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How Do I Set Up My Own Restaurant in the UAE?

Dubai is one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world. It has also become the hub of delicious culinary delights from all over the globe. Foodies from different countries visit Dubai to have a taste of the local and world cuisine to enrich their traveling experience. This has led to the remarkable growth of the food & restaurant industry in Dubai. Therefore, several businessmen are keen on setting up their restaurant business in Dubai.

4 Steps to Set Up Your Restaurant in Dubai

If you are planning to open your own restaurant in Dubai, then you need to follow the ‘Food Code’, an initiative of the Control Department of Dubai Municipality to instill food safety standards in the food industry. It ensures food safety right from food production to food consumption. As per the new Dubai food code of 2013, there are separate guidelines on the import and export of food products that must be followed.

To open a restaurant in Dubai, you need to take the following steps:

Step 1: Acquisition of Licenses & Permits
The first step is to acquire food and trade licenses from the concerned authorities.

  • Trade License for the business set up in Dubai can be obtained from the Department of Economic Development (DED), and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). The appropriate food establishment type will be specified in the license you obtain. You must also apply for the ‘NOC on foodstuff establishment trade license’ from the Food Safety department’ which will enable you to complete the procedures for issuing a trade license.
  • Food License can be obtained from the Department of Food and Safety.

The following documents must be provided to obtain the food license:

  • Copy of a valid trade license or primary approval from the issuing authorities
  • Interior design layout/blueprint of the restaurant premises, if applicable
  • Approval from the Planning Department must be obtained if the restaurant is located outside a mall or shopping centre
  • Other Licenses: For special licenses, such as a liquor license, there is a separate procedure to apply with the Dubai police headquarters. You also have to pay a 30% tax on the sale of liquor to the Dubai government, a fee for importing liquor, a fee for selling liquor, etc
  • Other Special Permits: These include Vehicle permit for food transportation, food truck license, pork permit for handling and serving pork, and food consignment release license

Step 2: Selection of the Restaurant Location
Best Area to Operate: To select the best location for your restaurant, you have to first decide whether to operate in the Mainland area or in one of Dubai’s free zones.

  • Mainland Area: To open a restaurant in the mainland area, you need the support of a local sponsor and approval of the DED authorities
  • Dubai Free Zone: To open a restaurant in a free zone, you need to obtain the consent of the chosen free zone authority. You may not need a local sponsor

Right Locality to Operate: After you have selected the best area to operate, you need to select the right locality based on your target market.

Step 3: Approval for Construction Plans
After obtaining the trade license, you must also get your restaurant construction plans vetted and approved by the Food Control Department of Dubai.

Step 4: Business Plan & Cost Estimates
Along with a professional business plan, you also need to draft a financial plan, cash flow projections, a contingency plan, and more. You also need to estimate the cost of rentals, hiring staff, equipment & appliances, furniture & décor, etc. To ensure food safety measures, you must appoint only a qualified person for restaurant operations who must undergo specialized training.

Setting up a restaurant in Dubai is a challenging task. You need to have an in-depth knowledge of the numerous licenses, permits, applicable fees, and the local market. Business startup consultants like Creative Zone can assist you with all the requirements in setting up your new restaurant in Dubai. Creative Zone is the largest consulting company for business setup and support in Dubai. Call 800 LICENSE (5423673) to schedule a free consultation with one of our Business Setup Advisors today!

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