Big money: How to launch your UAE company targeting high net worth individuals

As business opportunities go, it’s pretty compelling.

If your background is in industries that target high net worth individuals (HNWIs), the UAE presents a highly attractive destination for your services. Whether you provide financial management, luxury goods, healthcare or entertainment, the country’s fast-growing HNWI population means demand for your business is huge – and it’s only set to grow.

The statistics tell an impressive story:

In 2017 alone, 5,000 millionaires moved to the UAE according to NWWealth’s Global Wealth Migration Review. That puts it at the fourth most popular destination for HNWIs worldwide. What does this mean? That getting into this rapidly growing market for HNWI products and services early will pay serious dividends in the coming years.

Why is the UAE so attractive to the super rich?

The United Arab Emirates has long pursued a strategy of marketing itself as a destination for luxury. Dubai in particular is known globally for its high-end lifestyle – whether that’s hotels, shopping, cars, or the business opportunities that go with them.

The country is also forward-looking, with a growing knowledge and services economy. Its enthusiasm for high-tech and sustainability is well known, with Expo 2020 expected to be a high point in this strategy.

Its enthusiasm for high-tech and sustainability is well known, with Expo 2020 expected to be a high point in this strategy.

This is all combined with an accommodating taxation regime – although VAT was recently introduced, most private individuals will pay no tax on personal wealth. All of which explains why millionaires are now flocking to the country.

The UAE vs everywhere else

The UAE is not the only destination catering to the world’s super rich, and cities like London, New York and Tokyo continue to be home to a high number of HNWIs. And of course, the Caribbean and other traditional low-tax destinations such as Switzerland and Monaco still draw those looking to preserve their wealth.

So, why set up a business targeting HNWIs in the UAE over these other destinations? Let’s break down the key reasons:

Location: The UAE is one of the best-situated countries in the world for travel and transport. It connects Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia, meaning your clients can travel easily for work or pleasure.

Low/no-tax: The UAE offers a 0% tax rate on personal wealth. This means your clients will have more to spend, while your business also avoids income tax.

Asia rising: Sure, you could set up shop in a low-tax European country or a Caribbean island. However, you’re mainly going to appeal to a traditional western audience. The UAE is now a top destination for Asia’s wealthy and it’s hardly a secret that there is a global shift eastward in wealth and demographics. Geographically speaking, the UAE is ideally placed as a destination for Asia’s next generation of HNWIs – getting yourself established early will set you up for the long term.

How to set up a business targeting HNWIs in the UAE

Whether your expertise is in wealth management, luxury sportscars, sourcing yacht crews, art dealing or any other service which supports the needs and wants of the wealthy, the UAE is a welcoming destination for your business.

Depending on your sector, the way you structure your company might vary. For instance, an individual wealth consultant will need to apply to start their business in a different way to a talent staffing agency who hire caterers or domestic help.

                         Depending on your sector, the way you structure your company might vary.

That said, most businesses setting up in the UAE need to go through a fairly similar process. While setting up can be a little more complicated than in other countries, the process can still be completed in a matter of days. For more detailed and sector-specific information, read our guides on UAE business setup, but here are the basics:

  1. Register: First up, you need to register your business with the relevant authorities. Most businesses with foreign owners opt to work in one of the UAE’s free zones, which are hubs targeted at specific sectors of the economy. Read our guide to free zones.
  2. Get your business license: Once your application to a free zone is complete, you will receive a business license and can officially begin trading.
  3. Open a bank account: To trade in the UAE you will need to open a corporate bank account in the country.
  4. Arrange visas: Last but not least, you will have to apply for a visa so you can remain in business long-term. Read our in-depth blog on UAE visas.

For peace of mind, working with a company formation specialist who knows these steps inside-out can mean the whole process is effortless, allowing you more time to focus on your business.

Catch the coming wave of HNWI business in the UAE

If your background is in products or services targeting the wealthy, the UAE makes a compelling case for being the next place you launch a business. Given that all the forecasts suggest strong growth in the number of wealthy individuals moving to the country, setting up here means you would be well placed to benefit from, and contribute to, this growing sector.

Setting up your own business has never been easier. Virtuzone takes care of it all so you can focus on what matters – building your business. For more information about company formation in the UAE mainland or free zones, please call us on +971 4 457 8200, send an email to info@vz.ae, or click here.

About the author: Neil Petch, Chairman at Virtugroup
About the author: Neil Petch, Chairman at Virtugroup

With a history of business successes, Neil Petch is well known in the UAE and beyond as a visionary entrepreneur with a passion for helping others establish and grow their own businesses. Neil founded Virtuzone in 2009 and quickly established it as the region’s leading company formation expert, before launching Virtugroup, a holding company that has a wider mandate of supporting startups from establishment; to successful market entry; and all the way through to exit.