The United Arab Emirates, popularly known as the UAE, has become one of the most preferred business destinations in the world. With its strategic location, tax-free environment, advanced infrastructure, and pro-business government policies, the UAE offers unparalleled opportunities for entrepreneurs looking to set up and grow their ventures.
The UAE is situated at the crossroads between the East and West, providing easy access to over 2 billion customers across the globe. Some key facts about UAE’s location advantage are:
- Centrally located between Europe, Asia and Africa
- Direct access to the growing Middle East and African markets
- Within 4 hours flight radius from leading global business hubs
- World-class sea and airports provide excellent connectivity for trade
The UAE provides unparalleled tax benefits for businesses across sectors:
- No personal income tax – All inhabitants can enjoy zero tax rates on their earnings
- No corporate tax – Excludes oil companies and foreign banks who pay taxes
- No VAT or sales tax – For most goods and services
- Tax-free import and export within UAE Free Trade Zones
This allows retention of greater share of profits while significantly lowering operational costs.
The UAE boasts of advanced, efficient infrastructure to support businesses:
- State-of-the-art ports and airports – Jebel Ali Port, Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports are global cargo hubs
- Extensive road network – Highways connect all emirates facilitating movement
- High internet penetration – 5G networks provide superfast connectivity
- Reliable utility services – Uninterrupted supply of power and water
The infrastructure reduces lead times and helps companies gain competitive advantage.
Business Friendly Government
The government plays a key role in promoting business growth through the following:
- Investment incentives – Offered through free zones and business parks
- Industry support – Technology, renewables, space etc. identified as key priority sectors
- Favorable policies – 100% business ownership, 100% repatriation of capital & profits, 5-10 year tax holidays in free zones
- Financial aid – Facilities provided by state backing institutions like Emirates Development Bank
The business landscape shaped by the government encourages both local and international players.
Access to Funding
UAE offers multiple funding channels for entrepreneurs:
|Source of Funding
|Raise startup capital through online platforms like Eureeca, Durise, Beehive
|Accelerators & Incubators
|Organizations like Flat6Labs, TURN8 provide mentoring support along with access angel networks for capital raising
|UAE has 30+ VC firms looking to invest in scalable, innovative product ideas
|Leading UAE banks provide small business loans against property, machinery, invoice etc.
|Get financial aid from entities like SMEs Funds, Khalifa Funds, Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund
The wide range of funding sources at affordable interest rates helps entrepreneurs translate ideas into reality.
Free Economic Zones
UAE houses over 45 free economic zones providing additional benefits at zero or nominal cost:
- 100% Foreign Ownership – Unlike mainland, no need for local sponsor/partners
- Customized Office Spaces – Plug n play offices, warehouses, labs that can be leased
- Business Acceleration Resources – Mentorship programs, market access opportunities
- Administrative Assistance – Streamlines license & registration processes through single window systems
These zones allow easy establishment while significantly reducing administrative responsibilities.
Some leading free zones include Dubai Silicon Oasis, DMCC, Abu Dhabi Global Markets, Sharjah Media City.
Dubai airport serves over 190 destinations across 90 countries providing direct access to global markets while Abu Dhabi Airport connects to above 85 destinations. The flight frequencies enable business trips for:
- Trade Shows – Showcase offerings & network at exhibitions
- Conferences – Gain domain insights & industry trends
- Customer Visits – Direct access to worldwide clients
UAE also has over 65 airlines offering competitive freight options to link with supply chains internationally.
Quality Of Life
While pursuing entrepreneurial dreams, quality of living assumes significance. UAE offers:
- Safe & Secure Environment – Low crime rates assure peace of mind
- Cosmopolitan Culture – Multi-ethnic society allows blending with varied cultures
- Well-developed Public Infrastructure – World class facilities & amenities
- Thriving Nightlife – Endless leisure & entertainment choices
The high living standards and cultural diversity creates a vibrant environment for entrepreneurs coming from abroad.
Key Takeaways: Why UAE is an attractive startup location
- Strategic location providing access to over 2 billion customers
- Tax free environment allowing retention of greater profits
- State-of-the-art infrastructure reducing transportation delays
- Pro-business government policies encouraging startup ecosystem
- Wide range of fundraising channels at affordable interest rates
- Free economic zones facilitating easy establishment of ventures
- Unmatched global connectivity through diverse airline options
- High quality of life supported by safe environment and modern facilities
The UAE offers the winning combination of financial incentives, infrastructural support and lifestyle benefits making it the perfect launchpad for your entrepreneurial aspirations.
UAE’s business friendly regulatory framework coupled with world-class infrastructure and connectivity provides unmatched opportunities for entrepreneurs globally. The strategic location gives access to over 2 billion customers while tax holidays help improve profit margins significantly. Government backing through funding options accelerates venture growth. The free economic zones facilitate easy setup and allow customization as per business requirements. Additionally quality of living, safety and diversity makes UAE an attractive personal destination. Considering these factors, UAE stands as the #1 location to turn innovative ideas into reality.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What are the benefits of starting business in UAE?
Some key benefits include tax free environment, strategic location with connectivity to over 2 billion customers, advanced infrastructure facilities, easy access to funding channels and supportive government policies for entrepreneurs.
- What kind of tax incentives are provided to businesses in UAE?
UAE provides no personal income tax, no corporate tax excluding oil companies & foreign banks and no VAT or sales tax thereby allowing retention of greater profits.
- Which sectors are given priority by UAE government?
Technology, renewable energy, space, education & healthcare have been identified as key priority sectors and government is channelizing special focus and investments towards these.
- What options do entrepreneurs have to raise funds in UAE?
Crowdfunding platforms, venture capitalists, bank loans, accelerators & incubators and government grants / funds are some of the funding avenues available for entrepreneurs in UAE.
- How do free economic zones in UAE help?
Free zones allow 100% ownership without needing a local partner, option for customized office spaces, business acceleration opportunities, easier registration/licensing through single window clearance and added tax benefits.
- How is the startup ecosystem in UAE?
UAE houses over 145+ startup accelerators and 45+ free economic zones focused on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship by providing technological and financial support.
- What are some leading free economic zones in UAE?
Some leading free zones are Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Sharjah Media City, Dubai Design District (D3), Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA) etc.
- How much funds can an expatriate take while leaving UAE?
As per regulations, expatriate residents in UAE can take up to AED 1 million funds while leaving the country.
- What documents are required to register a company in UAE?
Documents required are founder’s passport copies, no objection letter if working, office lease agreement and third party POA if applicable. Additional details may be needed based on specific license type.
- How long does it take to get an investor visa in UAE?
An investor visa takes approximately 2-4 weeks to process provided application meets eligibility criteria in terms of investment amount and documents submitted.
- Is renewable energy sector promising for business in UAE?
Yes, UAE provides excellent opportunities in renewable sector with target to achieve 50% energy from clean sources by 2050. Multiple solar, wind projects are underway providing incentives to private players.
- Can a expatriate purchase property in UAE?
Yes, UAE allows expatriates to purchase freehold property in designated areas from accredited developers subject to criteria related to minimum value and stage of completion.
- Is it easy to import and export goods in UAE?
Yes, UAE facilitates easy exchange of goods through sea and airports. Importing goods only requires obtaining prior permits from customs department. Exporters can benefit from government incentives.
- Can business visitors work on tourist visa?
No, business visitors are not allowed to work full time on a tourist visa. There are special category visas like investor visa and entrepreneur visa that enable conducting business while staying legally.
- What currency is best for setting up business in UAE?
UAE Dirham pegged to USD is commonly preferred for business transactions. USD, Euro, British Pound and other currencies are also accepted widely.
- Do startups require an office lease to obtain trade license?
Yes, an attested office lease agreement is mandatory to obtain most license types in mainland UAE while free zone setup allows virtual office license.