Such is the size of the UAE events and exhibitions industry that those held at Dubai World Trade Centre alone are estimated to contribute more than USD 3bn to the country’s economy.
And it’s an industry that is only expected to grow with Expo 2020 now a little over a year away. The event is the largest of its kind ever to be held in the Middle East and is expected to draw over 25 million visitors to the country.
This presents an incredible opportunity for any ambitious entrepreneur. Starting an events management company is incredibly straightforward. If you’ve got a head for business and the requisite skill, there’s no reason why you can’t get involved in this vast market.
How to get an events management license in Dubai
With expert help, setting up your UAE events management business can be complete in just five easy steps.
Step 1: Outlining your business activity
The first step before applying for your events management license is to outline your business activities.
While the events license allows you to carry out a wide range of activities – from hospitality management to event promotion – you are still required to list on your application any that you wish to undertake.
Carrying out activities that are not listed on your license can result in penalties, so it’s best to work with a company formation expert at this stage who can make sure you are covered.
Step 2: Choosing your company name
Having outlined your business activities, it’s time to choose your company name. This step takes a little extra thought in the UAE than in many other countries.
As well as choosing a name that reflects your offering and sticks in the memory of your target customers, you must also comply with the UAE’s company name regulations.
While these are rather particular, they are very easy to adhere to. In short, your company name should not include any offensive or blasphemous language or make reference to known organisations and corporations. If you are going to include your personal name in your business name, it must be in full – no abbreviations or initials. You must also check that your chosen business name is available to be registered. A company formation expert can do this for you as part of the license application process.
Step 3: Choosing the right setup
The final step before making your formal license application is to decide on the right company setup for your business.
There are two common choices in the UAE – free zone or mainland. There are distinct advantages to both.
Free zones offer a straightforward and cost-effective way to start an events company, and offer many attractive benefits including 0% personal and corporate income tax and 100% exemption from customs tax. Also, unlike in many other countries, UAE free zone businesses also benefit from the freedom of being able to repatriate all invested capital and profits. There are also no foreign exchange controls or currency restrictions.
Alternatively, you can set up in the UAE mainland. Mainland businesses are able to trade directly with the local marketplace without the services of a local agent and can take on government contracts – something free zone companies cannot.
Step 4: Applying for your license
Once you have decided on the activities you wish to list on your license, it is time to submit your application. Depending on your choice of setup, you can either apply directly to the Department of Economic Development of the emirate you are choosing to set up in or to the relevant governing authority of the free zone.
Whichever setup you choose when applying for an events management license in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or the UAE, a company formation expert can help you with this step, even going so far as to manage the entire application process on your behalf.
Whether making your application yourself, or through a company formation agent, you are usually only required to provide a few details and some basic documentation, including:
- Completed application form.
- Passport copy of the proposed owner or owners.
- Two colour passport size photos.
You can expect to pay in the region of AED 15,000 to secure your events management license. What’s more, in many cases there is no requirement to take on office space so there are few other costs to consider.
You can also apply for a license package that includes a flexi-desk package – which affords entrepreneurs the use of business facilities such as desk space, mail services, and internet and phone use.
Step 5: Applying for visas and bank accounts
As well as applying for your business license, you’ll also need to apply for any visas you might need and open your corporate bank account.
As well as your own visa, it’s possible to apply for visas for your employees too. The maximum number you can apply for will depend on your license type and the size of your business.
You’re also free to sponsor dependants for their visa applications. Whether you wish to bring your family – including children, spouses and dependant parents – to the UAE, or you need to hire domestic staff such as a housekeeper, the process is simple.
When opening your corporate bank account, it pays to work with a company formation expert who can guide you through what can be a complex process. A company formation expert can advise on the best banks to suit your needs and arrange appointments for you should you wish.
Ready to start an events management business in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or the UAE?
While the process of applying for a UAE events license is not overly complex, it does require a level of prior knowledge of the process. What’s more, it is important to note that the application process is only straightforward if your trade license application is complete at the time of submission and free from errors.
To help you ensure that this is the case, it’s a good idea to work with a company formation specialist when establishing a new company in the UAE.
As well as handling your license application, a company formation expert can also assist with the opening of corporate bank accounts and advise on the most appropriate financial institution to suit your specific needs.
Many also offer visa and immigration services and can handle all government formalities, permissions, work permits, and visas applications that are required to trade in the UAE.
In short, company formation experts can establish your company on your behalf, make your license and visa applications, and take care of all the necessary admin – leaving you free to get on with running your business.