard, Dubai ensures it stays ahead of competing global startup hubs for future. Companies seeking access and expansion in the Middle East and surrounding high growth markets continue to be drawn to Dubai.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does Dubai offer any tax incentives to businesses?
A: Yes. Apart from no personal or corporate income taxes, Dubai offers up to 50% tax relief to foreign banks under its Finance Act. There are also selective VAT and customs duty exemptions.

Q: How easy is it to hire foreign workers in Dubai?
A: Employees can freely hire expat workers in its dedicated free zones. For mainland companies work permits are required but easy to obtain by demonstrating need and skills unavailable locally.

Q: Which sectors witness high FDI inflows in Dubai?
A: Major FDI sectors historically are – financial services including banking, insurance, infrastructure development projects, real estate including luxury housing, professional services, tourism & hospitality sectors.

Q: Does Dubai offer any special economic zones?
A: Yes, Dubai is home to over 20 free economic zones catering to priority industries. These zones allow 100% foreign ownership while offering tax breaks, relaxed regulations, pre-built office space and talent.

Q: How does Dubai support the growth of startups and SMEs?
A: Support includes mechanisms like government backed co-working incubation centers, accelerator programs, funding via Dubai SME loans having low interest rates and crowdfunding platforms that allow raising capital more easily.

Q: Which global firms have their regional HQs in Dubai?
A: Over 26,000 international companies including tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, LinkedIn, Airbnb along with leading finance brands such as HSBC and Standard Chartered host their MENA headquarters from Dubai.

Q: Why do expatriates choose to move to Dubai?
A: Tax free salaries, year-round sunshine, culture fit coming from already sizable expat communities, ease of settling coming from advanced amenities, low crime rate and connectivity to home countries make Dubai an attractive expatriate destination.

Q: What kind of internet connectivity options are available for business in Dubai?
A: Companies can easily get dedicated high speed connectivity through Etisalat and Du. Prices are competitive and fiber optic connectivity offering speeds up to 1 Gbps is widely available including in free zone areas. 5G coverage is rapidly increasing too.

Q: How well developed is Dubai’s startup ecosystem?
A: Dubai is home to the leading startup ecosystem in the Middle East having key elements like angel investor networks, VC firms, about 100+ accelerators/incubators, crowdfunding platforms, entrepreneur networks, co-working spaces, and innovation labs that allow converting ideas into reality.

Q: What are the steps to register a business in Dubai mainland?
A: Main steps are choosing a location/workspace, obtaining initial approval from Department of Economic Development, complete paperworks including MOA, becoming member of Dubai Chamber, applying for trade license, visa and opening a local business bank account. Many consultation firms offer assistance navigating the process.

Q: What are some leading co-working spaces providers in Dubai?
A: Top co-working spaces available in Dubai are WeWork, Impact Hub, The Office, Creative Zone, Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Center, Regus, Spaces, The Executive Centre, Design House and more. These provide affordable plug and play options to startups and freelancers.

Q: Are there any specific zones for companies focused on developing blockchain or crypto solutions?
A: Yes. Dubai has created the Dubai Crypto Oasis free zone specifically targeting crypt/Web3 startups. Incentives include zero corporate tax for 50 years, full ownership, streamlined licence approvals, residential visas and reduced power costs tailored for mining infrastructure firms.

Q: Does Dubai have any laws focused on data protection and cybersecurity?
A: Yes. Recently the DIFC announced the DIFC Data Protection Law aligned with EU’s GDPR guidelines effective October 2022 that regulate cross border data flows and codifies protection principles for sensitive personal information enhancing overall security practices.

Q: What are some notable unicorn startups born out of Dubai?
A: Major Dubai based unicorn startups are ride-hailing service Careem that was acquired by Uber for $3.1 Billion, Dun & Bradstreet D&B owned logtech platform Trukker valued over $1.1 Billion, business service marketplace Emerging Markets Property Group (MPG), luxury e-tailer The Modist and financial comparison portal Souqalmal.

Q: What are the options available for setting up business banking in Dubai?
A: New companies can open business accounts with leading local banks like Emirates NBD, Mashreq or international ones such as HSBC, Standard Chartered etc. Accounts can be opened digitally or in-person. Many free zones also offer baking services tailored for registered firms. Accounts allow access to forex, trade finance tools and payroll.

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