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How to Start Your Own Business in Dubai: A Guide to Trade Licenses

how to start your own business in dubai

Dubai’s reputation as a magnet for global businesses continues to strengthen. According to a recent report, the city retained its position as the world’s leading destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) projects in the first half of 2022. With such an encouraging economic backdrop, many entrepreneurs worldwide are asking: “How to start your own business in Dubai?” This guide is dedicated to those eager minds, providing a roadmap to obtaining trade licenses in either Dubai Mainland or its Free Zones.

How to Start Your Own Business in Dubai

Trade License in Dubai Mainland

Dubai Mainland is the heart of the city, falling under the jurisdiction of the Dubai government’s commercial regulations. Setting up here allows businesses to operate without territorial restrictions, both in the local market and outside the UAE.

Popular Business Activities in Dubai Mainland:

  • Retail Trade: Serving the end consumer, this ranges from high-end fashion boutiques to local grocery outlets.
  • Consultancy Services: Demand is high for expertise in fields like IT, business strategy, and marketing.
  • Real Estate Development: Business Bay and Downtown are examples of areas ripe for real estate ventures.
  • Restaurants and Cafeterias: Dubai’s cosmopolitan nature ensures a thriving food and beverage industry.
  • General Trading: This broad category lets businesses trade in multiple goods across sectors.


  • Determine business activity and type.
  • Choose a trade name and ensure its availability.
  • Apply for an initial approval certificate.
  • Draft and sign the Memorandum of Association (MoA).
  • Rent an office space and obtain Ejari.
  • Submit all necessary documents and get approval.
  • Pay fees and collect the trade license.

Documents Required:

  • Trade Name: Provide three options.
  • Passport Copy: Must be a full spread and clear.
  • Contact Details: Email and mobile number of all shareholders.
  • Residence Address Proof: From the UAE or home country.

For UAE Residents:

  • Visa Copy: Residence or Visit Visa.
  • Emirates ID: Front and back copies.



Trade License in Dubai Free Zone

Dubai Free Zones are specialized areas promoting foreign investment. Companies here enjoy tax breaks, complete ownership, and a streamlined import/export process.

Popular Business Activities in Dubai Free Zone:

  • E-Commerce: Setting up online platforms or stores is increasingly popular.
  • Logistics: Businesses handling goods storage and shipment thrive due to Dubai’s strategic location.
  • Media and Advertising: Areas like Dubai Media City are designed for broadcasting, publishing, and related ventures.
  • Technology and IT: Zones like Dubai Internet City are hubs for IT specialists.
  • Jewelry Trading: Given Dubai’s ‘City of Gold’ moniker, precious metal and stone trading is prominent.


  • Determine the type of business activity.
  • Register your company’s name.
  • Apply for a business license.
  • Rent an office or warehouse space within the Free Zone.
  • Obtain initial and special approvals, if necessary.
  • Pay the required fees.
  • Collect the Free Zone license and start business operations.

Documents Required:

  • Trade Name: Suggest three potential names.
  • Passport Copy: Ensure clarity, providing a full spread.
  • Contact Details: Shareholder email addresses and mobile numbers.
  • Residence Address Proof: Can be from the UAE or abroad.

For UAE Residents:

  • Visa Copy: Either a Residence or Visit Visa.
  • Emirates ID: Copies of both sides.

How Can Choose UAE Help

Starting a business in Dubai, while promising, does have its intricacies. Choose UAE is here to simplify and streamline this process for you. From understanding your business goals to liaising with governmental departments, our comprehensive services ensure a hassle-free setup journey. Plus, our post-setup services, including banking, visa, and digital brand launch support, ensure you’re well-covered throughout your entrepreneurial journey in the UAE.

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