How to start online business in UAE

How to start online business in UAE

Learn how to start an online business in UAE, a hub for electronic commerce. Benefit from excellent business opportunities, a strong economy with high income, government support for job creation, and private sector involvement in free trade zones.

A whole new breed of entrepreneurs is interested in setting up and running their businesses in Dubai – even those who do not prefer to relocate here. Dubai comes with a strong base in digital and physical infrastructures. The city has used digital marketing as a tool to promote its advancements. Due to high social media penetration in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the E-commerce market has witnessed massive growth. Experts are already anticipating retail e-commerce sales to reach a new high by 2022, from $4.28 trillion in 2020 to $5.4 trillion.

Benefits of starting an online business in UAE

Strategic Location

Dubai is ideally placed between Europe, Asia, and Africa, serving as a gateway to various markets. This favorable location allows for global trade as well as access to a broad customer base.

Business-Friendly Environment

The UAE boasts a business-friendly climate with little bureaucracy and regulation. It has an advantageous tax system, offering tax breaks for specific business operations, which can assist increase profits.

Strong Infrastructure

Dubai offers cutting-edge infrastructure, such as powerful telecommunications networks, dependable internet access, and efficient logistical facilities. These elements are critical for building a profitable online business.

High Internet Penetration

The UAE has a lot of people who are good with technology and use the internet a lot. In fact, it has one of the highest rates of people using the internet in the region. This is great news for your online business because it means there are a lot of potential customers for you to reach.

Diverse and Multilingual Population

Dubai is a city with people from many different countries, making it a place where many cultures and languages come together. This diversity allows businesses to focus on specific groups of customers and understand what they want.

Diverse and Multilingual Population

In Dubai, there are people from many different countries, which means that the city has a mix of cultures and languages. This diversity allows businesses to focus on specific groups of customers and make sure they meet their needs.

Supportive Government Initiatives

The UAE government has taken several steps to support and encourage people who want to start their own businesses and come up with new ideas. They have created programs that provide funding, as well as places called incubators and accelerators that offer support and resources. These initiatives can give you the help and tools you need to start and expand your online business.

Also read: Online Business Ideas in Dubai to Start

Strong E-commerce Growth

In the UAE, online shopping is growing rapidly, and the recent epidemic has made it even more popular. This means that now is a great time to start an online business in the country, as more and more people are buying things online.

Access to Funding

Dubai has a strong financial system that supports the growth of businesses. There are different ways to get funding for your online business, such as venture capital firms, angel investors, and crowdfunding platforms. These options provide opportunities to secure money for expanding or bringing new ideas to your internet business.

Easy Company Setup

Setting up an online business in Dubai is made easy and efficient by the UAE’s streamlined company formation procedures. They offer online registration and licensing, which means the process is simple and quick to complete.

Safety and Security

Dubai is famous for being a safe and secure place, both in real life and online. When customers engage in online transactions, they feel confident and trust the process. This trust and credibility help your online business thrive.

Cost of starting an online business in UAE

Business Setup Costs

Starting a business in the UAE involves certain costs like company registration, licensing fees, and administrative charges. The specific amount depends on factors like the type of company structure (free zone or mainland) and the type of license required.

Website Development

To have a good online business, creating a website is crucial. The cost of website development varies based on factors like complexity, functionality, and design requirements. It includes expenses for building the site, registering a domain, hosting, and ongoing maintenance.

E-commerce Platform

For selling products online, you might need an e-commerce platform. The costs can vary from using a pre-made platform with monthly fees to building a custom solution, which may require a larger initial investment.

Marketing and Advertising

To promote your online business, you’ll need to invest in marketing and promotion. This includes costs for digital marketing initiatives, advertising on social media, improving search engine visibility (SEO), and creating content. The amount you spend will depend on the extent and reach of your marketing efforts.

Inventory and Product Sourcing

If you sell physical products, you need to consider the costs of acquiring inventory and managing stock. This includes expenses for sourcing products, storing them, and implementing inventory management systems.

Payment Gateway and Security

For smooth online transactions, you’ll need to integrate a payment gateway and ensure strong security measures. Payment gateway providers may charge transaction fees or require a monthly subscription. Additionally, you may incur costs for implementing secure protocols and obtaining SSL certificates.

Operational Expenses

In addition to the initial expenses, you need to consider ongoing operational costs for your online business. These include things like paying employees, utility bills, customer service, and maintaining your technology infrastructure (such as computers and software licenses).

Simple steps for how to start online business in UAE

To set up an e-business in Dubai, we must adopt specific measures, including what the government requires. This process involves eight simple steps:

Strategic location: Choosing a Jurisdiction

A strategically significant city like Dubai has both onshore and offshore advantages. The city is divided into two main economic zones or jurisdictions:


It is also called onshore. Businesses incorporated globally can freely operate across the UAE and international markets. Mainland companies have no limit on employee visa quota depending on the company’s magnitude. They can effortlessly acquire government plans. We cannot establish an online business as a Limited Liability Company (LLC).

Free Zone

Free zone businesses have no customs duties inside their margins. These jurisdictions are free-to-trade zones. At least 20 plus free trade zones are in Dubai, boosting trade and economic growth. This zone offers an array of activities focusing more on logistics and marketing. Online businesses get to enjoy a unique tax customs and imports regime. Companies in UAE-free zones are not allowed to operate in a restricted area without the help of a local agent. These free trade zones offer 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes.

Deciding the name for our company

While selecting the company name, we have to follow certain naming pacts. Dubai has strict rules regarding the trade name. It is necessary to remember these rules to have our trade name approved by the authorities.

While choosing a name for our business, we must follow these rules and regulations. They are implemented and deemed mandatory:

  • No offensive language or inappropriate names
  • References to Allah are prohibited – no mention or regard to religion, caste, or community
  • We should avoid the use of politically charged terms
  • No sectarian or political groups

If there is trouble understanding the rules, we must consider hiring a consulting firm with a deep understanding of the UAE, its culture, and customs. For registering the trademark of the company, it can cost us anywhere near AED 8,700 in Dubai.

Procurement of the preliminary endorsement documentation

We must get endorsement documentation, a particular contract, for initializing the e-business. Simultaneously applying for trade name approval and an initial approval certificate will help us save more time in the procurement process. It is valid for only six months, and it is non-renewable.

Website for your business credibility

A website is a hub that provides essential data regarding our business. It can also work as a straight platform for e-business. For a business website, a domain name is one of the most critical features of the website to secure web hosting. However, we have to optimise the website to improve our position on search engines and create good traffic. For this, we can take help from Business Ad Makers. Through a good website, we can make a name for our brand in the marketplace. A payment gateway will connect our website to a checkout system. A flexible payment system will increase the chances of increasing sales.

Online Marketing

To scale our business, we need to advertise relevant content to engage customers. We can use professional Business Ad Maker tools and SEO experts for this. The ultimate goal is for your business to rank on the first page for queries relevant to your business and business keywords so you can get seen by more searchers and drive more people to your website. This takes a successful SEO strategy. A quicker way to show up on search engines is with search engine ads, also known as search engine marketing (SEM), search engine advertising, paid search advertising, or pay per click advertising (PPC).

The application process to acquire visas

The number of visas we can apply for will depend on the size of our business and where we choose to set up. It is necessary to start the incorporation process for a company. The benefits of starting an online business include – no requirement of the physical infrastructure to conduct an online business. We require a legal address for holding an e-business that follows the guidelines in Dubai.

Initializing the process of gaining a license

We can run a business from anywhere in the world through this license. A license for business portrays a company’s activities. The type of license needed will depend upon the nature of business, activities, and the jurisdiction we choose. Examples are – A mainland license will be valid only for operating on the Dubai mainland, and authorities issue free zone trade zones licenses in a particular zone.

Getting a permit will take about a week, and we must renew it yearly. We must provide all details regarding our social media handles and servers related to business while applying for a license. We need to submit various documents, including the application form, passport copy, and passport-sized coloured photograph.

Opening a corporate bank account in Dubai

After obtaining a license and establishing our online business, we can open our corporate bank account in Dubai. Starting a bank account is rapid and straightforward. It is vital to submit all crucial documentation after choosing the concerned bank:

  • A passport photocopy
  • The original reference letter issued by the bank where we hold an individual or commercial account from either the native or foreign nation
  • An up-to-date C.V. or Emirates ID
  • Bank statements, at the latest up to six months, either from the home nation or any nation in the world.
  • Visa copy  

Also read: Requirements for a Dubai online business license


Dubai is a city of advanced digital facilities and infrastructure. The strategic location between Europe and the rest of Asia has made it attractive to businesses worldwide. The city has taken many technological initiatives to provide world-class internet services and transform e-commerce, thus promoting and increasing opportunities to host business online in the country. Starting an online business in Dubai is easy and can be done without visiting the UAE. Through expanding internet marketing, there is a transition from a retail business to building a robust online business.

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