Rising Technological and Business Landscape of Dubai
Dubai is home to many leading start-ups and SMEs, but none is more thriving and well-resourced than the tech industry. The recent breakthrough in technology has attracted several investors, tech entrepreneurs, and incubators to Dubai. Today, we can expect that number to be much higher. With 93% of tech start-ups in the UAE located in Dubai alone, it is undoubtedly the leading technology hub in the world.
Dubai is also popularly referred to as the Silicon Valley of the Middle East because of its high-tech environment, ease of doing business in the technology sector, and world-class corporate infrastructure. Add to this a 0% tax regime on personal and corporate income and a straightforward incorporation process, and you have the most conducive environment to run a technology enterprise.
With the right kind of support, it is easy to establish your business in Dubai’s largest ecosystem for start-ups. After the set up, you get access to state-of-the-art co-working space, networking opportunities, accelerators, mentorship, and workshops – all under one roof! New tech businesses looking to access this incredible ecosystem have no better location than a technology hub like Dubai.
Sounds interesting? Here’s how you can start your tech business in Dubai.
How to Start Your Tech Business in Dubai?
1. Outline Your Business Activities:
- The first step is to establish the type of business you intend to run. Your business activity will determine for which type of licence you need to apply.
- There are many subsectors to technology, ranging from software development to hardware sales, IT services, and beyond. First, you need to decide the type of services your IT company will provide – generalized IT services or specialized IT services.
- Outlining your business activities upfront will make the rest of the setup process straightforward.
2. Build Your IT Team:
- Having the right team of technology experts and skilled resources is critical to IT business success. Employees must have the required technical expertise to do the job well and provide good service to the clients.
3. Choose Your Company Name:
- Choose a company name that completely describes your business and its service offering.
- Your company name needs to be simple and easily searchable in the digital space and search engines.
- As per the rules, your company name:
- should be a full name and not an abbreviation
- should not include any offensive words
- must be available to register
4. Select Your Legal Company Structure:
- To form a legal business entity, you need to decide on a suitable company structure after evaluating your business operationally and financially and considering market entry requirements.
- Some of the most common legal corporate structures for company formation include Sole Proprietorship, Limited Liability Company (LLC), Franchise company, Branch of Foreign Company, Representative Office, Trust Company, Commercial Agency, and more.
5. Choose Your Company Location:
- Choosing an ideal location for your business is very important. Your business setup options include Mainland (Onshore), Offshore, or Free Zone. Each location option has its own benefits and limitations.
6. Apply for Your Tech Licence:
- The following documents are usually required to be submitted along with the filled-in application for tech licence:
- Copy of Passport and Visa of the manager of the proposed company, director of the proposed company, and any legal representative (if appointed by the business)
- Copy of Emirates ID (if applicable)
- Copy of Trade Licence (for the applicant and all shareholders)
- Summary of your Business Plan
- Attested Birth Certificate
7. Apply for Residence Visa:
- You will also need to obtain a visa to live and work in the UAE. For this, you can apply to the relevant immigration department.
- If you plan to set up your tech business in a free zone, then the residence visa application is part of the primary company formation process.
8. Medical Exam:
- After submitting all the documentation, you will also have to undergo a biometric scan and a medical exam for fitness.
9. Sign and Collect Documents:
- The last step of tech company formation in Dubai is to sign and collect the documents. These include a lease, Article of Association (AOA), Memorandum of Association (MOA), Company Licence, and Certificate of Incorporation.
Where to Set Up Your Tech Business in Dubai: Mainland or Free Zone?
One of the main challenges faced by any entrepreneur looking to start a business in Dubai is to decide whether to set up in a free zone or mainland. Your decision may vary based on your organisational needs.
Free Zone Setup: Each free zone has its own set of rules and regulations. Primary benefits of establishing a company in a free zone include 100% foreign ownership, 0% corporate tax and personal tax, complete exemption from import/export duties, 100% repatriation of capital and profits, and more.
Free Zone companies can trade freely across the free zone and international markets, but they cannot do trading within the mainland. Another limitation for free zone companies is that they cannot apply, bid, and lodge tenders for lucrative government contracts. They must be a mainland company to bid for government contracts.
Mainland Setup: Foreign investors enjoy attractive options to set up their tech companies in mainland UAE. Companies set up in the mainland can trade freely across the UAE, GCC, and international markets. A mainland entity requires that a local sponsor holds 51% of the shares of the company. However, when you partner with a local corporate sponsor (like Creative Zone) through a corporate nominee program, your company can retain complete control of business operations and 100% of profits. The additional benefit of a mainland setup is that you can apply, bid, and lodge tenders for many lucrative local government contracts. Since technology is now a key focus across all the UAE government departments, more and more contractual opportunities are becoming available for tech businesses.
Key reasons to set up your tech business in the mainland:
- Freedom to do business with local and government authorities in any part of the UAE
- Access to the global market
- 0% personal and corporate tax
- Unlimited employment visas (number depends on the size of the office space)
- Office premises can be located anywhere in mainland Dubai
- Ability to diversify business operations
- Endless growth potential, and more.
Why is it a Good Time to Start a Tech Business in Dubai?
Amid unprecedented circumstances caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, you might conclude it is best to hold on to any plans of starting your tech business until the pandemic is over. However, in reality, it could be the best time ever to set up a new business. With the increasing demand for new methods to work and sell and the need for innovative ways to provide in-demand products, your business idea could take off right away!
The good news is that technology is one industry that has seen an upswing during these uncertain times. So, the current pandemic offers one of the best times to start a tech business. Here are five reasons why:
- Increased Adoption of Technology: There is a steep rise in technology adoption globally during the pandemic. With COVID-19 induced lockdowns and strict restrictions on movement, the use of online platforms to work remotely, shop for products and services, connect with family and friends, and perform everyday functions has increased multi-fold. Moreover, e-commerce has seen exponential growth. So, now is the perfect time to start your tech business in Dubai.
- Lack of Competition:With many large companies slowing down operations and cutting workforce during the pandemic, now is a great time to capitalize on the opportunity and get started with your tech business while the competition is far lesser than usual.
Building a successful business during a massive economic downturn has been witnessed many times in the past. Companies like Airbnb and Uber have proved that a business can achieve success even in the hardest of times and amidst ambiguity.
- Latest Announcements in Tech and Digital Industry in Dubai:
- The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, recently announced the Dubai Chamber of Digital economy’s setup. The Chamber would play a central role in transforming Dubai into an international technology hub. It would:
- Launch new projects and initiatives to attract global investment in e-commerce and digital technologies.
- Build an advanced digital infrastructure.
- provide incentives and facilities to attract talents and entrepreneurs in advanced technologies from all over the world
- Accelerate digital technology adoption in social and economic activities to meet global trends.
- Collaborate with global companies and institutions to develop digital development strategies in line with future technological trends
- Build a network of local and international tech entrepreneurs and investment funds.
- The ruler of Dubai recently launched a national programme for coders in cooperation with big tech companies, namely Microsoft, Google, Amazon, IBM, AWS, Cisco, HPE, LinkedIn, Nvidia, and Facebook. The national programme for coders aims to train 100,000 coders, establish 1,000 tech companies that will go global, and increase start-up investments to create new types of jobs in the fast-growing digital economy.
- Ease of Doing Business in Dubai: The Dubai government has established new regulatory frameworks and banking partnerships and increased venture capital investment. It has also reformed its policies to meet the business requirements of start-ups and SMEs. The UAE government has recently announced a host of changes to the residency and citizenship laws, making long-term residence in the UAE possible without the need for a national sponsor. The Dubai DED Instant Licensing service allows entrepreneurs to obtain a licence in just five minutes with no pre-approvals. The government is continually supporting start-ups by making vital services available at reduced costs. Borrowing rates and rentals are now lower than usual. With a host of services and support, starting a tech business is sustainable and beneficial for entrepreneurs.
- Future Growth Prospects of Tech Industry: Experts predict that the demand for advanced technology services would increase even further in the region in the coming years. These are especially true for Dubai as it uses AI, big data, and internet-connected devices and continues to promote tech start-ups and SMEs in the region.
Starting up a tech business in the UAE can be a challenging process. There are many unique aspects of company formation, including legal requirements, resident visas, and licence registration, which need careful review. With so many options available in the UAE for tech start-ups, you should seek expert advice on business setup solutions and support services so you can make the right choice at the beginning of the start-up journey.
With the assistance of an experienced company set up consultants like Creative Zone, you could start your tech business within days of submitting your licence application. So, if you are ready to start your tech company in Dubai, here is how Creative Zone can help.
How Can Creative Zone Help?
If you are looking to start your tech business in Dubai and are not sure where to begin, our team of expert Business Consultants and Advisors at Creative Zone can guide you at every step of the way. Here’s how.
- Being well-versed and well-acquainted in all types of business registrations, we can help you with the mainland, offshore, or free zone company setup.
- From helping you outline your business activities to registering your company name, applying for your trade licence and residency visas, and providing post-setup support, we handle every step of the process and beyond.
- Our strategic alliances with business support service providers help to meet your requirements, including co-working space, meeting room, reception facilities, tax and accounting services, legal consultancy, insurance advice, and staff recruitment.
- After completing company documentation and trade licence procedures, we provide you with the necessary tools to promote, develop, and grow your businesses after the launch.
With their wealth of knowledge and experience in different types of company formations, our business setup consultants can guarantee a trouble-free and hassle-free business incorporation experience for you. Call us at 800 LICENCE (5423673) to speak to one of our tech business setup consultants today!