What support can you expect for your startup from Dubai government agencies?

Dubai and the wider UAE continue to prove a big draw for new business and investment.

Nearly 1,700 new trade licenses were issued by the Department of Economic Development (DED) in May 2018 alone, while overall there were over 26,000 transactions relating to business registration and licensing. Of these, the renewal of existing trade licenses made up the largest share at around 12,600 according to the Business Registration and Licensing division of DED. All of which indicates that the region is strengthening its name as a global business hub.

Why might this be? Well, one of the reasons the UAE is so popular for new businesses is because of the promotion and support of startups by both government agencies and other forward-thinking companies. The initiatives on display (both past and present) showcase a desire to encourage business talent to invest in the region and support them in those all-important first years of operation.

Here are some examples of the support and opportunities that have been available to startups and how you might be able to benefit.

Dubai’s Department of Economic Development Business Initiatives

The goals for the DED in Dubai include the mission to provide a “supportive environment for creativity and excellence”, as well as helping to create a region ripe for competitive investment and attracting local and foreign business. So it’s no surprise to learn that they aim to be as supportive as possible for startups to get them up and running, and help them on their way to success.

Startups

As well as providing comprehensive information on the DED website—such as the eight steps of setting up a business in the UAE (from selecting business activity to receiving your business license)—they are also implementing several initiatives to help encourage business investment and support startups.

These initiatives include:

  • A recent decree clearing companies in Dubai from any accrued fines (prior to 14 April 2018) and encouraging them to renew their licenses during the grace period which runs until the end of 2018. As Excellency Sami Al Qamzi, Director General, DED, stated: “This will add to the financial benefits of the owners of expired business licenses, restore legal records and licenses, and help the business community in Dubai enhance their competitiveness.”
  • A further package that will help with fines and licenses in the future, by allowing businesses to pay their fines and renewal fees in easy-to-manage monthly instalments, as well as letting them suspend their trade licenses for up to a year if needed.
  • A Commercial Compliance Package which is designed to educate startup owners and guide them to operating excellence. This is done through field visits to talk to owners and brief them on DED’s standards and requirements for conducting business, the usual violations that occur, and ways to avoid getting penalised for those violations.

Such overwhelming support by Dubai’s DED highlights the Government’s commitment to stimulating business growth and economic development, and makes the UAE a strong contender for startups to lay their foundations and find success.

Dubai Chamber’s Startup Hub and Google Partnership

The website of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has its own startup hub, offering fantastic guidance for any new business. Not only is there a useful ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ filter for anybody wondering what they need to know to get started, they have also run regular programmes for startups, covering subjects like gaining market access and entrepreneur education.

The website of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry has its own startup hub, offering fantastic guidance for any new business.

Meanwhile, Tejar Dubai (an entrepreneurs development programme) has been created to find and nurture promising local entrepreneurs in the UAE aged between 18 – 35. This programme has been designed to cater for young Emiratis who have a great idea for business they would like to pursue, but don’t necessarily have the skills or experience to develop it. The programme offers training across all aspects of business, tailored to each winner of Tejar Dubai, and could last anywhere between 3 to 6 months—all with the aim of preparing these young entrepreneurs to successfully launch and run their new business.

In another initiative, Dubai Chamber recently joined forces with Google to give its members the competitive edge when it comes to being found online (an essential part of most modern businesses). Dubai Chamber has stated that the first of its members to register on Google My Business (a free solution that allows businesses to create listings for better stand-out online), will now be in with a chance to take part in exclusive digital marketing training held with Google in the near future.

Etisalat’s Hello Business Hub

This telecommunications company is known for its commitment to giving back to the community it serves. As part of its core values, aiming to help bring change for a better world, it supports a range of initiatives in education, social welfare, international relations, and culture.

Telecommunication hub

Yet, importantly, Etisalat also provides critical support for every kind of business, especially startups. Search their ‘Hello Business Hub’ and you’ll find a variety of ways they can help new businesses get started, as well as help increase their profitability and productivity.

Earlier this year, Etisalat ran a ‘Hello Business Pitch’ competition for home-grown startups and SMBs in the region to pitch their business plan and win rewards of up to AED 180,000. And, opportunities like this aside, the company also offers an ongoing one-stop-shop for essential new business needs like company registration, licensing, banking and insurance, acquiring office furniture and much more.

Earlier this year, Etisalat ran a ‘Hello Business Pitch’ competition for home-grown startups and SMBs in the region to pitch their business plan and win rewards of up to AED 180,000.

Importantly, they also offer the region’s first ‘onboarding’ programme, which aims to help new businesses get set up with all their communication needs as fast and hassle-free as possible—helped by zero upfront costs, flexible packages, and a personalised visit to your office to talk about your needs within 24 hours. Choose from a Business Quick Start office bundle (including broadband internet, voice, and the latest tablets, laptops and other devices) or the more comprehensive Business in a Box (including world-class IP telephony, high-speed internet and integrated IT support), or have Etisalat tailor a solution just for you. Then manage all your services through an online portal and enjoy the support of the region’s first dedicated 24/7 call centre. See Etisalat’s Hello Business Hub for more details.

Dubai and the UAE—a great place to start your business

The UAE is known globally as a fantastic place to do business, with many opportunities available to those smart enough to live and work in the region, which is why nearly 88% of those in business here are from abroad. Yet it is great to see such vision and passion for growth in the business sector from both the Government and companies like Etisalat, which highlights that the UAE will only continue to get better for new businesses in the future.

Virtuzone Mainland is dedicated to helping clients open a company on the UAE mainland, providing advice and assistance with every aspect of the company formation. To set up a consultation, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to maria.capin@vz.ae or click here.

About the author: Paul Bryson, Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone.
About the author: Paul Bryson, Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone.

Paul Bryson is the Director of Domestic Structuring at Virtuzone, based in Dubai, UAE. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the British Business Group, Dubai and Northern Emirates. A knowledgeable and active member of the business community in the UAE, Paul advises large multi-nationals and small startup businesses on how to best establish commercial presence in Dubai and across the rest of the UAE and Gulf region. Before embarking on his career in the Emirates, Paul graduated from the University of the West of Scotland with a Diploma in International Business.