It is 2023 and the international online marketing opportunities available to global business owners are set to become increasingly more exciting as the year rolls on.
Many that aim to start a company in the UAE and those on the watch for new business horizons will be turning their faces to Dubai. Dubai is a happening marketplace that promises only good things ahead.
The Benefit of an Online Business in Dubai
Simply put, there are many benefits.
Dubai’s Online Business sector is full of potential. This is true whether you are offering information, technological, or educational products, lifestyle improving e-services or day to day enriching items like household items or groceries.
Without the need to rent, furnish and equip a physical office space, a well targeted online business can engage with its audience wherever they are, at home, office or at leisure.
Dubai has a place for all business types. Whether your are a Business to Consumer - Business to Business - Consumer to Business etc there are endless opportunities for you to engage with your target audience.
The Dubai vision for business is geared towards ensuring business owners prosper.
There are many tax benefits available for Dubai businesses. Taxes range from zero to minimal depending on the type of business you have. Businesses are not required to pay personal or corporate taxes for an Online Business and own 100% of your profits.
So huge are the opportunities for business owners in the United Arab Emirates (UEA) that it is almost impossible to not be drawn towards them.
How engaged are Dubai / UAE audiences?
In recent years eCommerce transactions in the UAE have been in the billions. The government’s continued encouragement of smart business and cashless payments has created a target audience that does almost everything online. This is great news for online business ventures.
Dubai is also blessed with high-speed internet and constancy of power supply. And on ground business logistics like fast parcel pick up and delivery is already in place.
According to global media sites 9.98 million people in the UAE were using the internet in 2022. That is 99.01% of a total population. Remember that a large number of the Dubai population is made up of Expats with disposable income.
Migrants are attracted to Dubai because of its diversified economy and political stability. In fact Dubai is considered to be one of the safest cities in the world. It has a vibrant and diverse culture.
With over 3.5 million people Dubai is the most populated city in the UAE. The continual development of new residential areas reveals a booming population and rapidly growing economy.
How do I set up an Online Business in Dubai?
Recruiting a savvy business advisor is recommended, as is doing your own homework to acquaint yourself with the terminology, visa requirements and legislation relating to your business proposal and model.
Applications for Trade Licences can take days or months.
To ensure your application process is as quick and efficient as possible and to avoid unnecessary delays it is important to gather the required documentation as early on in the process as possible.
The types of documents you will need vary according to the type of business you want to set up. At the very least you will need to provide ID documents, verification of your business registrations and a well considered business plan.
Choose a Name
Decide on a business name that compliments your company purpose or activity.
Please note: A foreign business trading name may attract higher fees.
Next make sure your business name is available - has not been reserved in the UAE and is not copyright protected.
Names must not be defamatory, obscene or of a nature that is insulting or offensive. A name that refers to an attribute of Allah for example would be deemed offensive.
Purchase a domain name
A top level UAE domain name that aligns with UAE naming conventions, will increase the trust your audience will have in your web presence.
.ae is country code for UAE sites and is equivalent to the United Kingdom’s own .UK domain country code.
International artists, musicians or others with a special online interest following can purchase an .Ae domain name from virtually every nation in the world except Israel.
The first top level domain UAE to use roman characters is .emarat This is another option for those wanting to gain the trust of Emirati site visitors.
The .dubai domain is coming soon. You can pre-register your interest in a Dubai domain now, which is recommended as the best names are likely to .dubai be bought up quickly.
Undoubtedly more regional UAE domain release opportunities will open in the near future.
NOTE: Be careful to register your domain name with an accredited registrar. Also you need to provide the registration receipt before starting your online business in Dubai.
AE Server is good company if you are looking for UAE domain and hosting located in the UAE
Outline your business activities
Make sure you list ALL of the products or services your Online Business will offer in order to avoid having to either add others or re-negotiate others at a later date.
NOTE: Some activities may require additional research in order to assess the permissions needed for specific services.
Getting a business licence
There are a number of licences available to businesses. As previously mentioned an experienced Business Advisor will be best placed to help with these decisions.
The nature of your Online Business activity determines the type of registration and licences you will need. For example: If you plan on selling physical products you will need to obtain an E-Commerce Licence but a company selling downloadable digital products would not require this type of Licence.
There are four main types of trade licence: Commercial, Professional, Industrial and Tourism. Each category carries its own permissions, restrictions and fees.
In your research you will see the term E-Trade Licence. This term can be a tad confusing as different UAE jurisdictions use the names E-Commerce and E-Trade interchangeably.
The E-Trade Licence was created to regulate the sale of products and services offered on social media in Dubai, with a view to eliminating sales of fake products and services.
It is important to note that there are limitations on the type of products and services sold via an E-Trade Licence and these can be based on the nationality of the seller. These limitations are best discussed with your Business Advisor or directly with the Department of Economic Development (DED).
If you are promoting services such as, training, mentoring etc then you will need to apply annually for a Professional Licence from the Department of Economic Development (DED).
The Instant Business Licence should not be confused with the E-Trade Licence. It is ONLY available to UAE and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals who are residing in Dubai and gives holders twelve months to determine the type of business they want and the direction they would like their business to go in.
The Virtual Company Licence is an exciting development in Dubai and the latest innovation of the city’s fifty year plan to create a Virtual Commercial City.
Dubai’s Virtual Commercial City’ dream expanded the opportunity for foreign investors and business owners to include creative industries, technology and services from 101 nations.
The Visionary behind this breakthrough, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al MaktoumIt declared this “Virtual Commercial City” opportunity to be “a quantum leap in the concept of doing business” that “will be a major attraction for the next generation of entrepreneurs.”
Open a bank account
This requires the provision of an ID card and Visa. Company registration documents and trade licence. Once your documents have been assessed you can open an account in UAE.
We personally had a great experience with Mashreq Neo Biz from mashreq bank.
With Dubai’s leadership on board and a wealth of incentives and initiatives created to ensure that your online business presence is facilitated easily, I am sure you agree that the timing to step out is now.
I have been careful to recommend seeking the advice of a Business Advisor because an article alone cannot sufficiently answer all of your questions. To do so would require access to your full business plan and product or services list as these areas demand questions of different departments and experts. Nevertheless we can point you in the right direction and establish a logical planning progression to help you move forward in this exciting journey.
This is the season to consider investment in an Online Business in Dubai. The groundwork has all been laid for you. The Framework has been created and the structures that facilitate the smooth running of every type of business are in place.
A Brief Summary:
Steps to follow before your online business registration can commence:
- Decide upon a Trading Name (provide at least three choices)
- Define your Online Business Activity
- Register your domain name - a registration is required paperwork.
- Define your company needs: Online only, physical presence or both.
- Gather originals and copies of personal and business (statutory documents, passports, visa or entry stamps, passport size photo, copies of shareholder passports...)
- Apply for initial approvals and permissions.
- Create a Business plan - submitted to the Department of Economic Development (DED)
- A Trade Licence application (submitted to the DED after approval of your business plan)
• Register employees, where applicable, with the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation (MOHRE)
• Obtain work permits, where applicable, for employees
Getting Help with Digital Marketing is key to successful business in Dubai UAE
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